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Viewed 421 times 2015-6-12 20:34 |System category:News

Aside from the themed posts of the original author, insightful comments from other forumites are also on my list for translation. Below are two sets of dialogues, one on the impact of latitude, the other on the strategic foci of China.



Dialogues on the Impact of Latitude



【Forumite A commenting on the post of the original author】


It is not of much use to overemphasize on history, whose general trajectory is the continual invasion of low-latituders1 and the promotion of their cultures by high-latituders at the sacrifice of the latter’s aggressivity and fighting capacity until a new wave of high-latituders restart the cycle.


Places of turmoil usually prove difficult for preserving a form of culture, which consequently often thrives at the brims of a continent. For example, in European history, such sanctuaries were western or northern Europe where further escape seemed impossible until the Age of Discovery made the American continent as a new haven for war refugees and all sorts of peoples; in Chinese history, because of the continual southward movement of Northern races, the alleged Han culture was gradually cornered in the SE of China, where it was undermined in the late Qing Dynasty by imperial powers from the sea and subsequent warfare, a fact that in turn catalyzed in the North of China the revival of inland cultures, which once again drove the vestige of the classical Han culture to some isolated island in the latest Civil War.


The geopolitical status of India is indeed analogous to that of China, but the extreme low latitude of India constitutes a serious problem that any races, after settling there, lost their enterprise. Currently the high-latituders in India are the higher caste lacking the drive to reform the social workings while the low-latituders seem resigned to being at the bottom equally inanimate, a situation similar to that of China in Qing Dynasty.



【The Original Author replying to forumite A】


Well said. The climatic condition molded by latitude is nevertheless an integral part of geopolitics. The ultimate problem for the development of low-latitude areas is no doubt temperature. This is because high temperature tremendously strains humans’ enterprise and thus productivity; moreover, places of high temperature and moisture are normally profuse with resources, which in turn breeds inertia, so ancient civilizations could easily thrive on such God’s gift but were mostly fragile.


However, human capability of transforming the nature has witnessed a steady enhancement ever since the Industrial Revolution, as is evidenced by the power of technology to change people’s lives, such as air-conditioning. The impact of latitude has also seen a steady decline – the discrepancies in physique have been overshadowed by technology advancement – so the prospect for India should not be underestimated because of its latitude, just as it is equally foolish to disparage the efforts of China, a traditional land power, to march to the ocean. The world is constantly changing.


History is a mirror and thus still worthy of study. International relations were not formed in a day but proceeded with inherent historical logic, the understanding of which is vital to the elucidation of the present.




Heated Debates on China’s Strategic Foci



【Forumite B challenging the original author】


A few word on China’s foci! Do not be misled by the riotous situations in the West of China to think that place is the center of our national strategy. The focus of China’s strategy are the SE2 instead of the W2. The possible failure in a peaceful resolution of Taiwan issue will trigger immediately a full-scale war, which may dangerously engage U.S. South China Sea is the strategic focus, not the W, which only concerns such boring metaphysical notions as self-esteem.




【Forumite C replying the forumite B】


It isn’t a question of whether the strategic foci of China is the S and E – this much is of no doubt – but a question of whether we have the proper means to attain our strategic purpose. For the very reason that the S and E are critical, accordingly the power of containment there is the strongest. In my opinion, the way out of the predicament lies in the W.


This is because navy is China’s heel of Achilles. It would be courting defeat by fighting against overwhelming odds for us to confront U.S. and Japan, both traditional maritime powers, on the sea. It is no problem for China to break through the first island chain, but will be an immense challenge to rise to the equal of U.S. on the entire western Pacific by breaching the second island chain where we have no foothold. The plan of U.S. is to gradually loosen its control of the first island chain till relinquishment based on the growth of China’s strength, and then to lure the fledgling power to attempt attack of the second island chain in hopes of an entire or partial destruction of Chinese navy and hence the depletion of much, if not all, of China’s strength.


It is against such contingencies that the strategic importance of China’s west stands out. Containment basically means restrictions on the subsistence and development space of the opponent. Regardless of the intensity of the confrontation, it will be a long-term standoff because both sides after all are big powers. Confrontation needs a home front, and a long term one requires resources, as the saying goes “supply goes before troops”. That’s when the W, as the home front and granary of China, comes in handy.


