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    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    China Increases Military Threat Profile

    The Chinese military has, according to Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright "undertaken what we would call a very disciplined and comprehensive continuum of capability against ... our space capabilities,"(1)

    Senator Bill Nelson of Florida is on the record saying "that China is expected to have enough ASAT [anti-satellite] weapons by 2010 to 'basically knock out most of our satellites in low-earth orbit.'"(2)

    As if the new threat to our satellites isn't enough, Beijing is beginning to challenge the U.S. navy.

    Dozens of hunter-killers [submarines], armed with missiles and intelligence-gathering equipment, are being built, fanning fears of potential conflict in a volatile corner of the world and threatening to alter the global balance of military power. . . China and India - the two emergent superpowers of the Asia-Pacific region - are now planning a new generation of nuclear-powered boats that, in China's case, could fire nuclear missiles capable of hitting the US mainland.(3)

    Make no mistake, China is a military threat to the United States, and its history of aggressive acts toward other powers(4) make this even more obvious.
    The potential for conflict became a reality last October. The USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, at 82,000 tons, is the embodiment of US naval superiority in the Pacific, which has gone unchallenged since the Battle of Midway in 1942.

    Supported by an attack submarine and anti-submarine helicopters, it was conducting routine exercises around the island of Okinawa when its crew was startled - and embarrassed - by the sudden appearance of a Chinese Song-class submarine.

    The boat, apparently practising anti-carrier warfare, had gone undetected until it surfaced five miles away - putting the American vessel within range of its Russian-made, wake-homing torpedoes and anti-ship cruise missiles.(5)

    Since 1996, China's leaders have increased investment "in weapons to boost its naval power. President Hu Jintao told Communist Party delegates last year he wants a navy prepared "at any time" for military action [against the United States]."(6)

    With our military tied up in numerous overseas operations we would be extremely vulnerable to an attack by China. And such an attack could easily come given the United States' promise to defend Taiwan from invasion and China's promise to conquer Taiwan through military invasion if necessary.(7)


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    (1) Bill Gertz. "China has gained and tested array of space weapons," The Washington Times, 2007 March 30, para. 2, http://washingtontimes.com/national/20070329-114710-9929r.htm.
    (2) Ibid., para. 6.
    (3) Tim Shipman and Chad Bouchard. "China is accused of fuelling Pacific arms race," The Telegraph, 2007 January 04, paras. 2 & 4 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/01/warms01.xml.
    (4) In 2004, China violated Japan's sovereignty when one of their nuclear submarines entered Japanese waters and remained there for two hours. J. Sean Curtin. "Submarine puts Japan-China ties into a dive," Asia Times Online, 2004 November 17, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/FK17Dh01.html.
    (5) Shipman and Bouchard, paras. 10-12.
    (6)Ibid., para. 23
    (7) "Chinese military to crush any attempt to split Taiwan from China: white paper," People's Daily Online, 2004 December 27, http://english.people.com.cn/200412/27/eng20041227_168785.html.


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    6 Comments:
    Blogger BadTux said...

    China's current defensive posture is, well, defensive -- none of their current weapons other than their few dozen ICBM's are much use for offensive purposes. The Song class diesel-electric boats, for example, while quite stealthy in electric mode (this is not the first time U.S. forces have been embarrased to have one pop up in the middle of their exercises), does not have a particularly long range and as far as we know do not have the ability to be refueled at sea, meaning that they are primarily of use for coastal defense. China does not possess any heavy bombers with intercontinental range and as far as we know has no plans to acquire any. The majority of their air force is comprised largely of short-ranged MiG-21 fighters and indigenenous variants thereof which are useless for offensive operations at any significant distance beyond their border. Their Navy is comprised of coastal defense destroyers and has no ability to sustain operations beyond a few hundred miles of China's coast, lacking tankers and support ships necessary for such purpose. Their Army is large but possesses no useful tanks (just obsolete clones of old Stalin-era Soviet tanks) which are the offensive weapon of modern armies, Chinese investment at the moment is going into producing anti-tank weapons capable of defending against invading M1 tanks. Etc.

    In the long term, China's military aspirations are something to worry about. As they develop their industrial skills by selling cheap junk to Americans, they also develop the ability to design and build modern weapons. Short term... no. China's current military posture would be hard-pressed to defend the Chinese mainland against any modern adversary, and would successfully do so only because China possesses the advantage of scale (i.e., they have so many of these short-ranged obsolete weapons and so much population base to draw upon, that any attacking military would run out of bullets and anti-aircraft missiles before killing them all).

