How is CHINA challenging the AMERICAN EMPIRE? – VisualPolitik EN
We had the Roman Empire, the Spanish Empire, the British Empire… now we live in the age of the American empire… No other country
has such a military presence in so many places. Even in a remote place like GUAM, in the middle
of the Pacific, America has a military base… and… that’s pretty useful!
The fact that you can buy a mobile phone made in South Korea with just one click is the
outcome of global capitalism, yes. But global capitalism would not be possible if trade
wasn’t safe. Those American bases are there to protect all those ships that move goods
from one place to the other. And this is the ultimate reason why America invests so much
in having the strongest army, unchallenged by anyone… UNTIL NOW.
Who is challenging this empire? Of course, China. How is it doing so? You’ll see in
this video. This is the million dollar question… Why
does America have such a big army? You might argue that it doesn’t really need one. In
fact, just by looking at a map, you can see that America has a big advantage. It’s secured
by two oceans, making it almost impossible to attack or invade. Nonetheless… America has the biggest army
on the planet. It has more than a million active military personnel and almost 800 military
bases located in 70 different countries and territories all over the globe. Britain, France
and Russia, by contrast, have about 30 foreign bases combined.
Just look at this map. America is just all over the place. And there is no country that
can challenge them… Oh wait a minute! Maybe there is? Yes, my
dear viewers, today we are going to talk about CHINA. Here on VisualPolitik, we’ve talked thousands
of times about China’s economic progress. It’s the World’s factory and many Chinese
companies are starting to become big competition for the technological behemoths. But now we’re
talking about their military. More specifically, their military presence in the South China
sea. And believe me, this is no joke. China’s South China Sea Play: The End of Beijing’s
“Peaceful Rise”? The definition of “String of Pearls” was
first used in 2005 in an international report given by the Department of Defense of the
United States. In this report it was predicted that China will try to expand its naval presence
throughout the Indian Ocean Region. In this context, the pearls are a metaphor for each
of the military bases China wants to build, making a string that goes all the way down
to Africa and the Middle East, where China imports most of its natural resources.
And, as you can imagine, these military expansions scared the whole world… especially America.
And it got even more scary when the former Chinese president, HU JINTAO, said this in
2009… “The road of peaceful development is a strategic
choice made by the Chinese government and people in the line of the nation’s peace-loving
traditional culture, the trend of our times and the fundamental interests of China”
–Hu JINTAO Yeah… for some reason, this quote that was
intended to chill the Americans out had the opposite effect. It pretty much sounded like
China was… saying the opposite of the truth. But OK, I know what you’re thinking: So
what? What’s the problem with China trying to increase their military? After all, it’s
just another country. And every country has an army, and wants to be safe, right? Why
should we care about China having military bases? Do they really want to surpass the
US? Can they? Today, we’re going to answer all of those questions but, before we do,
let’s take a look back at the history. LESSONS FROM THE PAIN Yes, we said America is almost impossible
to invade. But… there was an exception. That was in the year 1941, when Japan bombed
Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. A year later, the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
That was the moment when America learned an important lesson: nobody is 100% safe. And
they’d better start caring about protecting the oceans. In fact, during World War II,
the US had to fight among lots of small islands in the Pacific. That was the case during the
Battle of Midway. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the Japanese
tried to eliminate the US as a strategic power in the Pacific and they hoped to succeed by
demoralizing the American forces with another surprise attack. American cryptographers managed
to decipher the date and location of Japan’s attack and prepared a counter surprise attack.
Needless to say, the US inflicted irreparable damage to the Japanese fleet. World War II ended. The Americans won. And
they remembered their lesson: we cannot let this to happen anymore. So what did they do?
The covered the Pacific ocean with military bases! Basically, they kept soldiers on all
those small islands where they’d fought. And now you might wonder… Why is so important
to have soldiers on a small island nobody cares about? Is it that bad if someone wants
to invade an atoll like Midway? Really? Listen, moving soldiers to any other part of the planet
is not easy or cheap, if not done properly. A war ship is a floating city with big guns
in it, a city that can travel 500 to 1000 km in one day. So, moving one of those from
Los Angeles to Shanghai would take more than 10 days. But, if you already have ships and
soldiers in Guam, you can arrive at the Shanghai coast in a little less than 3 days. This is
a great way of deterring potential conflicts. In fact, most of those ships would never have
to fire a single weapon. Being so powerful, nobody would even dare to attack them.
But not only that! Many of these ships are not meant to combat other armies but rather,
pirates! For example, the USS Independence is a war ship created for the main purpose
of combating pirates. And there are many other ships. In fact, the USS naval force is getting
bigger and bigger all the time. And this means, so far no one on earth can match its might.
US Navy to add 46 ships in five years, but 355 ships won’t come for a long time Of course, this gives America an uncontrollable
amount of power. And perhaps this can be worrying to some people. But, so far, it has created
a safe environment where everybody can trade untroubled. Whenever some country or some
pirates want to block a trade route, they have to face all those American ships. This
is one of the reasons why South East Asian nations have become exporting powerhouses.
And, of course, that has benefited China too. The truth is, there are many countries that
would be happy to block China’s trade routes. But… is China comfortable in this position?
