In response to an FT Big Read by Charles Clover on 8th April 2015, entitled 'China: Projections of power'
"Is China militarising? Or simply building up its military? The distinction is more than semantic. Militarising is what countries do when they intend to use their military, and is measured not just in ships and tanks, but also in behaviour"
Expanding its military is also what a country does if it perceives a potential threat towards its strategic interests, interests which China has not attempted to keep a secret:
China needs to feed the stomachs and the emerging aspirations of a massive population. To do this it needs to grow, to grow it needs to manufacture and to export, to do that it needs to import huge quantities of energy, food and commodities. If Chinese leadership do not fulfil this strategy China will not just stagnate - there will be blood on the streets. China has had a long history of uprisings by dissatisfied populations, and her current leadership do not want to go the same way.
This strategy has explained China's trade deals with Africa and South America, it explains her growing relationship with Russia, it explains the need to defend its trade routes and its sea lanes. It also explains China's development of its own version of SWIFT, its quiet and yet relentless accumulation of gold over the past decade, and its creation of the AIIG. China not only needs to grow, she needs to be independent of the US, or indeed anyone else who MIGHT try to stop her achieving this growth.
Under these circumstances, and if the dominant super-power announced a pivot to Asia, what would any emerging power do? Say 'come on down' we'll just provide a few ports for you? What do your sailors like to drink? No - any emerging power would develop its military and send out a message that said - 'We're here, there's a lot of us, and we've got all the latest kit'
That said, Chinese leadership thinks much further ahead than our western politicians, who are obsessed with short term election cycles. Pivot to Asia or no pivot to Asia, my guess is that the build-up and increased international presence of the Chinese military is not a new idea - it has been on the cards for a long time. The best thing we can do is to talk and to trade and to keep the neocons and the blow hards as far away from the Chinese as possible.