China’s Plan to Conquer the Ocean

published on July 3, 2020

China has a plank to conquer the high

seas can the US stop it before it's too

late

[Music]

welcome back to China uncensored I'm

Chris Chappell

joining me today is Captain Jim Finnell

the former director of intelligence and

information operations for the US

Pacific Fleet that's a us Navy thanks

for joining me today thanks Chris happy

to beat her so China is talking about

these blue economic passages and

according to Chinese state-run media

these are harmless ocean trade routes

that will connect Oceania and Africa in

Europe so is that really true are they

harmless it sounds really benign but I

think it's not just economic development

of the extension into the maritime

domain of their belt and Road initiative

I think it's part of a larger strategy

that china has for returning and China

to its what they believe is their

rightful role in place in the world

they're great rejuvenation that and the

achievement of the China dream so are we

talking the period ambitions here it

kind of to say that it comes across as

conspiracy theory but it certainly seems

like that's the seeds of what they're

sowing today and and they've been

working on for the last few years at

least in the South Pacific I know you

were recently in the South Pacific what

did you see there what we saw was we

went to Carabosse in the Solomon Islands

in Bougainville and what we saw was in

at least those first two countries their

governments had switch recognition from

Taipei to Beijing diplomatic recognition

these are tiny island nations and there

are a sole nations in the in the

Melanesian and Polynesia and Micronesia

area of the South Pacific and they've

switched their recognition right after

you know the Chinese apparently have

paid off a few of their members of

parliament and bribed some people and

attempted to bribe others and so it

seemed and then come in with big you

know infrastructure packages and

purchases to try to

essentially tell the locals in these

areas if you if you align with us you'll

make yourselves rich so what did you see

on the ground in places like the Solomon

Islands or care about it's like how are

the people reacting to this uniformly

the people in kara bawson

in the Solomon Islands the sense that we

got was that they felt like they had

been betrayed by their governments and

not consulted we talked to one dear lady

and Tuilagi

who's in that society to have

matrilineal ownership of the land so she

was a land owner and a very nice woman

and she was said you know we were

betrayed we weren't consulted this is

not a decision that we agree with and we

heard the same things in Guadalcanal in

in in some of the parts of Carabosse

Bougainville hasn't gotten to that quite

step yet but clearly they their

sentiments were in terms of principles

and the things that they believe in

they're more aligned to our way of

thinking and the Western democracies

than they are with I mean we heard they

said we're not communist we don't like

communism but if they offer this money

you know well nobody else offers us

anything then have to do but in terms of

their their the in Carabosse and the

Solomons it was very clear that they

felt like these people had taken these

bags of money in the middle of the night

and then changed the vote and and now i

even heard this morning from a contact

in the Solomons that there's a little

bit of buyer's remorse going on really

yeah it happened fast yeah because there

was talk before these agreements that oh

man once the Chinese come in we're all

gonna you know check your bank account

it's gonna you're gonna have thousands

in there in your bank account and it

really hasn't materialized yet well I

see how that's a problem for Taiwan but

is that really bad china's giving these

places they're very poor all this

economic development how do you argue

against that well on the face of it it

wouldn't seem bad and it's actually for

some of the local nations if if nobody

else is going to help them then why not

accept these kind of offers because

they're some of the places are in

destitute poverty but the concern that

we should have is that these islands and

their Dziedzic geographic location

the same kind of challenge that we saw

80 years ago when Japan took all these

islands through military force so China

is using a different model right now

which is to come in with soft power and

economic power and diplomatic power well

you know part of it is designed to

isolate Taiwan but part of it is to

extend this essentially what I called an

iron bar through the South Pacific and

it would essentially separate Australia

and New Zealand from the rest of the

world now as an American maybe some

people would say what do we care if

Australia and New Zealand are isolated

how would we get our Vegemite exactly

and you know kangaroos how will we see

kangaroos so there's there's an issue

there but there's a larger strategic

issue which is to say that in the event

of a crisis or a concern that America

would have in the region we would need