Does it like depending so much on America’s army? Let’s have a look! A NEW HEGEMON What defines a territory? Well, a territory
is an area of land under the jurisdiction of a ruler or a state. Not all territories
are born equal, some have abundant natural resources like gems, gas and oil, while others
have little to no resources. The availability of some resources gives the
country they belong to some pretty big advantages in trade. The most obvious example of this
is oil and how much its trade has defined Saudi Arabia’s economy.
But what about the others? Those who have few, little or no resources? They need to
import everything for their industries. They must compete with international bidders to
secure stable supplies of resources, which basically means their industrial cost of production
would also be higher. And this, dear viewers, is essentially China’s
situation. Yes, China has a lot of industry but… almost no resources. Oil, steel, uranium…
most of the things it needs to make those mobile phones, cars or TVs has to come from
other parts of the world. And this appetite for raw materials is increasing day after
day. But this isn’t the end of the story! Once those resources are acquired, China needs
to transport them into its territory safely and for as little money as possible.
The South China Sea is the busiest collection of shipping lanes in the world. It’s the
lifeblood of East Asia, carrying most of its trade and oil. It’s obvious than that China
would very much like to keep these lines of trade open and, preferably, to control them. China also doesn’t have a big consumer market
like the US, so it has to export a lot if it wants to make money, and all these routes
can be blocked anytime by one of the neighboring countries. The communist party, the governing
force in China, also has lots of mouths to feed, so control over this region is essential
for the party to stay in power. OK! Now I know what you’re thinking… China
isn’t the only one! Many other countries have no natural resources either and they
don’t complain! Of course! But there is a problem. Being so dependent on imports and
exports, China only needs one country to block its routes to collapse in a matter of months.
And, oh boy! There are many other countries who would be happy to do that! Especially
one in particular: INDIA. See this string of islands in the Indian Ocean?
Well, those belong to India. And the Indian army could easily block Chinese boats there,
which would mean China couldn’t buy most of the oil it consumes. Most of the oil tankers
that go from the Middle East to China pass through the so called MALACCA STRAIT, right
where Singapore is. We’re talking about almost 20 million oil barrels a day and many
other goods. But if India blocked the routes among those
small islands… good luck trying to get that oil! In fact, this is such an existential
threat to China that their former president, HU JINTAO, used to called this the MALACCA
DILEMMA. But we’re not just talking about India.
In fact, America isn’t going through their best time when it comes to loving the Chinese.
And, again, the American navy has the capability to block the oil supply to China by sea. This
would be far more devastating than the trade wars.
So what’s the solution? The Belt and Road Initiative and its maritime
counterpart: The String of Pearls. The Belt and Road Initiative was initiated
by President Xi Jinping in 2013 with the aim of rebuilding infrastructure and accelerating
China’s economic growth. Essentially, this is a brand-new Silk Road and the String of
Pearls is its maritime brother. In 2017 Mr. Xi pledged an additional $124
billion towards his $900 billion Belt and Road initiative. China is promoting this global trade infrastructure
as a long-term win-win campaign for the 65 nations that have signed up for it. Most western
leaders stayed away from the two-day summit announcing the ambitious Chinese project,
but the 28 heads of state present at what Mr. Xi called “a gathering of great minds”
included President Putin of Russia and President Erdogan of Turkey. “This is indeed a gathering of great minds.
In the coming two days, I hope that by engaging in full exchanges of views, we will contribute
to pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, a project of the century, so that it will
benefit people across the world.” Xi Jinping. With China consolidating its power and relationships
with countries all over the South China Sea region, it might become really difficult for
the United States to keep being the big boss in charge.
If China were to surpass the US, the United States would lose all of its deterrence power
in a key region of the globe. And this would completely change the rules of international
trade. Americans are pretty worried and earlier this
year the CIA went so far as to state that the US has two major problems right now: Russia
and China and their effort to undermine the US’s influence in key regions like Africa
and the South China Sea. “We are not naïve and we are taking significant
steps on the counterintelligence side so that we have all the defenses that we need” –U.S
Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser. OK! I know what you’re thinking now! America
is a World empire! And we’re only talking about the South China sea here! Of course,
you’re right. In fact, China is only threatening US dominance in the South China sea, not in
the whole World. But this region is one of the most important when it comes to international
trade. And this is why the struggle is so intense.
But the show is still going on. In fact, China knows that, if it goes too far with building
military bases, the US will call on its allies in the region to do the same. This would mean
scaling up military spending. And… look, China and the US might not be the best couple
on the planet. But… they kind of tolerate each other. But the US’s allies in the region…
oh boy! Those nations really have problems with China. We have India for one, and Japan,
among others. And China does not want those guys to increase their military presence.
This is why, so far China is playing a very patient game here. This is a very long term
challenge. And long term, in Chinese, means really long term. We might be talking about
decades here. But despite the slow path, you’d better
remember the term ‘STRING OF PEARLS’ because it’s going to appear more and more in the
newspapers. This is going to be so important that, in the beginning of the next year, on
VisualPolitik, we’ll continue telling you more about it in another series of videos
coming up. So if you don’t want to miss them, don’t forget to subscribe to this
channel and hit the bell button so you won’t miss any posts. Now the question is… Do you think this String
of Pearls is really such a threat to international stability? Where does the US go from here?
Is this the beginning of the end of the American empire? Please, leave your answer on the comment section
below. And of course, don’t forget to visit our friends from RECONSIDER MEDIA.Com, the
podcast that provided the voices on this video that are not mine. If you liked this video,
give us a thumbs up and as always, I’ll see you next time!