“Avoid strength and attack weakness” is the second principle of Chinese Strategist Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. It dictates the deployment of war-making resources towards the enemy’s weakest points, to shorten the path to victory and secure strategic aims.
In the four months since the COVID-19 crisis began wreaking havoc on Beijing’s traditional adversaries – specifically those that threaten its strategic and national interests in the Indo-Pacific region – China has expanded its military operations.
Since April, Chinese forces have killed two-dozen Indian soldiers and illegally annexed Indian territory in the Ladakh region on the India-China border, while Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines have accused China of using the pandemic to place its national flag on resource-rich territories in the South China Sea.
It has also threatened a military assault on Taiwan; carried out a cyber-attack on Australia’s critical infrastructure; and stripped Hong Kong of its semi-autonomous status, ending the territory’s governing policy of “one country, two systems” as its diplomats threaten retaliation and boycotts against countries that openly criticise this.
In short, the international community appears to have a China problem – and the system is blinking red.