to have some kind of basing for military

forces like we did in World War Two in

Australia New Zealand present that as an

option for us so from a purely military

standpoint having Australia New Zealand

cut off makes it much harder for us to

deal with defending Taiwan or defending

Japan from Chinese aggression in you

know you know a large-scale conflict so

China is essentially extending its

control of the Pacific region yeah their

cement this is cementing their position

and if they are able to establish these

line of islands that are aligned to them

diplomatically and then in the future

allow them to bring in military forces

so you think military is what comes next

not in the next step I mean I think the

next step is you're going to see much

more presence of their fishing fleet

because China needs to feed their

population and this waters of the five

degrees north five degrees south of the

Equator is called the tuna belt and

there's a lot of tuna there that helps

feed people and these are prime waters

and these small island nations can't

control their exclusive economic zones

because they just don't have large

navies and they don't have satellites

and things to know who's in there water

poaching so I think the Chinese will

when they come in with their fishing

fleets they'll also bring their state

oceanic administration and the Chinese

Coast Guard and the people's armed

forces maritime militia

that this will all be brought in

together and part of the package will be

hey we'll help you survey surveil you're

easy to make sure that other countries

aren't poaching which you know it's kind

of it'll be a smooth way they do that

but that once they start information

sharing with these nations that will be

another layer of entrenchment and so it

seems like in the very near term this is

actually gonna hurt the people of these

island nations because they're gonna be

short of fish I think what will happen

is is that China will be smart about it

and they'll probably helped them build

fish fish canneries and imports and

things of that nature and they'll

probably give them a slice of the of the

profit or in some sense so there'll

probably be a boost initially in money

but it won't be the full amount of the

resources that that these nations if

they could develop them themselves in a

free and open and transparent commercial

opportunity could reap in the long term

so at what point do you think the

Chinese Navy would get involved well

we've already seen reports of Chinese

naval vessels making trips down to

Australia and New Zealand we've had

reports in the last couple of years of

Chinese a long-range aircraft flying out

of the South China southern China into

the Philippines and refueling and then

going on down to New Zealand so I mean

how much I'm not saying that there's

going to be military aircraft flying in

and out of Guadalcanal and Honoria and

things of that nature in the next couple

of years but the idea is that they're

setting the seeds for these

infrastructure projects that would allow

them to build ports and the if they do

like they did in Vanuatu they build this

800 you know metre long pier for a small

country that didn't really need it well

what could go in there and this I think

60 minutes Australia reported last year

I mean you could put in there a Chinese

aircraft carrier in there easily so

China's trying to develop its own blue

ocean capabilities well they help they

have been developing their own blue blue

water ocean capabilities for the last

decade and this is just another place

where it can be expanded into so I know

some people would say what's the

difference between the US Navy we're

willing the oceans or as a Chinese

Navy ruling the ocean what would you say

that I would say that our Navy doesn't

bully and harass people and you know

take their Islands they're their

territory in their exclusive economic

zone like China did with Scarborough

Shoal in 2012 or build seven islands

down in the Spratly Islands and inside

the exclusive economic zone in Malaysia

in the Philippines and Vietnam

they haven't I mean there's been reports

that Chinese actors in South laconia

show blowing up things and you know

taking their markers that say this is a

Malaysian atoll and blowing it ups and

then they can put in a Chinese flag so

that's those are just random examples

there's other examples where the Chinese

are challenging people military

aircrafts like in the Taiwan Strait

saying we you can't travel through the

Taiwan Strait everyone in the world

knows that's an international Passage

yet China wants to say that you can't go

through there unless you ask my

permission so that kind of attitude and

their their response to the

International Court or the permanent

Court of Arbitration case in 2016 where

they said this is a farce and we're not

going to follow the court's ruling these

are all signals of an attitude that says

we get to do whatever we want and then

let me ask what just add one more we

also have these cases of US and other

aircraft being lased

