The Malacca Dilemma: Growing Chinese Military Power


The People’s Republic of China has risen over the past two decades to become the world’s largest economy, when measured by purchasing power parity. As Chinese global economic interests and influence have expanded so, too, has the size and capability of the Chinese military. In this week’s episode of Horns of a Dilemma, Thomas Shugart, adjunct senior fellow with the defense program at the Center for a New American Security, discusses the implications of growing Chinese military power. Shugart frames his discussion in terms of what he calls the “Malacca Dilemma”: Since much of Chinese trade and almost all Chinese energy imports must flow through strategic chokepoints controlled by the U.S. Navy or its allies and partners, Chinese leaders want to be able to protect their interests in these vital regions. But the same capabilities that allow them to protect their trading interests also allow them to threaten, intimidate, and coerce other regional countries, and may give Chinese communist leaders the tools needed to challenge or change the global order that has defined the region for decades. This talk was given at the University of Texas, Austin, and jointly sponsored by the Strauss Center and the Clements Center at the University of Texas, Austin.

Image:Baycrest, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons


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