U.S. May Exploit “Gray Zone” As Way To Dismantle Chinese Power

(JustPatriots.com)- The United States has shifted its focus in response to China’s “gray zone” strategy in the China seas. A new entry in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Maritime Counterinsurgency Project, titled “Winning without Gunsmoke in the South China Sea,” comes from Wendell Leimbach and Eric Duckworth of the Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office, according to a report from defense and national security website 19FortyFive.

Leimbach and Duckworth report that gaming and analysis have revealed that the U.S. and its allies do not have an effective way to deal with China’s strategy. They have either one of two options: remain idle and let China state ownership over the seas or open fire and risk the backlash over its aggression.

But the authors state that until recently, the U.S.’s efforts to find effective ways to navigate this obscure situation went under “nonlethal weapons.” Now, however, the Pentagon has redefined “capability,” to mean “the ability to complete a task or execute a course of action under specified conditions and level of performance.”

This suggests that the U.S. has shifted its focus from “widgets to tactics, operations, and strategy was a wise move,” according to the outlet.

Rather than remain idle and let China assert dominance over the South China Sea or use lethal force, the U.S. is making efforts to “deflate China’s abuses of Southeast Asian fishermen, coast guards, and navies without resort[ing] to violent force.”

This is a significant development because China reportedly prevents its neighbors from harvesting natural resources from their “exclusive economic zones” (EEZs) using their fishing fleets, maritime militia, and coast guard. An EEZ is an offshore preserve to be used by a coastal state only.

China reportedly disregards its neighbors’ EEZs by using nonmilitary sea services as a way to evade their rights under international law. While China refrains from using overt armed force, mariners reportedly use force in other nonviolent ways, such as flooding the zone and defying efforts to police regional waters. China also outnumbers South Asian coast guards and navies with a larger coast guard of their own.

By responding to these activities, the U.S. can remain just underneath the threshold of warfare, while waiting for China to make the first aggressive move and thereby expose the regime.