Furthermore, the W along with Pakistan can function as a liaison for China to either provide the Middle East with any necessary assistance or exert on it a certain degree of influence, a tactic reserved by China that not only offsets the odds in its S and E but averts the escalation of confrontation by achieving a balance of terror. Some may argue that there are also powers of containment around the W of China. Despite the truth of it, it would be equally foolish for such powers to challenge us on the continent where our strength lies formidable. We can easily thwart their encirclement by launching counter-encirclement moves and even return the favor by besieging them instead.


In conclusion, the W of China where we now adopts a defensive poise is where we’ll advance, while the island chains to the S & E of China where the containment powers stay defensive are in fact the bases for their future offense.



【Forumite B challenging the original author】


What is the problem of India? Pakistan? Minor dispute over a tiny piece of land is no big deal. Paki-Indo relations largely rest on India’s attitude toward the Muslins. Given the current situation, they are right on the way to congeniality.


Indian Ocean is the focus of India’s strategy, which is intertwined with an Asian version of NATO – An oceanic arc that encompasses India, Australia, U.S., Japan, and maybe Singapore – controlling the almost sole passageway of China’s maritime transportation.



【Forumite C replying to forumite B】


A tiny piece of land is nevertheless a weighty issue of territorial integrity in itself, not to mention the actual area of Kashmir. Friendly acts are only for show; confrontation is the mainstream.


So long as Pakistan stands tall, India is confined to the subcontinent and unable to advance northward, a fact that alleviates considerably in Middle East and Central Asia the pressure of competition, making things much easier for China. This partly explains why China, in its territorial disputes with India, would rather give up its claim on Zang Nan (literally the South of Tibet, currently under the jurisdiction of Arunachal Pradesh, India) in the east in exchange for India’s recognition of the barren land of Aksai Chin (currently under the actual control of China) in the west, which borders with Pakistan.


The shift of India’s focus to Indian Ocean, which you say is the center of India’s strategy, is in fact Plan B, a choice from no choice. Just because the future of India lies with the ocean does not mean its current priority is accordingly the ocean, since Middle East would only be a hairbreadth away without Pakistan in between. Wouldn’t India be in a better position to assert its right on the Indian Ocean if it could at first make itself be heard in the Middle East? Sadly, the fact that Pakistan stands firm and steady with the help of China has disillusioned India over the land and forced it to think otherwise, i.e. look to the ocean, a makeshift solution with mixed outlook because U.S. Fifth Fleet is there watching India. U.S. will surely welcome an Indian Navy that is strong enough for aiding in the maintenance of order on the Indian Ocean, but not strong enough to challenge its sovereign predominance. It is a hard life for India that it has to be very careful either way it looks.


You also suggest that India could try cutting off the route of China’s energy supply. If this trick alone could strangle China, what is U.S. waiting for? It could have brought us down long ago. I’ll skip the explanation here since I already mentioned some previously.



【The original author replying to forumite C】


I agree with you. The importance of Pakistan to India is tantamount to that of Xinjiang to China, and it is not merely about homeland security, but more importantly about India’s big power dream. Should India be able to keep Pakistan, it would naturally intervene in issues of Arabian Peninsula and Iran, over both of which, thanks to their strategic positions and natural resources, a nation’s voice must be heard for asserting its power-hood. Sadly, India is constantly haunted by the nightmare of Pakistan, while China has reserved the right to commune with Allah by keeping Xinjiang even though the Chinese heartland is that far away (check out the map by the link at the end of this post).


Mentioned earlier was an idea that China’s future lies in the SE and the W is marginal. Quite on the contrary, it is because of the need to march into the ocean that the W have turned ever more important. China’s sea power vision largely consists in the protection of our interests over the Indian Ocean, contradicting India’s vision to monopolize the ocean, so we have to maintain sufficient pressure on it over the land. Going out to the ocean is essentially complementary to going into the continent.




1. A term coined by the translator for the sake of convenience in translation, meaning peoples who inhabit in places of low latitudes; by analogy, high-latituders mean peoples from places of high latitudes.

2. Both refer to places within China. For convenience, almost all the directions in this dialogue are abbreviated and refer to places under Chinese control unless noticed otherwise.


Please check out the map on the influence of India and China by this link:

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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