02
May
08

One World, One Dream, One Gigantic Nuclear Sub Base

Last night on Chinese television, Allison and I saw clips of an enormous celebration at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, featuring singers, dancers, and none other than Jackie Chan. They weren’t celebrating the Olympics as such, but rather, the fact that it was a mere 100 days until the Olympics. Good lord, we thought. Did people in the US have this much hullabaloo on the 100th day before the Olympics in Atlanta, Utah or Los Angeles? Not that I recall. It really brought brought home that these games, for China, are primarily a matter of national prestige more than anything else. For all of the “One World, One Dream” talk, what was also striking was the nationalistic imagery of the Chinese flag and other national symbols. I can’t help but wonder how much the nationalistic iconography was amped up at the expense of international iconography as a direct result of China’s sudden defensiveness over Tibet, human rights, and other sore spots of international criticism.

All the more fitting it is, perhaps, that it’s just be revealed that the major increases in military spending by China may be going, in part, to a top-secret nuclear sub base on Hainan Island that’s just been revealed in international media by Jane’s Weekly and this article from the Daily Telegraph. Taiwan, you might want to take note of this news, if the massive array of missiles aimed your way across the Taiwan Straights weren’t enough. (Of course, it’s quite possible this news was intentionally leaked precisely to remind the newly-elected Kuomintang leadership in Taiwan of who’s boss in this region, and to keep them from getting any non-harmonious ideas.)

The Daily Telegraph also ran an analysis piece, that seems to back up my suspicions about this being a move against Taiwan, though they also point out that there’s also an implicit threat to the United States here, where Chinese leaders likely believe that a few nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier or two may deter American involvement in a conflict with Taiwan. While falling short of matching the American navy on a toe-to-toe basis, the government probably believes that the possibility that China could at least bloody the collective nose of America by sinking an American ship or two would be all that it would take to prevent any involvement. And then, there’s the issue of the Spratley Islands, a sparse island chain that China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan itself have feuded over for decades. If China wanted to show some muscle in the region, enough to intimidate its neighbors, this would be one great way to do it.

One world, one dream indeed.

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