Peace through victory - the American way.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

China's Emerging Symmetric Threat

The linked story from the inside pages of the newspaper describes China's strategy of developing a military force that focuses on the weaknesses in America's military. The analysis in the story focuses on China's threat to Taiwan rather than on China's strategy of becoming a global rather than simply a regional superpower. Here's an example:

A decade ago, U.S. military planners dismissed the threat of a Chinese attack against Taiwan as a 100-mile infantry swim. The Pentagon now believes China has purchased or built enough amphibious assault ships, submarines, fighter jets and short-range missiles to pose an immediate threat to Taiwan and to any U.S. force that might come to Taiwan's aid.

In the worst case in a Taiwan crisis, Pentagon officials say, any delay in U.S. aircraft carriers reaching the island would mean that the United States would initially depend on fighter jets and bombers based on Guam and Okinawa, while Chinese forces could use their amphibious ships to go back and forth across the narrow Taiwan Strait.

Some U.S. military analysts believe China could defeat Taiwan before U.S. forces could arrive at the scene, forcing a political decision about how to react.

Even the most hawkish officials at the Pentagon do not believe China is preparing for an imminent invasion of Taiwan. Nor do analysts believe China is any match for the U.S. military.

The last two lines are bothersome. First, China doesn't need to be an imminent threat to Taiwan to be a threat that needs addressing. China is building its military for conflict with the U.S. specifically. The U.S. is going through a force transformation to concentrate on asymmetric threats from terrorists and failed states. The U.S. is even considering reducing its Navy. In contrast, China is gearing up to be a symmetric threat to the U.S. Moreover, China doesn't need to be "any match for the U.S. military." All it needs is to be enough of a match that the U.S. won't fight because the costs are too high. At the rate they're going that shouldn't be too difficult for them to achieve.




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