    Even their long-term goal of invading and forcibly re-uniting Taiwan is at least a decade away. Taiwan is defended by modern F-16 fighter jets, the best fighter jet in the world, as well as their own indigeneously-produced fighter jet which is roughly equivalent to the F-16 and Mirage 2000 fighter jets which are only slightly less so. China's MiG-21 jets cannot reach Taiwan with any useful military payload, and they have only a handful of Su-30 fighter jets purchased from Russia that are anywhere near modern enough to take on a F-16 (and I would still lay my bet on the F-16). Any invasion fleet of Chinese trawlers would swiftly end up at the bottom of the sea without any U.S. intervention at all.

    In short, China's threat to America for at least the next decade is economic, not military. For the moment their biggest military threat is their ability to provide massive amounts of cheap weaponry to asymmetrical warfare organizations in countries such as Iraq and Lebanon and to potential adversary states such as Iran, rather than any direct military threat presented by their own military forces.

    4/06/2007 11:47 AM  
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    Blogger BadTux said...

    PS - even their new ability to take out satellites is defensive in purpose. Taking out the GPS satellites would also take out American GPS-guided "smart weapons" such as Tomahawk cruise missiles (which are significantly less accurate in terrain-following mode -- e.g., during the 1st Gulf War, before being modified to use GPS, roughly half the Tomahawks fired from Naval vessels in the Red Sea ended up actually crashing into our allies Saudi Arabia and Jordan rather than making it from the missile cruisers in the Red Sea across the Arabian Peninsula into Iraq!).

    4/06/2007 11:51 AM  
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    Blogger The Sovereign Editor said...

    Thanks for the information, BT. As always, it's appreciated.

    even their new ability to take out satellites is defensive in purpose.

    I quite agree, and if it were, say, Canada or even India who were developing such technology, I wouldn't worry. But the fact is that China has a history of invading and taking over neighboring countries (Tibet, comes to mind).

    China also has the ability to do a lot of damage to us economically by divesting itself of its dollar holdings.

    4/08/2007 11:06 AM  
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    Blogger BadTux said...

    Historically speaking, Tibet has been part of China since the 18th century, despite being granted a large amount of autonomy all the way until the lamas rebelled in 1959 and were suppressed. The economic and social conditions within Tibet at the time the Chinese army invaded were horrific. The Bhuddist lamasaries were consuming over 50% of the Gross Domestic Product of the country despite comprising less than 10% of the population, and those who produced goods and services were serfs, slaves to the lamas, taxed to the point where they were literally starving to death. The monastic militias were constantly putting down uprisings against the rule of the lamas. There is a reason why, when the Chinese invaded, the 90% of the population that was not in the lamasaries sat out the conflict rather than fighting against the Chinese. Frankly, at that point they didn't see any difference between rule by the lamas and rule by the Communists. Either one would take everything they had, using ideology to excuse it.

    In short, I would not count Tibet as a victim of Chinese expansionism. The Tibetan "state", such as it existed, was based upon slavery of the majority by a priviliged minority and was in the midst of economic free-fall and social turmoil as the serfs rebelled almost continually against the rule of the lamas. The reason the Chinese could march in so easily was because the Tibetan "military", such as it was, was lightly armed and oriented around maintaining control of serfs, not around fighting off invaders. Tibet's terrain is similar to Afghanistan's and detirmined warfare by the entire population against the invading Chinese troops could have easily fought them off... but one problem with making 90% of your population into slaves is that slaves don't fight for their masters, and indeed the majority of your military power must be dedicated to preventing slave uprisings. Thus despite concerted CIA efforts, there was never any significant Tibetan resistance movement, the monastic militias were easily dispersed, and the lamas fled
    the country and began the very successful propaganda campaign that transformed pre-invasion Tibet from a brutal slave state under the rule of the lamas to an idyllic Shangri-la in the public mind (indeed, it is a matter of public record that the Dalai Lama never even uttered the word "democracy" in public until 1965 -- over 6 years after his dictatorship in Tibet was ended by Chinese troops).

    Which is not to say that China is a great ruler or anything like that. Just saying that Chinese control of Tibet is not a case of Chinese aggression against a peaceful neighbor, but, rather, Chinese intervention in a traditionally Chinese province after it disintegrated into a failed state. Modern-day China has no history of invading and taking over other states. This is not to say that they are all peace and roses and stuff, they are a brutal slave state. But they appear to be interested in war via other means (economic) at the moment, as they attempt to bring a billion plus people into the modern era and build economic muscle needed to build and sustain a modern war machine.

    4/10/2007 6:47 PM  
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    Blogger The Sovereign Editor said...

    Modern-day China has no history of invading and taking over other states.

    I'll pass that along to my Taiwanese friends. I'm sure it will make them feel better.

    4/13/2007 8:26 PM  
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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The US has been in armed military conflict or war somewhere in the world constantly the last 100 years, with the exception of 3-4 years.

    I have a suggestion:

    How about we politically awaken the people of both the US and China, so peace loving people can rule their own countries instead of being controlled by a small powerful group of criminal bankers and weapons manufacturers.

    9/26/2009 7:21 AM  
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