The 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is over. It was a seminal event. It...
- ...firmly consolidated political power in the hands of a single man, Xi (no successor was named).
- ...clearly informed the world that China was now a global superpower (and the US was its only rival).
- ...would promote a world based on 'capitalism with Chinese characteristics' (a capitalism in a Leninist cage) in opposition to Western Democracy.
In short, China publicly announced that it is now in a 'cold economic war' with the US for the future of the world. In fact, China was so confident of its eventual victory, it clearly articulated the centerpiece of their effort to accomplish it: one belt one road
- It's an investment of $8 trillion (to start!) to build a global road, rail and maritime system that connects Asia, Africa, and South America (60 countries in total) to China.
- Transportation is a natural monopoly. Xi is trying to build a transportation and logistics monopoly on a global scale. It is an undertaking that isn't only backed by Xi personally, it is now enshrined in the Communist party constitution (!). In other words, it's going to be built.
- By the time the first round of investment is completed, a majority of the global economy will be connected via a Chinese owned, built and/or financed logistical system. As the buildout continued, the US would quickly find itself disconnected from the rest of the world and on its way to becoming a second tier economy.
Unfortunately, due to a self-inflicted wound (Trump is merely a symptom), the US couldn't be in a worse position to counter this effort. Decades of blind adherence to economic and social neoliberalism has shattered US cohesion along all three vectors: moral, mental, and physical. The result has been intractable economic stagnation, social turmoil, and political chaos. Even worse is on the horizon: the US is careening towards identity authoritarianism. In time, the US may be able to regain stability. However, it's unlikely the US will find a way through its internal crisis fast enough to mount a successful conventional counter to China's grand ambition. So what can be done, given the assumption the US will eventually recover, but not soon enough for conventional efforts?
One solution is to mount a rearguard action -- a method of delaying an advancing enemy when your forces are in retreat. An action that buys time for the US to regroup and regain cohesion. The US faced a similar situation re; the Soviet Union in '79 after the invasion of Afghanistan. In that case, support for Afghan insurgents kept the Soviets occupied while the US recovered (Carter, inflation, Iran, etc.). In this case, the rearguard action would be the disruption of China's plans for one belt one road. This could be done inexpensively and with very little manpower or visibility. How?
- Create groups that operate like global guerrillas. Small groups that operate independently w/o oversight. More letters of marque than special operations.
- In the short term, disrupt the Chinese construction effort. Double and treble construction costs by delaying timeliness and forcing increased security efforts. Drive up the costs of financing. Drive away subcontractors.
- Next, force the Chinese to physically and logically protect the entire system, from roads to ports to trains, from disruption. As my analysis of Lawrence of Arabia shows, it's more damaging to partially disrupt a system than to completely break it. Keep up the pressure -- with the ability of systems disruption to generate a million to one return on investment, this is sustainable.
Writing on a crisp fall day in New England
PS: Doesn't the US risk more from disruption than China? No. The US doesn't have a choice. If it doesn't act while this logistical monopoly is being built (when it is the most vulnerable to disruption), the US will cede global dominance to China so completely and the consequences to the US will be so negative, it may require a war to reverse.
PPS: It also may be useful to see this as a measured response to China's relentless attacks on mainland US computer systems over the last decade.