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One Reporter's Opinion: The Power of the Seas

Friday, 06 June 2003 12:00 AM

Was it Sir Walter Raleigh who said, "Whosoever commands the sea commands the trade - whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world and consequently the world itself." And Aristotle, commenting on the importance of maritime trade, said, "It is obviously better both for insuring an abundance of necessities and for defensive reasons that the state and its territories should have access to the sea."

The Communist Chinese have followed Sir Walter and Aristotle to the letter.

In February 2003 the American Defense Council released a geopolitical and strategic assessment of China's global maritime power. The Council has identified 10 strategic global shipping choke points that make up the United States oil and trade lifelines. They note that in the last decade, China has succeeded in building, managing or operating strategic ports that are adjacent to or, as in the case of the Panama Canal, at the entrance and exit of 7 of the 10 global shipping choke points.

In 2001 China spent more than one billion dollars in port acquisition and port infrastructure construction. Most alarming is the speed and nature of the Chinese Communist Party's execution of its plan to control these critical global shipping choke points.

Let's review the 10 main shipping lanes - the key global shipping choke points. They are:

The Council warns us again and again of the importance of controlling these choke points - that when China's strategic interests warrant closing down key shipping lanes, they will do so. Example: The Chinese shut down the Taiwan Straits in 1996 when launching missiles into those shipping lanes.

Have we forgotten that 80% of global trade moves by sea and that the U.S. moves 95% of its foreign trade by weight via the world's oceans. It is obvious why China has moved so quickly to establish these ports around the world.

China has dramatically increased the number of its cargo ships as well as its expertise in port construction and design, including the manufacture and design of cargo cranes. The impact of Communist China's maritime expansion and control of the sea-lanes should be frighteningly obvious in the long run.

In the Cox Report issued by Congress, it stated that the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) is actually an arm of the Chinese military establishment.** [COSCO is a large conglomerate making international shipping as its core business and encompassing shipping agency, forwarding, air freight forwarding, terminals and warehousing, inland haulage, trade, industry, financial affairs, insurance, real estate, tourism, contract employment and medium-level and higher education, It is one of the 56 big Group of enterprises approved by the State.]

We, at the same time, have allowed our marine fleet to degrade to the point that we must subsidize foreigners to allow the U.S. military access to cargo ships in a time of crisis.

The American Defense Council has performed a praiseworthy task in outlining China's maritime power projection, and I believe every Senator and Congressperson should study it carefully. It may well be the outline of America's future well being.

The Chinese have an old expression: all power comes from the mouth of the cannon. Might we add that in the present-day struggle, power also comes from domination of the seas.


American Defense Council report - "China's Growing Maritime Power--Geopolitical Strategic Assessment" - http://www.americandefensecouncil.com/maritimerepfin.pdf

The Influence of Sea Power Throughout History by Alfred Thayer Mahan, 1890 - http://www.au.af.mil/au/aul/bibs/great/mahan.htm


Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns With The People's Republic of China, Jan. 3, 1999



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Was it Sir Walter Raleigh who said, "Whosoever commands the sea commands the trade - whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world and consequently the world itself."And Aristotle, commenting on the importance of maritime trade, said, "It is...
Friday, 06 June 2003 12:00 AM
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