Dr Andrew Erickson is a Professor of Strategy at the US Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, where officers from the United States and around the world come to study maritime warfare.
In a recent article, he says that “To the extent that any nation has a grand strategy, China surely does. The vision is no secret: Xi Jinping vows to make China great again. This resonates deeply: Since imperial decline in the First Opium War (1839 to 1842), every Chinese leader has sought the same, with broad popular support. Xi’s strategy for a modern China of unprecedented power and influence requires recapturing lost glories at home and abroad. It clearly entails reincorporating Taiwan, together with other unresolved island and maritime claims. China’s history and geography suggest that it now faces short-range opportunities and long-range challenges. China’s strategy thus has a broadly-defined arc that the United States should address with a strategy of “competitive coexistence” to safeguard American interests sustainably amid increasing Chinese assertiveness.“
Before reading Dr Erickson my readers should review both:
- Kevin Rudds views about China’s, or, kore specifically Xi Jinping’s, grand strategic priorities; and
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s analysis of the high-tension Sino-American relationship.
Dr Erickson situates China’s strategic priorities based on the work of Thierry Balzacq, Peter Dombrowski, and Simon Reich in Comparative Grand Strategy: A Framework and Cases (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2019). They offer a simplified, graphic view …
… which you should compare with the model I made of former Prime Minister Rudd’s views:
Kevin Rudd is looking a China’s grad strategic situation while Dr Erickson and Balzacq, Dombrowski, and Reich are focused more narrowly in military strategy, but even then the two analyses have many common elements.
The key point is that China does have a grand strategy … in contrast to, especially the United States and in even sharper contrast to Europe.
In the absence of anything like a strategy in Washington or anywhere in Europe, smaller, less powerful countries like Australia and Canada must frame their own responses to what China is doing. Geography and economics dictate that Australia will have a more pressing problem.
Canada should listen very carefully to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s advice. Canada needs to leverage its membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to try to make inroads into the region. Now that India has, just, pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) there is room for Canada to try to restore better relationships with both China and India by promoting free(er) trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Both China and India are key to global growth and security and peace. Both are focused on trade and commerce.
But, I doubt that will happen because Canada’s entire foreign policy seems to have gone missing since Justin Trudeau was elected and especially after he appointed the miserably incompetent Chrystia Freeland to the top job in Global Affairs. Canada’s current policy seems, to me, to be focused, 100% on using diaspora politics to secure some slight, riding-by-riding, political advantage in Canadian elections.