China: Silk roads and open seas, by Pepe Escobar

Chinese missile destroyers (Reuters/China Daily)
Chinese missile destroyers (Reuters/China Daily)

Beijing’s disclosure earlier this week of its latest military white paper, outlining a new doctrine moving beyond offshore defense to “open seas” defense, predictably rattled every exceptionalist’s skull and bone.

Almost simultaneously, in Guangzhou, the annual Stockholm China Forum, hosted by the German Marshall Fund and the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, was mired in deep thought examining the vast Eurasian integration project known in China as “One Road, One Belt”.

What is also known as the New Silk Road project – displaying all the romantic connotations of a remix of a golden era – is not only about new roads, high-speed railways, pipelines and fiber optics, but also about a naval network from East Asia all the way to the Middle East and Europe.

So Chinese maritime expansion in the “open seas” – from the South China Sea to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean – had to be intimately tied to protection of the Maritime Silk Road.

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