21 December 2015
China’s land reclamation in the Spratly Islands has prompted critics to attack the Obama Administration for having been caught flat-footed yet again by cunning Chinese “salami-slicing” tactics. These critics fail to appreciate that the administration has actually been a more successful practitioner of those same tactics.
Earlier this year, the revelation that China’s land-reclamation project in the Spratly Islands had progressed far more rapidly than had been previously believed sparked considerable anxiety throughout East Asia.
These activities are only the latest manifestation of China’s frequent use in recent years of “salami tactics” to expand into disputed maritime territories in the East and South China seas. The term was coined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Shelling, who proposed that a single large-scale act of aggression against an adversary (i.e., stealing a salami sausage) is more likely to provoke a massive countervailing response than a series of small-scale aggressive actions (i.e., slicing the salami piece by piece).
… Harry H. Sa is a Research Analyst with the United States Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Evan N. Resnick is Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the US Programme at RSIS.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 23/12/2015