[News Today] Five Shades of Chinese Gray Zone Strategy
Military Update News : Five Shades of Chinese Gray-Zone Strategy
In short, smile diplomacy constituted an effort to brand China as a uniquely trustworthy great power—and mute resistance to its maritime rise. Until the late 2000s, when China turned more assertive, regional audiences were by and large receptive to this soothing message.
Third, gray-zone tactics tended in a darker, more coercive direction after Beijing unveiled the nine-dash line in 2009. Zheng He found himself summarily jettisoned in favor of what we dubbed small-stick diplomacy. Rather than flourish the big stick of naval power, that is, CCP leaders unlimbered the small stick of maritime law enforcement coupled with militiamen embedded within the fishing fleet. Small-stick diplomacy represented a masterful gray-zone strategy. The small stick was big enough to cow Asian neighbors whose navies barely rated as coast guards, but it was too small to goad the United States into sending its navy to defend allies and friends.
Routine harassment of Asian coastal states projected the image that China’s coast guard and maritime enforcement services were simply policing waters that had belonged to China since remote antiquity. It was an effort to quash lawbreakers trespassing on Chinese territory. Small-stick diplomacy, in short, comprised a gray-zone strategy vis-à-vis the U-S Navy but exhibited a dark, coercive hue toward Asian claimants. And that dualism suited Beijing just fine.
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