Chinas neue Monroe-Doktrin?

Chinas neue Monroe-Doktrin?

Schon seit einiger Zeit geistert das Schlagwort von Chinas neuer Monroedoktrin im politischen Raum.Die Erklärung der chinesischen Regierung, das Südchineische Meer als Heimgewässer zu sehen, das dieselbe vitale Bedeutung für die territoriale Integrität Chinas habe wie Taiwan, Tibet und Xinjiang, ja Kern des nationalen Interesses sei,  sowie die maritime Aufrüstung Chinas und Spannungen in dem Südchineischen und Ostchinesischen Meer mit den Anrainerstaaten werden als Indikatoren für solch eine Monroe-Doktrin Chinas genommen.

Einige Autoren meinen, dass die Monroedoktrin der USA nicht so weit gegangen wäre wie China, das Ansprüche auf internationale Gewässer lege.

A Chinese Monroe Doctrine?

Sep. 20, 2010 – 06:00AM   |  


Writing in the July 23 issue of The Diplomat, an international current-affairs magazine, China specialists Paul Giarra and Patrick Cronin maintain that „an increasingly assertive China is creating its own Monroe Doctrine for Asia’s seas – and threatening longstanding freedoms.“ For evidence, they proffer such recent events as Beijing elevating the South China Sea to a „core national interest,“ meaning it is prepared to fight for its maritime territorial claims in Southeast Asia; and China’s vitriolic response to U.S.-South Korean maneuvers in the Yellow Sea.

Giarra and Cronin are half right. Buoyed by growing military power, Chinese interpretations of international law indeed threaten freedom of the seas, a cornerstone of the globalized international order. Beijing in effect regards most of the South China Sea as sovereign waters. It wrote its claim to the islands that dot that expanse into domestic law. And it has taken to asserting the same rights in the exclusive economic zones surrounding the islands that coastal states enjoy in territorial waters.

Forbidding military operations is one such right.

Still, Beijing is not pursuing some unwritten Monroe Doctrine. Washington should take little comfort in this. James Monroe and John Quincy Adams could only envy the ambition driving Chinese policy toward peripheral seas.

The architects of the Monroe Doctrine coveted American primacy in the Western Hemisphere. But unlike Chinese leaders today, they never dreamt of laying claim to waters that washed against their nation’s shores, or of excluding foreign navies from these expanses.

Andere Autoren wiederum sind der Ansicht, dass es zwar Parallelen zwischen China und den USA als aufsteigenden Mächten gebe, aber die Monroedoktrin unter anderen historischen Rahmenbedingungen abgespielt habe als heute im Falle Chinas: Zum einen habe es zur Zeit der Monroedoktrin keine real entgegenwirkenden Kräfte zu den USA gegeben.Im Falle Chinas wären aber andere mächtige Staaten Gegenspieler und Gegengewicht in Asien, wie z.-B. die USA, Indien und andere Staaten. Zum zweiten sei die Verkündigung der Monroe-Dokrtin von den USA zu einem Zeitpunktgekommen, als diese sich einen Handelskrieg mit konkurrierenden Staaten, notabene europäischen Staaten habe leisten können, während China heute ökonomisch zu interdependentmit der Weltwirtschaft und den USA sei, um einen solchen militärischen Konflikt einzugehen.

Beyond the Chinese Monroe doctrine

July 11th, 2011

Author: Amitav Acharya, American University

The escalating regional tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) have revived two crucial questions facing Asia’s strategic future: whether China is pursuing a ‘Monroe Doctrine’ over its neighbourhood, including the SCS area; and how far China’s neighbours can go in acquiescing to its rising power.

Some see parallels between that policy and China’s rise today. The SCS is China’s backyard and, like 19th century-America, China is a rising power.

In his 2001 book, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, John Mearsheimer argued: ‘A wealthy China would not be a status quo power but an aggressive state determined to achieve regional hegemony’. Chinese military modernisation appears to be headed exactly in such a direction, developing what military analysts term ‘anti-access, area denial’ capability. In March 2010, the Commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Robert Willard, warned: ‘China’s rapid and comprehensive transformation of its armed forces … challenge our freedom of action in the region,’ and ‘potentially infringe on their [US allies’] freedom of action’.

Evidence of a Chinese Monroe Doctrine can be seen from its recent actions in the SCS, as reported in recent East Asia Forum articles. But there are major differences between the two historical contexts which make the Monroe Doctrine parallel less than apt.

First, in early 19th century, there was no countervailing force, whether another regional power or an offshore balancer, available to block US regional hegemony over its backyard. The rivalry between Britain and France constrained America in the Western Hemisphere.

China today not only faces the US — an offshore, although some say a ‘resident’, balancer — but also regional balancers such as India, Japan and Russia, should it seek regional hegemony.

