In this modern age, the bigger and more sophisticated a country becomes, the more vulnerable it is to fall in a modern war. The more modern a fleet or an army becomes, the more dependent it is in technology. To defeat a bigger and more modernized army by a small army, you need three things: First, create, build and maintain a tenacious group of black hats (hackers). Second, a dedicated team of professional revolutionaries who will conduct debilitating strikes against industries and critical infrastructures through armed attacks and third, a propaganda team ready to launch a massive disinformation campaign against the enemy.
What am I saying here? I am describing what I call the "Doctrine of the Mean."
In nature, what is more lethal than a bacteria who can spread and cause massive extinctions. In the history of this world, there were as many as six massive extinctions which happened, two of them caused by bacteria.
In warfare, the bigger powers, the United States and Russia have already experienced defeats caused by small armies. In the seventies, you have the Vietnamese People's Liberation Army who made a mockery of the sophisticated weaponry and tactics of the US military. After Vietnam, the US also suffered humiliating defeats in Somalia, Afghanistan and even now, in Iraq. These small countries have stood out valiantly against a Big Rogue with a brutal techno stick. Through the doctrine of the mean, these small armies made mince meat out of big ones.
Russia also got humiliated by horse-riding Afghans. The Russians have their tanks, the Afghans their camels. Ranged against each other, the Russians lost. It was sheer will that made the Afghans win the war, only to lose it later to the United States military. Right now however, the Afghans are winning the war, thanks to urban guerilla tactics the US described as terrorism.
When big armies get brutalized by small ones, the big ones call those strikes, "terrorism". When big armies kill small ones, they call it "liberation."
In the case of China, it is flexing its muscles because it wants to hide what the world does not know--China's problem in succession.
The old guards are slowly fading out of the picture. A new group of former cadres are ascending the leadership. This group is more ideologically astute than the former ones. This group is divided into two: those who are staunchly Socialist and those who accept the possibility of Socialism thriving in a capitalist system.
Both groups are accusing each other of corruption. Fact is, China is actually being destroyed internally. Because of its entry into the capitalist game, China has allowed itself to be corrupted. This corruption has seeped into the very structural core of the Party. Many party members became wealthy. Socialist ethic has been replaced by capitalist ideals.
Those who handle enterprises that became global are dictating the terms of the game within the party. However, there are still conservative elements within the Chinese state who are wary on the path the country is taking.
This conservatives know how capitalism works. They know that the more involved they are in this game, the more dependent they are in the network. Wealth in capitalism is created when you extend yourself. The more you extend yourself in the network, the richer you become and the more dependent you are. The more you are linked within these interconnections, the lesser power you hold since thousands now dictate where you go and what direction to take.
In China's case, it is dependent on foreign capital. A war will cripple its industries. Chinese monies are parked in several capitalist countries and a war such as a war for Spratlys will harm Chinese interests more than it gains in the process.
A shooting war between China and the Philippines will inevitably drag the United States into the fray. The Mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States is still in effect. A US intervention in a war will benefit the US more than China.
China must realize that it benefits more in peacetime than in war. This is not the imperialist age anymore where territories are vital possessions to create wealth. Wealth is created differently in this day and age and creation of it depends largely on stability rather destabilization.
A destabilized China will create tensions within its economic structure. Foreign investments will surely be shaken by any unfavorable military action by China. Imagine the monumental disruption a war between China and the United States will create. This benefits the US war economy and surely, a Chinese economy suffers more in war rather than in peacetime.
Why? China's economy depends on manufacturing. A war will disrupt this. Yes, China can very well turn its economy into a war-oriented one, similar to the United States. However, unlike the US however, China is simply not yet ready to turn their plough-shares into arms. Besides, the very nature of the Chinese economy contradicts a war. Most of the economy are dependent on foreign capital. A capital flight will surely happen once China enters into a foolish war like Spratlys.
Even without the intervention of the US, China still stands to lose more in an attack against the Philippines. In the eyes of the world, Scarborough shoal is more a Philippine territory than Chinese due to its proximity to Zambales, a town in the Northern part of the Philippines. In a war of perception, China loses.
This will also be perceived as China employing bullying tactics against a hapless nation, such as the Philippines. This will disrupt regional peace and plunge the entire region into a war. A war in the Pacific harms capitalism in this region. Investments will shift from Asia to Europe.
Besides, China really stands to lose even in an actual war against Philippine forces. One, the archipelagic nature of the country benefits the Philippines rather than an invader. Even if China occupies the capital, the Philippine government will just shift its center of power to any place in the archipelago. A brutal urban guerilla warfare will decimate a one million man army. It will be protracted but in the end, a small dedicated and fiercely nationalist army will surely defeat even a big army such as the People's Liberation Army.
Besides, wars nowadays depend on technologies. When technology ends, war shifts from modern to barbaric. The Philippine military is trained in all sorts of scenarios, from modern to barbaric. Are Chinese soldiers ready to die? Time and again, Pinoys have shown extraordinary courage in times of great distress. Every Pinoy is a warrior. We may be equipped only by sticks and stones, but we have the intellect to turn these into missiles that win battles, and wars.