A U.S. destroyer – the USS Lassen – recently navigated into the waters near the Chinese Spratly Islands.
The move was considered a provocation by the Chinese government, who even expressed that “they are not intimidated and are ready to confront the situation militarily.”
The Chinese reaction has surprised many. It was thought that the matter would be only a small diplomatic incident. However, Beijing took the matter seriously and reacted with anger upon finding out that an American war ship was navigating freely in “the South China Sea.” There are sovereignty claims over much of the South China Sea, and the region is disputed by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. This creates a tense and critical situation.
What was Washington hoping to achieve by sending a destroyer into this zone? The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, was in Washington not long ago. Was this act not an imprudent measure, after the presidents of the two greatest superpowers had shaken hands?
Military Error or State Error?
In recent years, has the leadership of the United States been indicating that its influence on the Asian continent has been unfruitful or declining? Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Israel-Palestine [and] the Korean peninsula can attest to America’s diplomatic abilities. Will the Western agreement with Iran allow Washington to save face? Things have not gone well in Ukraine either.
One should note that China’s reaction surprised many because of its firmness and force. And surely it has made Washington’s allies think. These [allies] must be questioning the strength and respect that Washington’s leadership will command in the future, in a new multi-polar context. Europeans, Japanese, South Koreans and Filipinos must be worried by whether or not the U.S would be determined to act if these states, allies of Washington, were assaulted or attacked by mainland China.
The United States has military bases all over the world. And this is a double-edged sword: to some countries, they are a threat to their sovereignty; but to Washington, they serve as global police stations.
The Americans, very proud of their leadership, already feel that they are losing influence, land and power.
The Chinese adversary, who Washington courted discreetly at the beginning of the ‘70s, to make the then Soviet Union jealous, cannot currently be contained. They have become insolent and spoiled, and they threaten to unseat them [the United States]!
Is this disrespect or is this just the natural friction that occurs among superpowers?
The United States has been leading the world since 1945. Since that time, there have been no additional world conflicts. And now, within a new multipolar world, the new superpowers are competing more vigorously to gain territory, allies and leadership.
Will it be difficult for Washington to adapt to the possibility of, within a few years, having a status similar to that of Great Britain or France, superpowers who could no longer expand?
No one wants to be seen as inferior. However, how long can an empire last if, under democracy and capitalism, opportunities for development are more abundant and more quickly obtained than a century ago?
The catechism the United States spread around the world in the past is costing them today.
Perhaps the new superpowers will not require large territorial expansions; however, they will need advanced technology. Or perhaps they will simply focus on conquering other planets, or controlling humanity through implanted chips.
China cannot militarily defeat the United States, for now. However, its economy is growing faster than that of the American superpower.
One should also not forget that India, at any moment, could unexpectedly burst in and intimidate [Washington]. How can we know that India will not also challenge Washington?
The recent events in the South China Sea show us that the world order can change dramatically, even if we do not like the changes. Power increases in a thousand ways. China does not have to become a complete democracy to catch up with the United States. Their exceptional trade figures, entrepreneurial impetus and millennial [ancient] culture are enough.
If there are fields in which Washington will maintain its supremacy for some time, it is in commercial marketing, technology and inventions. [Washington] is the greatest creator of progress and scientific development. However, they have fallen behind when it comes to space travel.
How will they feel in Washington knowing that others disrespect them and that others can go further in the short-term?
From now on, how will Americans focus their policies in the face of very large and strong adversaries who can intimidate them?