Second, the Monroe Doctrine came at a time of historic shift in US economic development. From December 1807 to March 1809, Congress imposed a near-total embargo on US international commerce, a policy that, along with the 1812 US–British war, helped the development of US domestic industry and lowered overall US international economic interdependence. In this climate of reduced dependence on foreign trade, US policymakers did not need to worry about damage to its economic interests if European powers cut off their trade routes to the US.

Compare this to the interdependent global economic order of today, which China depends on. According to a recent report in China Daily, over 60 per cent of China’s GDP now depends on foreign trade. Imported oil accounts for 50 per cent of its oil needs. China’s commerce, and hence prosperity, depends very much on access to sea lanes through the Indian Ocean, the Malacca Straits and other areas over which it has little control, and which are dominated by US naval power. India too has significant naval power in the Indian Ocean.

So if push comes to shove, an aggressive Chinese denial of SCS trade routes to world powers, and the resulting disruption of maritime traffic, would be immensely self-injurious to China. It would provoke countermeasures that will put in peril China’s own access to critical sea lanes in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.

The author is the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance at American University in Washington DC, a Senior Fellow of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. This article originally appeared here in the Straits Times.


Jens Kastner hält in der ASIA TIMES jedoch kleine, lokale Kriege Chinas zu See gegen etwa Vietnam oder die Philipinen für möglich. Doch schon bei Auseinandersetzungen gegen grössere Staaten, wie z.B. Südkorea um die Jejuinseln werde es sich zurückhalten.Gut möglich, dass die USA da nicht intervenieren würden, zumal Vietnam kein Verteidigungsabkommen mit den USA haben und die Philipinen die US-Stützpunkte nach Marcos aus dem Lande getrieben haben (Subic Bay, etc.), wenngleich noch ein Verteidigungsabkommen haben.

Small wars loom large on China’s horizon
By Jens Kastner

TAIPEI – Broad hints have been coming out of China that the country might start small-scale military strikes over disputed waters that are believed to hold rich energy reserves. The consequences of such endeavors would be tolerable to Beijing, international experts say.

Bitter territorial disputes China has with neighbors in the East and South China Seas have long grabbed media headlines. Virtually all countries in the region are involved in spats with China, from South Korea and Japan to the Philippines and Vietnam. In March alone, Beijing had verbal clashes with Seoul over a submerged rock; with Manila over the Philippines‘ plan to build a ferry pier; and with Hanoi over China’s biggest offshore oil explorer’s moves to develop oil and gas fields.

But it wasn’t only words: Vietnamese fishing boats were also seized by China and their crews detained. What all the disputed zones, islands and rocks have in common is that they actually are much nearer to the shores of the rival claimants than to China’s.

When strategists speak of the „Malacca Dilemma“, they mean that Beijing’s sea lines of communications are highly vulnerable. In times of conflict between the US and China, the supply of crude and iron ore needed to keep the Chinese economy alive and kicking could be relatively easily cut off in the straits that connect the Indian Ocean with the Pacific.

As such, a move would force the Chinese leadership rather quickly to the negotiation tables on the enemy’s terms – and as it becomes clearer that the western Pacific holds vast untapped reserves of oil and natural gas – Beijing naturally sees control over the areas as a way out of its precarious situation. (According to Chinese estimates, oil and gas reserves in the western Pacific could meet Chinese demand for more than 60 years.)

With official defense spending to top US$100 billion in 2012, and the actual amount estimated to be much higher, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) seems on course towards building the strength needed to ensure all goes smoothly in China’s quest for energy security.

New ballistic anti-ship missiles will make Washington think twice about ordering US forces into the region to come to their allies‘ rescue, as will a growing arsenal of land-based tactical aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles, not to mention a fleet heavy on missile-firing warships and submarines. Making access to this part of the world even dicier for US forces, China’s ongoing military modernization has also seen an easing of past detection, tracking and targeting problems for Chinese gunners.

If Beijing is confident that Washington would not want to intervene, rival armed forces in the region could be taken on with J-15 fighters to be stationed on China’s first aircraft carrier likely to be commissioned in August, a rapidly increasing number of naval destroyers, as well as brand-new amphibious landing ships and helicopter-carriers that can carry thousands of marines quickly to disputed islands.

That the political will exists for such operations has been signaled more than once. In commentaries run in China’s state media, most notably in the Global Times, the concept of „small-scale wars“ has increasingly been propagated since 2011. In early March, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao emphasized that the PLA needed to be better prepared to fight „local wars“.

Experts interviewed by Asia Times Online agreed that China would likely meet future objectives with limited military strikes.

According to Steve Tsang, director of the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute, much will depend on what the small war is about, how it is conducted and against which country. Tsang believes the South Koreans won’t be the target despite a recent war of words that erupted after the chief of China’s State Oceanic Administration claimed that Leodo Reef, a submerged rock off South Korea’s resort island of Jeju, is almost certainly part of China’s „jurisdictional waters“. Beijing refers to the rock as Suyan Reef.

