by Austin Bay
June 1, 2022
Communist China's violations of Taiwanese airspace and sea space are a physical indication Beijing targets Taiwan as the world's next Ukraine.
At the tactical level -- the level where a shooter seeks a target -- Beijing's sorties probe Taiwan's frontline air and sea defenses, seeking weaknesses and assessing reaction time.
At the strategic level -- the Big Picture, which includes diplomacy and economics -- the in-and-out feints of Beijing jets and fast attack warships test Taiwan's allies. The feints ask this question: Do Taiwan's alleged allies have the will to help the island resist a mainland Chinese assault?
That's definitely a world-war-sized question.
Last week, President Joe Biden said America was committed to Taiwan's defense. Then Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin walked Joe's words back, very adroitly.
Hard fact: In the past week Taiwan reported over 30 communist Chinese aircraft violated the island's air defense zone. Twenty of the planes were high performance jet fighters -- death dealers. The probes were the second largest incursion into Taiwan's air defense zone in 2022.
It would be hyperbolic to call the air intrusions a specific test of Slow Joe's confused commitment.
However, in the Big Picture, there is no doubt Beijing is challenging the U.S. and the rest of the world.
China is pursuing aggressive strategic initiatives aimed at achieving global domination. It's based on a mythic world vision where China, a reborn Middle Kingdom, sets the global agenda. Forget "All Roads Lead to Rome." After 2030 (give or take) all critical decisions proceed from Beijing.
Middle Kingdom defined: Chinese emperors thought they and their dominions were the center of the world. They were the only civilized human beings on the planet. China ruled. Everyone else? Tributary nations.
Now Chinese leader Xi Jinping has adopted the same grandiose schtick.
Here's a point pertinent to this essay's strategic analysis: There is nothing private in communist China. Corporations, assets, all organizations and ultimately all people are subjects of the communist state. Being subjects of the state means the decisions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are final. All hail the Middle Kingdom.
Which takes us to the Ethiopian drilling rig incident in April 2007 when the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) attacked a Chinese oil facility in Ethiopia. The attack left 65 Ethiopian troops and nine Chinese workers dead. Seven Chinese workers were taken prisoner. The ONLF regarded oil drilling as theft.
China had already formed private security companies (PSCs) but after that incident the PSCs became increasingly powerful. Chinese oil rigs must be defended!
But Beijing has moved from protecting rigs to military preparation.
In May 2022, Jane's Intelligence Review argued Chinese PRCs provide Beijing with a potentially wider foreign intelligence collection source.
They are more than that. PSCs have become forward deployed Chinese military forces. The Jane's report is excellent, but it pulls its punches with lines like the PSCs are "led by former security officers, and their core personnel have been recruited from the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army), People's Armed Police (PAP), and police force." The Jane's report acknowledges that China's premier PSC, the Haiwei Group, "has close ties with the government."
Remember: There is nothing private in communist China.
Like the giant Huawei electronics corporation (which faces numerous allegations of spying for Beijing), Haiwei's ties to the government indicate it is beholden to the CCP.
Jane's makes this sly admission: The connections between the PLA and PSCs are evidence of China's "civil-military fusion (CMF) strategy."
Where do the PSCs operate? In mineral rich sub-Saharan Africa and near African and South Asian seaports China regards as commercially and militarily valuable.
Beware: Beijing is attempting to create new security "arrangements" in the Pacific and central Asia. I suspect Beijing's PSCs will take their weapons there as well.