"In 1939 the Army of Imperial Japan invaded Mongolia. In what was probably history's first combined arms battle, the Japanese were eventually crushed by the Russians led by Georgy Zhukov, later a famous WWII general, and their Mongolian allies. Despite its obscurity, Nomonhan, or the Battle of Khalkin Gol, rates as one of history's most important battles. As a result of Japan's embarrassing defeat, the Army's enthusiasm for a Russian war cooled considerably, and advocates of a move south, into the rich colonies of the west, gained correspondingly. The long-term fruit of Nomonhan was the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor....."
"...In hindsight it should not be surprising that China underwent a similar evolution in its strategic thinking during the previous decade. What is surprising was that it took armed conflict to bring it about: it should have been obvious to military thinkers in China that defeating Russia on land would be easier and more remunerative, in terms of resources, than defeating the US and its allies at sea."
"....As Admiral Scott observed in an illuminating article in Parameters in July of 2015, on the one-year anniversary of the US-China naval clash in the South China Sea that fundamentally altered the balance of power in the East Asian littoral:
It is remarkable how so many individuals predicted that China, a nation whose last appearance as a seafaring power was centuries ago, would defeat the United States in a clash on the high seas. The reality was that China lacked a modern tradition of naval success and its efforts were, by and large, though technically ambitious, characterized by immaturity and in execution, by a lack of tactical imagination and a dependence on numbers. Just as at Khalkin Gol in 1939, hubris led in turn to an underestimation of the opponent rooted in institutionalized arrogance. From the startling dearth of American studies at Chinese colleges to overconfidence in China's vaunted missile apparatus....As Admiral Scott points out, the crushing defeat the Chinese suffered in the South China Sea Incident at the hands of the US navy and its Vietnamese and Indonesian allies was reminiscent of the destruction of the Japanese Army along the Manchurian border in 1939, culminating in the classic double envelopment of August, 1939, by Soviet mechanized forces. The PLAN suffered an immense lost of prestige, especially when the US publicly revealed the results of a daring raid on the Hainan submarine base with remote vehicles that caught a still-unknown number of submarines in port. The radiation leaking from their damaged reactors has rendered the base unusable and the government finally ordered it cemented over in 2016. It is telling that despite the passage of several years, no official memorial has been placed on the site and mentions of the loss are routinely removed from the internet. While the military as a whole also suffered a blow, the South China Sea Incident elevated the prestige of two groups within the CCP: voices that had called for restraint and saw the cries for military adventure and territorial expansion as suicidal folly, and voices that argued that the real goal should not be a few rocks in the South China Sea heavily defended by nations notoriously potent in war, but the vast resources of relatively lightly defended Russian Siberia. Over the next four years arguments for a war against Russia gained ground in CCP councils in Beijing..."
"....the ascendancy of the "northern strike" faction was assured in December of 2017 when the PLA announced cancellation of the navy's second carrier, along with its support ships, and increased investment in its mobile warfare forces as well as in upgrades of the PLA's notoriously spotty logistics infrastructure. While some observers in the west debated whether the target would be central or southeast Asia, with many plumping for a revenge attack on Vietnam, another strain of analysis argued that Beijing was eying Siberia...."
"...nor was Russia idle, but the many logistical problems it faced in mounting a defense of Siberia were insurmountable. Liddell-Hart once remarked of the Trans-Siberian Railway in the Russo-Japanese War that never in history had an army drawn breath through so long a windpipe. Apparently the Chinese had read Liddell-Hart in translation, for their early air and missile strikes not only knocked out that storied line, but all the rail and road lines into Siberia...."
"....with the Finnish-brokered truce, it appears that Chinese possession of the vital Central Siberian Plateau, a craton rich in mineral resources, is now a reality, though likely a temporary one. The few remaining ports in the Russian Far East, encircled and deprived of their home markets, will soon fall into Chinese hands. Repatriation of Russians in Siberia is now ongoing and Beijing is expected to bring in its own people to repopulate the area. It also appears that another war between the nuclear-armed powers is in the offing, for even the new Russian government can hardly tolerate a permanent Chinese presence in what has been undisputed Russian territory for three centuries...."
"... based on its holdings on the former Siberian coast, Beijing has also advanced claims to Russian holdings in the Kuriles currently disputed by Japan but occupied by Russians, creating yet another point of conflict between Beijing and Tokyo. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has rejected...."
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