„China starting even a limited military operation against South Korea would be too serious to be tolerated by anyone,“ Tsang said. „The US would have to take a strong position and immediate action at the United Nations Security Council to impose a ceasefire,“ he added.

However, a minor military confrontation against Vietnam or the Philippines over the disputed atolls in the South China Sea was a very different matter, Tsang argued. „Although China couldn’t take an easy victory against Vietnam for granted, and such wars will be gravely disturbing in Southeast Asia and the rest of East Asia, they will be manageable. If the confrontation would be short and limited, the immediate impact wouldn’t be very significant.“

Tsang warned, however, that a Chinese attack on Vietnam or the Philippines would strengthen the willingness of countries in Southeast Asia cooperate with the United States.

„But fundamentally there is not much those countries can do to counter an assertive China.“

Tsang then took on the notion that the existing mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the US leaves the Southeast Asian country „immune“ to a brief Chinese attack.

James Holmes, an associate professor of strategy at the US Naval War College, says Beijing would likely get away with it if the PLA were to attack the Philippines or Vietnam.

„Beijing would keep any small war as small and out-of-sight as possible. The superiority of its fleet vis-a-vis Southeast Asian militaries, and the advent of new shore-based weaponry like the anti-ship ballistic missile, give China a strong ‚recessed deterrent‘ in times of conflict,“ Holmes said.

He explained that China could hold its major combat platforms in reserve while seeking its goals with relatively innocuous, lightly armed vessels from its maritime security services, which are its equivalents to a coast guard.

„Southeast Asian navies might challenge these ships, but they would do so in full knowledge that People’s Liberation Army could deploy vastly superior sea power should they try it,“ Holmes said.
Economists also don’t see too many obstacles for a small energy war against one China’s Southeast Asian neighbors.

„Stock markets would overreact around the world in the short term – say a few days,“ said Ronald A Edwards, an expert on China’s political economy at Tamkang University in Taiwan.

„But there would be little if any effect in terms of affecting this year’s inflation, employment or output of any country other than the one attacked by China.“

Edwards concluded on a disturbing note. He argued that the outcome of the nine-day-long Russian-Georgian war in 2008, in which Russia used overwhelming force to push Georgia out of South Ossetia, earning Western condemnation, could be taken as an indicator on whether China’s economy would pay dearly for the PLA’s military adventures.

„The brief Russian war with Georgia comes to mind as a very good example for comparison,“ Edwards said. „While the news coverage of this was headlines everywhere for a couple weeks, there were no major economic effects in countries other than Georgia in August of 2008 or thereafter.“

Jens Kastner is a Taipei-based journalist.

Im Westpazifik schlummern Öl- und Gasreserven, die Chinas Bedarf für die nächsten 60 Jahre decken könnten.Von daher dürfte sich China, insofern es daran denkt diese Ansprüche mit militärischer Gewalt durchzusetzen, das schwächste Glied in der Kette heraussuchen, dass scheinbar momentan Vietnam ist. Es bleibt abzuwarten, inwieweit sich Vietnam an die USA als Gegengewicht annähern und vielleicht auch ein Verteidigungsabkommen schliesst. Dennoch werden auch schon Modelle überlegt, die Rohstoffresourcen in den umstrittenen Meeresgebieten gemeinschaftlich auszubeuten. So gibt es hier schon konkrete Vorschläge bezüglich des Ostchinesischen Meeres und einer sino-japanischen Kooperation, die den Konflikt so auf friedlichem Wege beilegt—so z.B. die Studie des Brookings Institutes von Professor Guo Rongxin:

Exploitation: Some Options for the East China Sea

Guo Rongxing, Professor and Head of the Regional Economics Committee of the Regional Science Association of China, Peking University; CNAPS Visiting Fellow, Spring 2010

The Brookings Institution

China hat noch nicht offziell eine Monroe-Doktrin erklärt. Insofern sie geheim exisitiert, wird aber ihre praktische Umsetzung auch von den konkrten Kärfteverhältnissen und internationalen Rahmenbedingungen abhängen. Wie gesagt: Kleine, lokale Seekriege sind möglich, aber gegen grössere Staaten wie etwa Südkorea oder Japan traut sich China noch nicht heran.Die Frage wird auch sein, inwieweit die USA faktisch bereit und imstande sein werden, China hier militärisch abzuschrecken. US-Präsident Obamas „Return to Asia“ und das Airseabattle klingen da für die asiatischen Staaten, die sich von China bedroht fühlen, ermutigend. Aber in den USA werden auch Stimmen laut, die nachfragen, ob die hehren Versprechungen materiell auch real durchzuhalten sind:

Why the U.S. won’t pivot to Asia anytime soon

Editor’s Note: Robert E. Kelly, Senior Analyst at Wikistrat, is a professor of political science at Pusan National University, South Korea

By Robert E. Kelly – Special to CNN

A U.S. ‘pivot’ to Asia is the foreign policy talk of the moment, but I think Americans are unlikely to embrace it.