out in Djibouti and in the East and

South China Sea by Chinese Chinese

vessels Chinese forces lazed is like

shining a laser in a pilot's eyes is

only one one reason you do that to blind

the guy and then then he crashes and

dies so it's a very serious provocation

and we kind of haven't held them

accountable for that so how much of a

concern is this actually because can the

Chinese Navy really rival the United

States well as I've said in other forums

I think the Chinese Navy does rival the

US Navy inside the the asia-pacific you

know inside the second island chain in

terms of the number of platforms that

they have that can shoot missiles to

sink our fleet and I shipped cruise

missiles from the surface ships from

their submarines from their aircraft

land-based cruise missiles

land-based ballistic missiles that are

designed to kill carriers like the DF 21

and DF 26 so China's built a layered

defensive capability to keep the US

military at arm's length from the Taiwan

contingency the Senkakus contingency and

any contingency in the South China Sea I

think what we're going to see over the

next decade is them extend that counter

intervention strategy beyond the second

island chain so really keep American

forces from even getting from Hawaii

into the Guam area also what would that

mean for the world if the us is denied

access to basically the entire western

Pacific well it would be denied in a

conflict on a daily basis it wouldn't

mean anything initially but in the event

of a conflict where China said we want

to you know we're tired of America or we

don't like what they did with Hong Kong

act the act that the Congress passed the

President signed where they say that's

you know unacceptable and we're going to

show you they could block off something

there they could isolate something or

they can conduct a a quarantine or a

blockade of of some place and you know

essentially starve somebody out if they

wanted to and we'd be hard-pressed to

break that without you know escalating

the situation so they could use it as a

as a ratcheting up technique a part of

the salami slicing strategy that we

haven't really seen we've seen them

incremental e inch forward in in

geographic areas and statements and

postures but we haven't actually seen

them do it in the like in a military

more militaristic way well I know these

blew economic passages not just in the

South Pacific it's also going up to the

Arctic it's going to Europe to Africa

what's happening in those other branches

of this well we're seeing

I mean they've really been focused the

first one was from the South China Sea

into the Indian Ocean and then up into

the Mediterranean and then the Baltic I

was up on a shift in the Baltic a

Chinese ship that's they routinely send

ships up there exercise with the

Russians up there so they've made

inroads into Europe you know she has

been meeting with the French and the

Italians and they've assigned some

agreements for the belt

Road initiative and ports and Genoa

ports and Trieste I expect to see more

ports in France come under some kind of

an agreement I wouldn't be surprised

that that would happen you have the base

in Djibouti remember for years they said

we don't have it we're never gonna have

any overseas military bases I mean you

can pull out you can pull out you know

reams and reams of analysis from think

tanks in this town that said that would

never happen and yet there it sits so

what else are we seeing that they're

doing on the west coast of Africa down

on the east coast of South America and

Argentina and Brazil where else are they

expanding so that they can have the

presence to be able to operate I think

it's coming and we've just been

reluctant to predict the future even

though they tell us what it is yeah I

was thinking that a lot of the things

the Chinese commies party is doing and

like the Solomon Islands it sounds very

similar to merit a Nia in the western

Africa same fishing things saying it's a

it's a model they have a model and it

seems to be pretty effective so what

does all this mean for your average

American well what it means is that the

end of the day if you don't address this

in another 20 years 30 years by 2049

China will have established a system of

governance that will allow Beijing and

the Chinese Communist Party to control

the levers of power and what it will

mean in real terms is instead of having

the market dictate how how many iPhones

we make or how many cars we build or how

many jackets we buy or how many shoes we

have made you're gonna have some

bureaucrat in Beijing you know doing a

scientific development process on his

abacus telling us okay this is this is

the this is the goal we need to produce

this many of these and this many of

these and this many of these and oh and

then there's another segment of the

government that's reviewing the people

in other places and saying oh that guy

you know he forgot to you know do this

and he didn't do that so we're gonna

lower his score and he can't travel

anymore or his kid can't get into this

