History of Chinese invasions

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star
History of Chinese invasions
In the South China Sea, China has taken over territories belonging to the Philippines and Vietnam. China has used superior military and naval forces to build artificial islands and prevent other countries from availing of fishing and economic rights.

I have again read that China has never invaded another country; and, it is therefore unlike other superpowers. Actually in its 2,000 years until the present, China has repeatedly tried to invade several nations and territories.

Korea has experienced several invasions by Chinese dynasties. At one time, under the Han Dynasty,  Northern Korea was a territory of China for 400 years. The last Chinese invasion was during the Korean War when China sent military forces to battle UN forces in the Korean peninsula. The result was a division of the peninsula into two nations – North Korea and South Korea. Until today, North Korea’s principal ally is still China. Because of repeated conquests and invasions, many Koreans still harbour resentments and suspicions regarding China’s intentions in the peninsula.

Vietnam and China have a long history of war between them. Various Chinese dynasties invaded Vietnam and ruled it for 1,000 years until the Vietnamese won a great victory in 938 in the Battle of Bach Dang. The Ming Dynasty again invaded and dominated Vietnam for close to 1,000 years until they were overthrown by Le Loi’s Lam Son uprising. In the late 1970s there was another invasion by China which suffered heavy military casualties which forced China to retreat.

There have been two military conflicts between India and China – the Sino Indian War and Nathu La and Cho La clashes. In both conflicts, China was the invader. Myanmar was invaded by the Ming dynasty; and, the Qing empire invaded then Burma four times but was repulsed each time.

In the years 1274 and 1281, China attempted to conquer Japan after conquering Korea. Both times, the Chinese invading fleets were heavily damaged by typhoons. Both times, the Chinese invaders were able to land on Japanese shores; but, were heavily defeated. Both invasions resulted in forced withdrawals by the Chinese invading forces.

Tibet is a special case. It emerged as the Tibetan Empire in the 7th century. In 1910, the Qing government invaded Tibet and established Chinese rule. After the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, the Qing Dynasty was toppled and Chinese troops left Tibet. The Dalai Lama was declared ruler of an independent Tibet .  In 1950, China incorporated Tibet as an autonomous region.  After the 1959 Tibetan Revolution, the Dalai Lama fled into exile and China has since maintained that Tibet is part of China.

In the South China Sea, China has taken over territories belonging to the Philippines and Vietnam. China has used superior military and naval forces to build artificial islands and prevent other countries from availing of fishing and economic rights.

All these historical events, therefore, are clear evidence that China has invaded several neighboring countries throughout its entire history. As a superpower, China has behaved and is behaving like all other superpowers – United States, Russia – in seeking territorial dominance over its neighbors.

According to a recent Stratfor analysis, China has been practicing a so-called “grey hull” strategy which involves employing paramilitary forces – including coast guard and fishing vessels – to enforce Beijing’s maritime interests. Over the past decade China has been able to establish advantageous positions in various disputed waters especially in the South China Sea.

In a recent April 28 report, however, Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral Richardson warned that the United States would treat China’s coast guard and maritime militia the same as it does China’s navy.  Richardson allegedly told the Financial Times that he made those remarks to his Chinese counterpart , Shen Jinlong, i n January – adding that the US Navy will respond to provocative acts by Chinese maritime militia in its continued effort to “conduct routine and lawful operations” around the world.

This threat of an American naval response would significantly raise the stakes for China by forcing Beijing to weigh the costs of potential heated conflicts with the US Navy. The prospect also increases the risk of confrontation between the two military powers, especially if  China chooses to respond by increasing its naval presence.

Taiwan is another potential flash point for the deteriorating military situation in East Asia. On the morning of March 31, two Chinese J-11 fighter jets crossed the cross strait median, the de facto border between China and Taiwan. When the Chinese fighters failed to change course after being hailed by the Taiwanese, they were met by Taiwanese interceptors. Even so, the Chinese jet fighters continued the incursion for about ten minutes. It was clear that the incursion was intentional.

The incursion was perceived to be an effort by Beijing to either test Taipei’s response, or to compel Taiwan to seek negotiations on avoiding escalations from such encounters. The United States has increased its support for Taiwan by increasing naval patrols in the Taiwan Strait and increased arms sales including 60 more modern F-16s. The Chinese have responded by increasing maritime patrols and exercises in and across the Taiwan Strait.

Thucydides Trap

Both China and the United States certainly do not want war. However, for those who believe in the theory of the Thucydides War, China and the United States are destined for war.

Graham Allison coined the term in 2017. The Thucydides Trap is a theory that war between a rising power and an established power is inevitable. Thucydides wrote: “ It was the rise of Athens and the fear this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” The two key drivers are “...the rising power’s growing entitlement, sense of its importance and demand for greater say and sway on one hand, and the fear, insecurity and determination to defend the status quo this engenders in the established power on the other.”

This theory alleges that war between China, the rising power, and the United States, the established power is destined. Both countries also have a long history of invading other countries.

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