Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XCI
So, China Comes to the Atlantic
I found two things curious about the response to this news over the weekend;
China is looking to create its first permanent military presence on the Atlantic Ocean, on the coast of the small African nation Equatorial Guinea, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal based on classified U.S. intelligence.
Though officials did not describe China's plans in detail, they said China's presence on Africa's Atlantic coast would enhance the possible threat to the U.S., as it would give Chinese warships a place to rearm and refit opposite the East Coast, the Journal reported.
Gen. Stephen Townsend, who serves as commander of U.S. Africa Command, told the Senate in April that China's “most significant threat” would be “a militarily useful naval facility on the Atlantic coast of Africa.”
First of all, I am surprised that it has taken this long for China to militarize her Belt and Road. If you take in to consideration not just her navy but her naval auxiliary and merchant fleet, China can be argued to be the premier naval power in the world right now.
She does not have the combat reach and capability that the USA has via its carrier and submarine force, but she is getting there.
Her economic requirements, if nothing else, absolutely require her to have naval bases along her sea lines of communication.
Second, some people are getting the vapors over it. Calm down people.
Is this a great threat to the US and her interests? Well, it isn’t helpful, but it isn’t a crisis. Like the various German naval facilities scattered over the Pacific and Africa prior to WWI, in any global war, a little base in Africa will have an operational utility measure in weeks at best.
It is important and we should not brush it off. We should take note of this Decisive Point in her Line of Operation to maintain a global naval presence. China is a rising power and with each year, our relative strength against her weakens. It weakens for two reasons;
1. China is investing in and building a world class navy.
2. The United States is willingly underinvesting and allowing its world class navy to progressively degrade.
At some point, if you simply look at military power, those lines will cross. If you include all the parts of a maritime power like I did at the start of the post, one could argue that those lines have already crossed – we just haven’t accepted that yet.
Good news, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can, and should, sober up and see the world for what is it in the 3rd decade of the 21st Century and invest accordingly.
We are by nature, geography and requirements, a maritime and aerospace power. We need leaders who will start to speak, act, and invest accordingly.
If that moment won’t happen now, perhaps it will happen when the Chinese get their first base in the Western Hemisphere.