My biggest fear is the profits from this massive business interest so enmeshed inside the PRC is now starting to provide the resources (taxes and levies by buisnesses who are invested there, from products made there, etc) into a monstrous military genie that will never be able to be contained. The actions of the PRC government in recent weeks is indicative also that their -military- are the ones with the real power and calling the shots with matters. I detect a change of tone from before, much more marked. Before at least their civilian leadership played a more promient role discussing -something- when a crisis posed it's head. Now, we seem to get are Foreign Ministry statements now and then, but a boatlad of statements coming from PLA sources rattling their sabers. This part I find truly alarming. As if soe sort of quiet coup has happened inside the PRC's government that we may not be aware of. The miitary seems again to be the ones fully in charge, not Jiang Zemin. I dont know if people are catching 0on to this view or feeling yet. If it is true, and this "script" is their new "boilerplate" for handling this and future crises, then we will have a truly real replay of the ColdWar all over again. Then we wilkl have to get into the posturing of 'containment', a much larger military deterrence presence in the area, I could see us quite possibly re-opening facilities in the Philippines and/or expanding bases on Mainland Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Thailand and Guam.
It has the ingredients for quite a mess.
I see the potential for a pincer movement of some manner in how the PRC may 'play' the 'North Korea card' in all of this as well, they are their most influential ally and given the "sunshine" effort by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung to get closer to Kim Jong Il, I see something a bit too quiet (or is it the uncanny amount of it causing a sense of disquiet?) with the DPRK.
The ultimate nightmare scenario is the DPRK and the PRC work together to create some sort of sudden crisis there with an attack on South Korea catching everyone off guard and by complete surprise, this lulling of both sides seems to camouflage something else going on. Then with that operation underway, a quick all out effort by the PRC to attempt something with Taiwan.
The massive buildup of PRC military forces suggests this is precisely what they would like to have the capability of doing.
The PRC currently is lacking in amphibious assault ships to help facilitate that, but this too will change in their buildup. They also have a very potent missile attack force being established in Fujian provence across from Taiwan. At least two major facilities are already online, with a third soon to be completed.
If they really wanted to force it sooner, they could follow the April 9, 1940 battle model by which Nazi Germany invaded Norway. In that situation, the Germans cleverly used merchant ships disguised as Norwegian ones, filled to the brim with lightly mechanized SS and Army invasion troops (small, easy to carry and fast on the ground to cover more territory). They snuck in close enough to important bases the Norwegians had, and then had the German Navy and Luftwaffe move in and complete the job. the Germans lost a few heavier surface ships (a heavy cruiser and a light cruiser I think) in this invasion, but overall it was incredibly quick and caught people off guard there. The PRC has a vast merchant and fishing fleet they could use in a smilar manner. Several times in recent years, Taiwanese coast guard ships and ROC Navy vessels have chased away large formations of PRC flagged fishing trawlers and factory ships getting a little too close to Taiwan's shores, so I would bet the PLA has at least conceptually thought of this concept and saw the reaction it could bring and comparing the logistics and time needed to put it together.
If it were to happen, we'd be strapped two different ways from our major bases in the area and would be hard pressed in some regards.
The flashpoint in this is, if there are nonconventional weapons that may be a part of either plan in this, Or not. This forces the hand of which country capitulates first and/or which one gets hit first with them. Then factor in Japan, whom most certainly wont sit by and allow this to happen and destabilize their country either. This modernization of the PRC military has got to have some in the JASDF thinking about rewriting their national constitution so they can counter the threat they may indeed face as well.
..Just thinking out loud some of the strategic schemes of things that could be at play.
The PRC's government is -extremely smart and shrewd- in knowing how they build the course of getting what they want, they have very shrewdly discovered how to play the West for the economic machinery and facilitation of technology to be in hand to achieve their strategic ends. Economic means building military means.
What I am afraid of though are many cant grasp these ingredients and how they are actively combining the two together to build a war machine. I've been through one war and that one was one far too many. I know what they look like and how they start, I saw the beginning rumblings of Saddam's intentions in Kuwait as far back as April 1990 when he was conducting missile tests with kit-bashed Scud-B's and no one then was paying attention. The time between then and August 1st, 1990 was a constant string of political invective reported in the English daily "The Turkish Daily News". The bellicose language streaming out of Baghdad was thick, but no one was paying attention to it, it seemed. The next day came and we all found out the hard way how foolish we were.