In his statement at the White House in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a commitment not to militarise the artificial islands China built in the South China Sea. Observers wondered how China defined the term ‘militarisation’. And it is this lack of clarity helping to fuel speculation over Beijing’s strategic ambitions.
The Trump administration appears eager to change its position frequently, keeping both friends and adversaries on their toes. The snag is that, at least for the moment, allies are more rattled than potential enemies.
A great deal of rhetoric is expended over China’s gigantic investment initiatives. Still, many of the economic projects are real, and Western governments will be well advised to understand their purpose.