Beginning to understand the Chinese mindset: A necessary exercise for our Chamorro Pacific Islander civilization


Our Chamorro Pacific Islander people have a real incentive to pay ongoing and close attention to the arms race taking place between the United States and China. Our island chain civilization is relatively close to China and its near seas region. Our island chain, more importantly, is located on the eastern portion of the Philippine Sea, which has become a regional center of gravity for naval training, operations and patrolling. The Americans, Asians, Europeans, Australians and Canadians are now fully present and visible in our region in ways never seen before. The Russians and Chinese are also ever present in the area.

As China, the United States, and other nations train for war, it is in our interest to take a couple of steps back and revisit fundamental aspects of the Chinese government and how it continues to think about and prepare for war. Our island chain, especially Guam, is already heavily militarized with some of America’s most unique units operating, homeporting, training and transiting to and from our island home. These kinds of activities make the Marianas a high priority potential military target for the Chinese government.

One way for our people to better understand the mindset of the Chinese Communist Party is to think longer term than what Americans usually view as long term. Two-, four-, or six-year increments down the road are not helpful frames for contemplating the future because they are all too short-term.

The nature of the governmental beast: America and China

For better or for worse, our existing insular governmental structures reflect American design to the core. We hold political elections every two years, some people win and some people get voted out of office. We tend to place too much focus on legislative issues, or real-time political nonsense that revolves around personality politics, while discounting the hard work performed by non-political types working for the government of Guam and/or the government of the CNMI.

China’s governmental structures constitute a different story altogether. China is a much older country than the United States because it has been around for thousands of years. The Chinese government is fundamentally different as well in terms of its overall organizational structure, its Communist Party doctrine, how it makes decisions, how it controls the broad Chinese population, and how it views time and space.

The American empire and its national government, by contrast, is a relatively new entity and new world power.

Time is everything and it is subjective

The Chinese think in terms of decades when it comes to achieving or realizing national strategic objectives. Fifty to 100 years in the future is not something that is unusual for Chinese governmental leaders when it comes to assigning timelines on long-term priorities.
The United States, by comparison, views the world using much shorter periods of time to judge progress made or plan for specific outcomes. Many long-term political objectives are framed using four- or five-year windows, reflecting how the American system of government works. The military buildup in Guam is unusual in the American experiment in terms of the number of years it has taken to move things along for the U.S. national government.

Taiwan remains the strategic prize for the Chinese government and they will wait all day and all night to achieve this long-term objective

The American and international media have generally reported on Taiwan and its relationship with the United States and/or with China as a medium-term prize. This kind of perspective may not be the most effective way for our western Pacific Islander civilization to baseline our collective interpretation and understanding of Taiwan. Instead, we should take a point of view that extends 75 years from today, thinking about how the Chinese government can and may go about incrementally bringing Taiwan closer and closer into its immediate political orbit.

China’s long view syncs up with its desire to outdo the United States when it comes to applying technological advancements in economics and toward winning future wars. 

The Chinese government has stated in its official documents that it takes a much longer perspective of international and regional affairs compared to the American empire. The Chinese government wants to eclipse the United States and lead the rest of the world through its economic prowess. It seeks to do this using a multitude of national tools such as providing international grant money, building out the Belt and Road Initiative, and investing cash directly in a variety of industries that will give China technological advantage over time. Part of this effort to become the undisputed world economic leader is through the employment of state-of-the-art transformative technology such as artificial intelligence, in ways that disadvantage the west and the United States over long periods of time.

When it comes to Guam, the Marianas and Micronesia, China remains deeply focused on delivering money to regional governments as one of several ways to build diplomatic and geographical based relationships with Pacific Island nations and civilizations. China remains focused as well on spying on all activities related to the American military.

Why it is so important for our Chamorro Pacific Islanders to learn as much as is possible about China

The Chinese government has the ability to start or respond to a nuclear attack and the Marianas Islands chain is a high value target because our home is relatively close to China and is highly militarized by the Pentagon. The Chinese government has the ability to take down all critical infrastructure nodes throughout the Marianas such as water, power, sewer, and information grids as one of several ways to neutralize America’s ability to conduct and wage war from the western Pacific.

The Chinese government is primarily interested in learning how it can successfully take down and/or prevent American submarines, bombers, missile defense weapons, and surface ships from possible use against the PLA(N) in times of war. The Chinese government is capable of damaging or destroying low-orbit earth satellites. Should American satellites be taken out, it could result in our nation’s military crippled in ways that we don’t want to think about. An inoperable GPS system, for example, may halt commercial and sea-based traffic into and out of our island chain. The list of nightmare scenarios goes on and on because of how much our island chain depends on space-based infrastructure systems that allow for us to go about our daily routines without giving much thought to just how dependent we are to modern-day technologies.

Rick Arriola Perez | Author
Rick Arriola Perez is a U.S. military veteran who has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, the Bank of Hawaii, and the government of Guam. He holds several degrees including ones from UCLA and the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Rick is passionate about national security and foreign affairs in the Pacific Asia region and runs a blogsite called Guam Affairs at guamaffairs.substack.com. For more information, contact Perez at rickp7839@gmail.com.

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