Superpower conflict in Asia 1975 by the late, great Hubert Van Es.
In conversation with Toshi Yoshihara, Professor of Strategy and Policy, Asia-Pacific Studies, U.S. Naval War College.
YOSHIHARA:- China has undergone a transformation of its naval power and is now a much more capable naval force. It has grown very rapidly in the past few decades. One element is the growth of its surface fleet by investing in new class of surface combatants that will rival those of the U.S. and the Japan
HH:- What is Japan’s role?
YOSHIHARA:- Japan hosts a whole series of forward bases for the U.S. without which it cannot achieve its regional aims in the region. The formal U.S. Japan military alliance treaty raises a host of issues and everyone is looking at how U.S. responds to China’s provocation against Japan and using that a measure as to how committed the U.S. is to the security of the region.
HH:- Japan is also building up its military.
YOSHIHARA:- Japan is responding to China’s rise. Since 2010, it has engaged in submarine expansion, from 16 to 22 boats, and this is a substantial increase. It is engaging in selective modernisation of its surface fleet and other capabilities in direct response to China’s modernisation.
HH:- How does what you teach here impact on a commander taking critical decisions on the bridge of a warship?
YOSHIHARA:- Firstly, we teach what happens when there is a rising power comes up against an established status quo power and that fits into the rise of China and its challenge to the U.S.. Second, we highlight the problem of risk. How do naval commanders think about risk and how do they think about risking their fleet? And third, we use historical cases to talk about the logic of strategy. China’s anti-access capabilities are similar to those previous powers have developed, whether during Russo-Japanese War, World War Two, the Cold War. All of those players have at one-point thought of capabilities that are very similar to what China is doing in its own neighbourhood.
HH:- How do you see it unfolding in East Asia?
YOSHIHARA:- My reading of history makes me rather pessimistic about the future course of Sino-U.S. relations. If you look at past rising powers, it has tended to create the kind of security dilemmas we are seeing today and, in the past, it has been more likely than not that a rising power’s challenge to a status quo power has led to war. So, looking at history makes me much more pessimistic about the future of Asia.