For many centuries, China was regarded as a sleeping dragon and many analysts talking about China’s rise usually cite Napoleon’s warning of ” let China sleep as when it awakes, it will shake the world”.
There’s no doubt that China’s rise is going cause great trauma to the US-led world order in the 21st century.
For more than 40 years, China has been seen by the US and other countries as an incapable country when it comes to the military since it hasn’t seen any serious combat in this period but I think people should remember Chinese President Hu Jintao’s speech at UN general assembly in 2008 where he told the heads of states that China’s peaceful rise was a choice.
He was delivering a message to the world that China had not gone to war in many years is not because it lacked the capabilities to fight but it was China’s chance to rise peacefully but that doesn’t mean anyone should provoke it intentionally.
It was after such a speech that then US president Obama who has just been elected started thinking of a strategy to contain or slow the rise of China in 2012, Obama come up with a pivot to Asia strategy which included economic containment of China through TPP which was meant to set rules that were against China’s economic plans and military through deployment in South China, deployment of long-range missiles in Asia against China and improving on relations with its allies like Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Philippines, New Zealand, and Australia.
China’s leaders do work out a long term plan and since 1992 after the Tiananmen Square protests and the US deployment of its aircraft carriers in the Taiwan strait in 1996, the Chinese leaders knew that one time, the US will want to contain China’s rise and so they started preparing themselves for future US containment.
In order to avoid US containment on the economic side, China started negotiating with ASEAN member countries about forming a new free trade agreement in the early 2000s which has become known as Asia Pacific Free Trade Agreement and includes ASEAN member countries and South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and China.
China has also made sure that all neighboring countries’ economies are tied to China’s economy which is why China is the largest trading partner with all its neighbors including US allies like Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.
Another long-term strategic put forward by Chinese leaders was Belt and Road Initiative project (BRI) which is meant to minimize the effects of US blockade of China using maritime means since US has got hundreds of military bases surrounding China.
The BRI transport link via land is meant to reduce the over-dependency of China on sea lines of communication for both imports and exports and the sea route which involves the construction of ports is meant to increase the military presence of China so that the remaining trade across the seas and oceans also are well protected.
To minimize the presence of the US department in the South China Sea, China has reclaimed islands in the area and deployed the most advanced anti-ship missiles and radar systems that are able to detect all the movement of the US Navy across the region and can react to defend China’s interests in the area if needed.
Let’s get back to the Europe event that has left many people around the world shocked including the US and its allies. For a long time, US has carried out campaigns against Chinese made products as fake and less capable something people a cross the world translated to even cover Chinese made weapons which have been seen as equally coped, fake and less capable compared to their western counterparts.
There is no doubt that China’s military has been lagging behind when it comes to technology including advanced weapons but because it has avoided a major war in the last 40 years, its rapid economic development has provided the resources and stability needed to carry out research and develop advanced technologies including weapons that even surpass that of the US and other western countries.
The shock the world got wasn’t about Chinese missiles delivered to Serbia but the means of delivery, for many years, China lacked advanced and capable means of transporting heavy equipment and soldiers for long-distance missions and has been relaying more on commercial airlines for such missions in the past but not anymore.
China’s use of its locally made Y-20 military transport aircraft to deliver Chinese-made FK-3 medium-range, road-mobile surface-to-air missiles to Serbia was the real deal as it demonstrated increased China’s military capabilities to carry out long-range missions across the world.
This sends a clear message to US and its allies about not only that China has the capability to rapidly deploy its forces around the world but its military equipment like the Y-20 transport aircrafts are much more reliable and capable than Initially thought.
This also means that now the US will have to go back to the drawing board and rethink its military strategy in case of a war with China as it may no longer be restricted to the Asia Pacific only but the whole world.
Y-20 transport aircraft has been used by PLA to carry out international missions like a visit to Russia with more than 100 Chinese soldiers, a visit to Tonga for humanitarian purposes, a visit to Pakistan for covid-19 equipment and vaccine delivery, and now the visit to Serbia to deliver weapons not forgetting the delivery of covid-19 vaccines in Asia region.
The US and its allies will now have to live with the reality of fighting China a cross the world in the future if the war breaks out and I think this is only the beginning of China showing off its military capabilities as it becomes more and more confident in itself as a true rising super power.