Thursday, May 31, 2007

A sleeping dragon rises from hibernation

Apprehension sips into the spines of leaders of many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, where China is observed to be dominating in so far as international trade and advancement in modern warfare are concerned. And who wouldn't? With rising economic growth, sparked by its extensive industrial developments taking shape in almost all parts of the country, the dragon has risen after many years of hibernation.

With a population of more than a billion people, China has not slackened economically and militarily. In fact, its trade surplus with the United States has reached more than US$200 million, a figure that the U.S. Congress is irritated to look at. With a low paid labor force, who is not allowed to protest, China has become a favorite place for multinationals that wish to relocate their plants there owing to cheap labor and low overhead expenses. As a matter of fact, these factors are reshaping the mindset of many corporate big wigs to try their luck on a former sleeping giant. But China has morphed from a weakling to a robust bear ready to pounce on anything. And China seemed hell bent on pursuing its goals to reacquire land possessions which it believed it owns.

Recently, it came out in the news that China had amassed soldiers and armaments to a place just across Taiwan strait. Many international observers have perceived this movement as a show of force as if in preparation for a big offensive against a tiny and independent nation like Taiwan.After getting back Hong Kong and Macau, China is again focused on the possibility of getting back Taiwan, now under protection from the United States.

In so far regional security is concerned, some countries around the Asia-Pacific rim are worried by China's actuation's and aggressive international trade strategies that solicited attention from economic observers worldwide. With so much international reserves and trade surpluses, it is perhaps heading towards a new direction in its foreign and security policies. For example, it was reported that it is building up an extensive arsenal of military hardware, while at the same time, establishing a network of expansions across the globe in the areas of energy explorations and investments. As it dips its hands into these ventures, China keeps its international diplomacy intact and untarnished. For how long, nobody knows. But for sure, it has billions in excess cash to fund future projects overseas, if only to keep its international economic clout much stronger and stable.

However, underlying all this brings doubts and skepticisms among its neighbors, particularly the member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where military strength is not as dependable as it should be. They thought that China may assert its position in the long run, a signal that will catch them by surprise. But it appears now that China's only motive is to protect the flow of oil supply into the country. And it can only do so by controlling, perhaps, the international major oil route which is the South China Sea. In the past, China had already attempted to encroach on some of the Spratly Islands believed to be inside the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines, a long time ally of the United States, by erecting concrete structures intended to serve its fleet of naval ships. Thanked to the U.S. satellite which was able to track down the ongoing build-up in the area and relayed the information to the Philippine government.

In the diplomatic confrontation, China claimed the islands were under its jurisdiction but later gave in to international pressures by destroying the structures it built in one of the Spratly Islands.

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