SURPRISE, SURPRISEItem 1:

The chief of US Fleet Forces Command has told US Congress that Beijing has built up enough military infrastructure in the South China Sea to completely control the disputed waterway.

“Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania,” Admiral Philip S. Davidson wrote.

“The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge US presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants.

“In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Item 2:

A massive Chinese infrastructure program that Beijing says is aimed at promoting global trade and economic growth is actually intended to expand the country’s political influence and military presence, according to a new report.

The report by the US-based research group C4ADS questions China’s portrayal of the trillion-dollar program, called the “Belt and Road Initiative,” as strictly meant to promote economic development.

President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy program, it is working to reinforce China’s links to Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa through networks of roads, ports, railways, power plants and other infrastructure projects.

C4ADS, a nonprofit research institute that specialises in data analysis and security, examined official Chinese policy documents and unofficial reports by Chinese analysts to analyse the intentions of Beijing’s ambitious economic development program, which seeks to connect 65 per cent of the world’s population in more than 60 countries.

Chinese officials say the initiative, also known as a modern “Silk Road” harkening back to maritime and land-based trade routes of centuries past, is driven by commercial considerations.

They have rejected assertions that it is also meant to expand Beijing’s global influence.

It will no doubt come as a shock to many that an illiberal dictatorship, which espouses alternative visions of political, economic and social order and openly proclaims its superpower ambitions, will act in ways that are inimical to others, in particular those it considers its main ideological and geopolitical competitors.

China’s Marketist-Leninist rulers are not our friends.

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