university or he can't get this kind of

you know goat cheese at this store

because you know he's had too much in

the last three months

so this is the kind of

it sounds crazy but this is the way they

want to control things a social credit

system the social credit system I mean

you can just imagine that being exported

even though they deny that they want to

export it it seems pretty clear that if

you're going to expand your belt and

Road and have all this control

everywhere that you're not going to you

your system can't work you know they

talk about the they're you know they're

pushing forward into AI and big data

they want to all this data to come in

well what for if it's not for only only

for market forces now it's going to be

more than that so what can the us do

about this well we first have to do what

I think this administration has done is

recognize that China is a strategic

competitor so we've said that the

national security strategy in the

national defense strategy and now we're

starting to have our senior leaders talk

about the difference between the United

States and China and PRC in terms of

their values and what we stand for an

individual liberty and freedom whereas

the Chinese Communist Party stands for

the Chinese Communist Party and so they

are that be-all end-all of everything

and we need to we need to tell the world

that there's a choice there now I know

that the administration some people have

said well we're not asking people to

make choices between us and the PRC and

that's a that's a fine thing I think

what we're doing is saying you have to

decide about the values though who you

want to be associated with and I think

that we have a long track record in

human history that our system of of

freedom is more attractive and more

appealing to people innately and it

gives people a better opportunity to

have a higher quality of life and more

satisfaction that message needs to be

continued on a defense security

standpoint we need to retool our

military to move it away from a focus on

the Middle East to a focus on you know

being able to keep the sea lanes open

and trade and economies going so as much

as people say you know the

administration is isolationist I don't

see that because they say they want to

build up the Navy

just in Simi Valley yesterday or the day

before the new National Security Adviser

O'Brien talked about that the

administration's commitment to getting

to a 350 ship Navy not in decades but

sooner than that so there's a desire by

the administration to build up the Navy

and there's only one reason for that and

the reason that we want a big Navy is to

ensure that the Chinese or then the the

Russians and the Soviet Navy don't

control these things and and put a

damper on international trade and

between these nations so I think we're

on the right track I just think it's

really hard to move the ship of state

and we have a lot of commitments

globally and we've had a mindset since

Desert Storm since 1991 that has said

you know the Middle East is an

existential threat and I think that

things in the Middle East are dangerous

but I think that after 30 years and the

infrastructure that we've established

with the homeland security and other

places it allowed us to say oK we've got

we've got a handle on the Middle East

and terrorism be much better than we did

before 9/11 but we don't have a handle

on right now is competing and being able

to deter Chinese aggression in the in

dope a calm arena and and and I I'm

concerned that if we don't address it

now we won't be able to address it when

that's concerns in the Mediterranean or

the South Atlantic well so what happens

in the next five or 10 years after this

administration well this is American

domestic politics I mean you need

sustainment of this view of if you you

know if you buy into this I mean I

recognize that many people may not but I

think a lot of obviously the

administration does and there seems to

be you hear reports about bipartisan

agreement on things like the Hongkong

act and in other things like the other

bill the Uighur bill yeah exactly so we

need to we need to capitalize on this

it's emerging bipartisan bipartisan

efforts towards China and it needs to be

sustained so you say a lot of these

designer nations they share the same

values as the United States but I mean

as you say values

don't pay the bills what what can be

done on the ground so I think the

administration is moving out in certain

areas and trying to incentivize you know

our commercial interest to to help in

these areas and they're you there

they've got a number of things that

they're working on but from my

perspective this is a big issue and all

these islands have similar problems in

terms of infrastructure and being able

to monitor their ease ease and to reap

the harvest of the resources that they

have whether in the water or on their

islands and they need help and what the

United States should do with I think for

other nations Australia New Zealand

Japan and Taiwan is to band together and

