31 Mar '16, 9pm

Pavlovian conditioning and 'correct thinking' on the South China Sea

Pavlovian conditioning and 'correct thinking' on the South China Sea

Even in scenarios short of war, I doubt that China really considers the deployment of military assets on these artificial islands a serious deterrent to freedom of navigation operations of the kind the US conducted last year and earlier this year. The US may become a little more cautious - it has never been reckless - but it will not stop operating in the SCS. Military assets that are unlikely to be used are at best a weak deterrent. If, for example, the People's Liberation Army sinks a US naval vessel or shoots down a US military aircraft, the US will certainly retaliate. This will confront the Chinese leadership with a very invidious choice: a token or ineffectual response will expose the hollowness of the CCP's legitimating narrative of having led the "Great Rejuvenation" of China, which will at least complicate, if not jeopardise, the CCP's hold on power; but escalatio...

Full article: http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/pavlovian-conditionin...

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