A new Pentagon report indicates China’s sustained military investments are destabilizing and exposes the Marxist giant’s global ambitions. The free world had better wake up to the security threat posed by this hegemonic menace.
Last week the Pentagon issued its annual report to Congress, which warns, “China’s rise as a major international actor is likely to stand out as a defining feature of the strategic landscape of the early 21st century.”
But the report “mischaracterizes and minimizes that threat,” according to Steve Mosher, a social scientist who worked in China and is author of numerous books on the country. The report “does a disservice to the truth,” Mosher said.
The truth about China’s emerging global threat becomes obvious when Beijing’s intentions, behavior and military modernization are properly exposed.
First, China’s intentions are global and offensive. Constantine Menges wrote in China: The Gathering Threat, “In the traditional Chinese view, the world needs a hegemon—or dominant state—to prevent disorder. The Communist Chinese regime believes China should be that hegemon.”
That view was echoed in 2010 by Liu Mingfu, a Chinese senior colonel and author of The China Dream. Liu said “China’s big goal in the 21st century is to become world No. 1, the top power,” Reuters reported. The Pentagon’s report stops short of that forecast but admits the regime “anticipates becoming a world-class economic and military power by 2050.”
China’s latest defense White Paper provides evidence of its global ambitions. The paper, according to the Pentagon report, introduces the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) to new global missions intended to grow China’s influence, such as international peacekeeping efforts, counter-piracy operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
These other-than-war operations are made possible by China’s new investments in large amphibious ships, a hospital ship, long-range transport aircraft and improved logistics. Such assets extend China’s global influence and provide the PLA important expeditionary know-how and capabilities for future operations.
China’s global ambitions are also evidenced by its increased liaison with foreign militaries and increased joint exercises. Last year, China expanded relations to 150 different militaries, which reflects an effort to collect information and build partnerships.
Beijing’s foreign outreach includes more joint exercises. In 2010, the PLA participated in 32 joint exercises—up from eight in 2009—to increase its influence, enhance ties with partner states, and provide opportunities to improve capabilities and gain operational insights from more advanced militaries.
China’s White Paper also announces the regime’s “active defense” security strategy, which pretends to focus on defense and promises to attack only if attacked. But Mosher says China’s use of the term “active defense” is just a euphemism for the PLA’s “determination to strike first in the event of a crisis.” He concludes “active defense” is “not defensive at all, but is a strategy of offense and expansion.”
Second, China’s behavior has become aggressive, and given its global ambitions, we can expect more bullying across all domains—land, sea, air, space and cyberspace.
China is aggressive with Taiwan, a breakaway Chinese democratic republic. Beijing intends to deter Taiwan independence through intimidation such as the massing of 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles opposite the island or through a threatened preemptive attack.
China aggressively responds to maritime boundary disputes with Japan over the East China Sea and numerous countries in the South China Sea. Beijing claims both seas, and since 2005 it has harassed foreign vessels, including American ships using those seaways.
Beijing is very aggressive in cyberspace. In 2010, American and ally computer systems were the target of many intrusions that appeared to originate in China, according to the Pentagon. Those breaches were aimed at stealing military-related data and the PLA’s cyber units are prepared to “constrain an adversary’s actions” and “serve as a force multiplier.”
Third, the Pentagon’s report provides sobering details regarding China’s technological gap-closing developments that are providing the regime the capacity to conduct high-intensity, global operations.
The report states China developed an anti-access ballistic missile to prevent American aircraft carriers from coming to Taiwan’s defense. The “carrier-killer” missile could also be used globally against America’s 11 carriers. The weapon is known as the DF-21D and has a range exceeding 940 miles.
China is developing a fighter aircraft that incorporates stealth attributes for long-range missions against well-protected targets—read American military facilities. A Chinese proto-type, the J-20, was tested earlier this year, but the Pentagon does not expect it to achieve “effective operational capability prior to 2018.” China has approximately 2,300 operational combat aircraft and another 1,450 older fighters, bombers and trainers.
The Communist regime is developing a global expeditionary capability. Specifically, Beijing is developing airborne early-warning and control system aircraft that, combined with aerial-refueling programs, will enable the regime to extend its naval air capabilities globally.
The PLA has numerous expeditionary forces, such as three airborne divisions armed with modern equipment. But China’s most important expeditionary tool is the aircraft carrier. Beijing recently sea-tested a refurbished Russian carrier, and the Pentagon reports, “China could begin construction of a fully indigenous carrier … which could achieve operational capability after 2015.”
The carrier is the latest addition to China’s modern 274-ship blue-water navy, which includes at least 60 submarines. China continues to produce a new class of global-capable nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines armed with the atomic-tipped JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile with an estimated range of 4,600 miles.
China deploys a growing satellite network. Last year, China conducted a “record” 15 space launches to expand its space-based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation and communications constellations. It is also weaponizing space.
In 2007, China successfully tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon against a weather satellite. It continues to develop and refine this system as well as other kinetic and directed-energy technologies for ASAT missions.
Finally, China is growing its strategic missile program backed by a developing anti-ballistic missile system. The Pentagon expects China to invest considerable resources to maintain its nuclear arsenal, which Beijing claims will never be used unless it is first attacked by atomic weapons.
But that view disputes a 2005 statement by Gen. Zhu Chenghu, a dean at China’s National Defense University, who said that if the U.S. used conventional arms on Chinese territory, “We will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” according to the New York Times.
The Pentagon reports China added 25 new multi-warhead road-mobile, solid propellant intercontinental-range ballistic missiles to its arsenal in 2010. Beijing’s growing nuclear arsenal is kept safe in deep underground bunkers connected by 3,000 miles of tunnels, a complex that until this report was kept secret.
The Pentagon also for the first time affirmed China is developing a nationwide missile defense system. Reportedly Beijing’s nonexplosive, high-speed interceptors can hit missiles at heights of up to 50 miles. “In January 2010, China successfully intercepted a ballistic missile at mid-course, using a ground-based missile,” according to the Pentagon.
China’s hegemonic intentions, aggressive behavior and sobering militarization demonstrate an emerging, dangerous new global threat. The U.S. and its allies must prevent China from becoming a global hegemon that would use that position to push its Marxist ideology.