Friday, February 8, 2008

China's been busy

While everyone on this side of the Pacific is concerned with Bush/the Economy/Briney Spears/Iraq, China has been busy, and not just in preparation for the Olympics.

On the military front:

China has built itself the 2nd largest submarine fleet in the world. Larger than Russia. Including quiet, nuclear powered and even a few boomers [ballistic missile submarines].

Gone out and outfitted a Russian aircraft carrier and named it the Shi Lang (the last Chinese emperor to invade Taiwan). The story of the Varyag is absolutely fascinating. It was bought by a front company while it was being scrapped by Ukrainians. The cover story was it was going to turned into a floating casino in Macao (despite the fact the harbor is too shallow for a deep draft vessel like a carrier). It then had a long, interesting journey across the globe (bypassing Macao) and ending up in China's largest naval shipyard, where it's been refitted and painted PLAN [Chinese navy] gray. Varyag-World has been covering this story in great detail for some time. If you liked reading Blind Man's Bluff, you'll love reading Varyag World. It's still being updated.

China, nervous about US military activity all around them, denies US navy ships shelter during storm.

Chinese interests are seeking to buy 3Com, one of the primary suppliers of US military secured-communications equipment. 3Com is just one of many companies the Chinese are taking an interest in.

On the environmental front:

China has passed the US as the most polluting country in the world.

The Yangtze River dolphin has gone extinct.

Beijing's smog has gotten so bad you can't see across the street. That'll look great on the Olympic broadcasts.

Speaking of the Olympics, athletes are bringing their own food because the Chinese food has so much steroids, the athletes will test positive from eating the chicken.

On the energy front:

China doubling oil tanker fleet. There are now so many oil tankers pulling up to China's coast, there aren't enough places for them to dock.

1 year ago, China became a net importer of coal. In December 2007 it imported 4.3 million tons of coal. The US is the "Saudi Arabia of coal" and 4.3 million tons would be 1/3 of monthly net exports.

China freezes energy prices in an attempt to deal with a severe diesel shortage. China has been subsidizing energy costs to the tune of $15.7 billion for their steel industry alone. Just imagine if Blanco told Krupp, 'we're going to pick up half the bill for your energy.' Krupp would have been here in a heartbeat. Just imagine the sort of unfair competitive advantage that gives Chinese companies...

On the economic front:

Speaking of competitive advantage, how's tortured slave labor for y'a? Up from your bootstraps you fat, lazy, unionized worker!

Major banks rescued by China's sovereign wealth fund. "The idea of China rushing to the rescue of the capitalist world seems so unlikely as to be unbelievable."

China's only going to do so much, though. They are quietly revaluing the yuan. Part of it is an effort to decouple from the US economy. Part of it is to fight inflation in the major cities that's fermenting unrest. Remember, runaway inflation was a factor in the Tienanmen Square protests.

Unlike the author of this what if scenario [Bush refuses to give up power in Jan '09 and Chinese invade], I don't think China's a threat to the US, but we're stupid not to pay attention to them. I think China's economy is going to overheat, pollution will get so bad not even Fox News could content the people, and the 4-2-1 problem will lead to a social security crisis that will put ours to shame will combine to lead China to focus more on internal problems than stepping up to take a leading role in a multi-polar world.


oyster said...

What a tremendous compilation this is! Interesting links sprinkled throughout! And I loved the analytical bullet points.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

Xie xie. (Thank you.)

Clay said...

I wanted to write more about the Varyag. I just can't get enough of the story.

The Varyag was supposed to be one of a new class of Russian carrier. Not quite a supercarrier (like the Nimitz class), but bigger than anything the Russians had built to date. Russian goes down the shitter and the Varyag rots away in a Ukrainian shipyard for a few years.

Some ex-PLAN officers get together and form a front company that buys the Varyag to turn it into a casino in Macao (possibly also assassinating a Macao government official who got to nosy). The purchase price is 3 times the scrap value of the steel of the Varyag.

The ship sets sail for Macao, but the Turks won't let it out of the Black Sea. The ship circles the Black Sea for a month waiting on permission from Turkey. The Turks don't let big warships through and they think the Chinese are going to refit the ship for war. After long, high-level negotiations between Chinese and Turkish officials, the ship finally makes it through. Well, the ship breaks it's tow lines and takes over a year to make it to China. There are rumors of Western attempts to sabotage the ship during its journey. Cost of the tow: $10 million.

The ship makes it all the way to China where it is stripped, blasted, and repainted in PLAN gray. Meanwhile, China successfully purchases Russian STOL aircraft and arresting gear...

That's just a brief sampling of the story. It's full of back room deals, intrigue, and a host of shady characters.

We shall see what happens. I'm willing to bet the Varyag makes a dramatic appearance at the Olympics...

jeffrey said...

In fact, the whole of Northeast Asia is becoming a powder keg as of late.

One more link

jeffrey said...

Don't know if that fits.

Try this

Clay said...

One of the things I find interesting about the Chinese buildup is how there's a good chunk of their military leaders reading what our military leaders wrote in the past. Their naval officers seem especially keen on the writings of Hyman Rickover. Admiral Rickover wrote that carriers 'wouldn't last 24 hours in a real war' and submarines are the most effective naval platform, due to their stealth and survivability.

Being a history buff, it reminds me of how the Japanese and Germans read Billy Mitchell and JFC Fuller before WWII. The Europeans leanred Fuller's preaching the hard way (Poland and France). Americans gained a newfound respect for air power after Pearl Harbor.

The US Navy's worst nightmare for the past 50 years has been losing a supercarrier. Hope they don't learn Rickover's preachings the hard way.