True, Asia outweighs other global regions as a U.S. interest. Europe and Latin America are mostly democratic, fairly prosperous and at peace. Africa, sadly, remains a U.S. backwater. The Middle East is overrated. Israel and oil are important but hardly justify the vast U.S. presence. The terrorist threat is ‘overblown.’

By contrast, Asia’s economies are growing fast. Asian savers and banks fund the U.S. deficit. Asia’s addition of two billion people to the global labor pool kept world inflation down for a generation. Asian markets are now major export destinations for American industries. Five hundred million people live in the Middle East but three times that just in India. Half the world’s population lives in South, Southeast, and Northeast Asia.

Lots of people mean friction, and lots of money means weapons. Big, tightly packed, fast-growing economies spend more for bigger militaries, while nationalism and territorial grievances create sparks. Regional conflict would dwarf anything the world has seen since the Cold War. China’s rise to regional hegemony would have obvious ramifications for the U.S.

But four trends in U.S. domestic politics contravene this narrative:

1. Americans don’t care that much about Asia

Which constituency in America cares enough about this region to drive a realignment away from long-standing U.S. interests in Europe and the Middle East? The business community might, but they’re souring today because of China’s relentless mercantilism. Asian-Americans are few and have not loudly organized to demand this. Asian security is still scarcely on the media radar compared to the coverage of U.S. domestic politics or the Middle East.

Does Obama’s electoral coalition care? As a rule of thumb, the less wealthy you are, the less you care about far-off issues like foreign policy. So it’s unlikely that the underprivileged and youth who helped Obama win care much. While college-educated whites, who also broke for Obama, likely support this, the rest of the Democratic coalition traditionally focuses on domestic issues.

By contrast, the GOP deeply cares about the Middle East. Something like 30-40% of Americans claim to have had a born-again experience. For them, Israel is, easily, America’s most important ally, which the Republican primary on made very obvious. A Kulturkampf with Islam, not Asia, mobilizes these ‘Jacksonian-Christianist’ voters.

What does the Tea Party know or care about China or India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, or Taoism? It’s all about culture and religion to the base of the American right these days, and Asia is like another planet to those voters.

2. Americans know less about Asia than any other region bar central Africa

Of course, it’s true Americans don’t know a lot about the world generally. As a superpower, we don’t have to know about others; others have to know about us. But Asia is the most culturally different social space in the world from the U.S. I can think of, with the possible exception of Bantu Africa.


3. U.S. allies can do a lot of the work

The Middle East is characterized by so many non-democracies that the U.S. must be heavily invested to meet current goals – oil, Israel, counterterrorism. America has no strong subordinate anchor-state in the region, so an enduring presence is necessary for actions like dual containment (Iran and Iraq) of the 90s, and or the Iraq war of the 2000s.

By contrast, in Asia America has lots of allies and semi-friends who are strong and functional – Japan, Australia, Korea, and Taiwan – with improving relations with India and Vietnam too.

Smart policy would push a lot of the costs of American goals in Asia onto them. Why should America encircle, contain, or otherwise fence with China, when the frontline states should do it first? They don’t want to be dominated by China, and they will suffer a lot more than the U.S. if China becomes the regional hegemon. So America can hover in the background, offshore, over the horizon.

4. America can’t really afford it anymore

America obviously needs to spend less, and money which could fund domestic entitlements is going to defense instead. The opportunity cost of buying aircraft carriers to semi-contain China is cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Those programs, plus Defense, comprise around 70% of the U.S. budget, making the ‘pivot’ a classic guns vs. butter trade-off. America’s debt exceeds ten trillion dollars and its deficit a trillion. Bush borrowed hugely, and the Great Recession worsened the red ink.

Given China’s enormity, a U.S. build-up in the region could cost massive sums that just aren’t there anymore. The average American voter will see that domestic entitlements are suffering to fund the continuing post-9/11 U.S. military expansion. It is unlikely Americans will choose guns over butter (aircraft carriers instead of checks for grandma) in the medium-term.

Inwieweit also China eine Monroe-Doktrin ausrufen kann oder verfolgen kann, hängt in erster Linie von der Stärke der USA und der Bereitschaft anderer asiatischer Staaten ab, China auch militärisch abzuschrecken sowie ebenso dem Vermögen zu friedlichen Kooperationsmodellen für die umstrittenenen Meeresgebiete zu kommen, die einen militärischen Konflikt obsolet machen.

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