Sun Tzu is a fascinating character.
He was a Chinese general – a military strategist whose influence has extended from the 5th century BC to the present day. Every good soldier has either heard of his work or has studied his strategies and military wisdom in depth.
He is best known for his work, ‘Art of War.’ It contains 13 chapters with each dedicated to various aspects of warfare.
The Art of War is not only a manual for warfare. It has become an important handbook for strategic thinkers in business. This is where closer understanding of Sun Tzu’s work is crucial.
A relatively large number of Papua New Guinean’s note that China’s influence in the country has grown significantly in the last 20 years. Between 2006 and 2013, China spent USD440.30 million in aid to Papua New Guinea. It is ranked as the second largest aid contributor to Papua New Guinea.
That is just one part of China’s influence. The political correct term to use is ‘aid.’ Some will call it ‘control and influence.’ Call it what you will.
Coming back to Sun Tzu, Chapter 3 has long been of personal interest to me.
Sun Tzu said: ‘In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.’
Although it is important, don’t get caught up with the military language.
What Sun Tzu meant was: “…It is better to weaken and acquire competitors or go around them, rather than waging expensive competitive battles. When you are seen as superior, you may be able to induce their better people to join you, weakening them further.”
How do you take a country whole in peacetime?
China wields the most potent weapon of business: Money. With money comes power and influence. With money, another country can a nation whole and intact, exerting its superiority without an expensive, competitive military effort.
Sun Tzu, also talks at length about focusing effort on the easiest targets instead of laying siege to well defended strongholds. He talks about studying enemies (competitors) and knowing their strategies before seeking to take over.
Sun Tzu said: “The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more.”
Chinese economic power in Papua New Guinea is concentrated on our areas of most need like transport infrastructure and projects that, from the outset, are symbols of political power. They are our weakest points – our needs and our Papua New Guinean egos.
We are, as a country and an economy, an easy target to conquer and acquire whole and intact. Again, in business, it is easier to weaken and acquire than to wage expensive competitive battles.
If taking a country whole is relatively easy, how about taking an entire region of small island countries whole and intact.
Of course, this blog post can be debated. 😀