sundaymorningstaple wrote:True, but when one considers the size of the Chinese coast guard vessels they are currently building (bigger than US Destroyers!) Who's to say. They won't care about Thailand's instability, they are figuring eventually after Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam (again), Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia will be next. The old communist domino theory that the US used for getting VN in the first place. So, instead of starting with land grabs, they are going for control of the waterways. Once they have that, short of a full fledged World War, they will be able to pick off the Asean countries in their good old time. Remember, they work slowly but insidisously.
If we are to apply the general strategy imperial China had often used in gaining control or influence on other states while avoiding conflicts whenever possible (minus the period when China was ruled by the Mongols) , you will understand why today's China spectrum wide approach consist of economy to global institutional changes are done in methodical and gradual manner.
Chinese thinks long term and has the patience to see through the eventual swing of the world order until the situation favors them. They aren't gonna compromise the current situation which they had benefited thus far.
If China had wanted to annex much of SEA, take full control of SCS and forced reunification with Taiwan, a nuclear capable PRC would have done that during the Cold War era allied with the then USSR, regardless of the consequence. But Beijing didn't.
Instead, we saw history-changing reforms, opening up of China, engaging the world, joining WTO and today working their way through UN systems and supporting existing international institutions. e.g. allowing their currency to be used internationally, creating new world banks and rekindling the pan-Euro-Asia physical trade routes that once made China a key player in world economy..
If China had been a little less patience and practices interventionism like the US had, she would have paid a far greater cost than the US had in Vietnam, and lately in Iraq.
The old saying from Sun Tzu still holds true today -
"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill.
To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.