develop some kind of what I would term a

Marshall Plan find some you know person

I don't I don't know if it's preferably

a military person but maybe you need

somebody that's going to be able to lead

a large group like this but to have

these nations come together and do

something outside of their typical

bureaucratic morass and break above that

to say hey we're in a kind of a crisis

like we were in World War 2 where

Germany was devastated the Soviets were

pressing in and these people needed food

they needed sustenance they needed

infrastructure and George Marshall the

general the army developed a plan to

come in and help rescue them and some of

it was we brought in our own stuff in

our own food and things of that nature

but it was also coming in and helping

the German people just have the ability

to rise rise themselves up and rebuild

Germany the Germans did that okay we

could do a something similar in this

area here which would just moving in

that direction labeling it and moving in

that direction and combining the the

talents of our five nations you know

maybe the Japanese build harbors maybe

the the Australians take roads maybe the

you know the us does IT whatever it is

but something like that where we're all

kind of covering a wedge covering an

area that then could then show and

demonstrate not only to these I well

first to the

Islands that hey you know the Western

world is really here and they they're

doing it again like they did eighty

years ago they're coming to help us and

then we need to train them we don't just

need to give them fish we need to train

them to learn how to fish and that's

nothing new for me but you've heard that

and we should be doing that across all

these areas and then it also sends a

larger signal to the rest of Asia which

is to say hey you know America said

they're committed to the Pacific they

say they're a Pacific nation here

they're actually doing something and

it's helping people I think this is a

way to help answer that question about

why should I choose the PRC or why

should I choose the US why should I

choose the Chinese Communist Party or

why should I choose freedom so but this

is not an easy thing to do and the

bureaucracies in each of our governments

are very difficult because we have

established protocols and concerns and

you know there's concerns about well

we're not going to spend as much money

dollar for dollar against China we're

not going to compete in that arena and

I'm not suggesting that we compete

dollar for dollar what I'm suggesting is

we compete idea for idea innovation

versus some somebody in the Chinese

Communist Party with the schedule that's

figured out okay here's here's how we

can do this and we're gonna mandate it

down to them I think we can do this we

just need to say it's important so with

everything you're saying about China's

global ambitions doesn't this come from

Xi Jinping like he won't be in power

forever like maybe after Xi Jinping it

won't be as much of an issue yeah so I

think there's a school of thought inside

the China hands community that it's

focusing on G and kind of blaming G as

the cause root cause of what's going on

right now and that the belton Road in

this economic passages and the

militarization of the Chinese is all

because of G and what he's doing in

Jinzhong all these things that we track

that you track and your team but Maya my

my belief is in mine what I've seen from

the evidence is is that this blue

economic passages they predate G they go

back to I saw pictures on Chinese

warships from 2012 that

depicted a dragon said coming out of the

mainland of China with three arrows one

to the the polar area one into the South

China Sea into the Indian Ocean and one

into the South Pacific that was on a

Chinese worship in Cindy Sydney in 2012

okay that was to inspire Chinese sailors

to be pumped up about their mission okay

well those pictures were probably

developed in 2011 or 2010 you know well

before she's shipping was in power so my

my my belief is is that this is part of

the long trajectory that's unbroken

since Deng Zhang who gee and whoever's

next they're all marching towards to

return China to its rightful place in in

charge of the world so this isn't

cheating ping this is an existential

threat of the Chinese Communist Party

correct now she is you know chosen to

break with past practice of how you

expose yourself at least the Chinese

Communist Party being exposed for their

to her attentions so maybe he maybe he

stepped off too early we can debate that

but clearly he's not the only guy that's

doing this and when he goes away it's

not going to change that trajectory

they're still going to be intent upon

that so they haven't been deterred it's

the the real issue we've had 40 years of

engagement that has told them yeah we're

not gonna do anything so do whatever you

want that's got to change all right

thank you very much for joining me today

it's pleasure to have you on thanks

Chris

appreciate it

[Music]

[Music]

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