In order to combat China's rapid military modernization, which we have been documenting over and over and over for years, the Pentagon says it has developed a "global campaign" to take on Beijing, which it claims is "one of the central challenges" to national security.
"We have a global campaign plan for China. Each one of the combatant commanders addresses China in the context of that global campaign plan," said General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking to the House Armed Services Committee during a congressional hearing. The new strategy will fall under the coordinating authority of Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the US Pacific Command.
"But each of the combatant commanders has supporting plans in their respective areas of responsibilities that address specifically Chinese activity and capability in their areas," added Dunford.
Dunford made the comments in response to a question from Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), who noted China's regional expansion into the Indo Pacific region and elsewhere.
"Their activities are present (in) Africa, Europe, Latin America, et cetera. What efforts are you aware of being taken by each of the combatant commands in the different AORs (areas of responsibility) to counter the China challenge?" she asked Dunford, who described China as one of the central challenges to national security.
"China is very focused. They have multiple lanes of effort, from espionage, to the military to counter-intelligence, to propaganda arm, et cetera," Hartzler added, joined by several other lawmakers who expressed concern over the rise of China.
"China has made a clear commitment to meet US capability in artificial intelligence by 2020 and then exceed it by 2030," said Congressman Seth Wilbur Moulton.
Defense Secretary Mattis added to the discussion, noting that there are certain defensive technologies that he doesn't want to see in China's possession.
"I think you saw on the 5G effort here some weeks ago, that we move swiftly even in advance of what the process requires in order to make certain that we did not naively watch a business link up that was not in our best interest," he said. "But that was a one-shot effort. We need to look at the entire penetration of our society, and what we need to protect, and CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the US) is a key part of this."
"Every democratic nation right now, by the way, that we deal with from Germany to Australia, from Canada to the United Kingdom, they're all working this issue. And so this is not unique to us, but it's certainly one of our responsibilities," Mattis added.
China's Military Buildup
China's rapid military modernization is "remarkable," and is no longer merely "catching up" with the West, reported the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in their annual report on global military capabilities, released in February.
Since 2000, China has built more submarines, destroyers, frigates and corvettes than Japan, South Korea and India combined. To put this further into perspective, the total tonnage of new warships and auxiliaries launched by China in the last four years alone is significantly greater than the total tonnage of the French navy. -IISS
“China’s emerging weapons developments and broader defence-technological progress mean that it has become a global defence innovator” says Dr. John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive of the London-based think tank.
Of note, Chipman points out that China's Chengdu J-20 low-observable combat aircraft is set to challenge America's "monopoly on operational stealthy combat aircraft." As we reported yesterday, the J-20 is rumored to have already been deployed to the South China Sea along with several of China's Su-35s, to take part in a joint combat patrol over the region, according to the Chinese Ministry of Defense whose release did not mention the J-20.
The IISS report also notes that China's expanding array of advanced guided-weapons projects, such as the PL-15 extended range air-to-air missile which could enter service this year. "This weapon appears to be equipped with an active electronically scanned array radar, indicating that China has joined the few nations able to integrate this capability on an air-to-air missile," reports Chipman.
China's military computing technology is also rapidly growing, as vast resources have been sunk into "extremely high-performance computing and quantum communications," which, along with their weapons advancements and overall defense capabilities mean the country is no longer merely "catching up" with Western progress.
China expects to be the dominant force in the Asia-Pacific region
In a keynote speech to China's Communist Party Congress last October, Xi promised to make China's armed forces world-class by the middle of the century. In a January speech, Xi told thousands of Chinese soldiers to “neither fear hardship nor death,” during an inspection visit Wednesday to the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Central Theater Command in northern Hebei province, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Meanwhile, “In the Asia-Pacific, the dominant role of the United States in a political and military sense will have to be readjusted,” said Cui Liru, former president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a think tank under the Ministry of State Security that often reflects official thinking. “It doesn’t mean U.S. interests must be sacrificed. But if the U.S. insists on a dominant role forever, that’s a problem.” Cui added that it was "not normal for China to be under U.S. dominance forever. You can’t justify dominance forever."
Meanwhile, Xi and other Chinese officials are of the firm belief that the United States is a superpower in decline - which will require China to step into the vacuum left behind.
“It is now clear Xi’s agenda to rebuild an Asian order with China at its center is here to stay,” said Hugh White, a scholar and former defense official in Australia who has argued that the United States must be prepared to share power with China in the Asia-Pacific region.
“I think Xi is impatient,” Mr. White added. “He wants China to be the predominant power in the Western Pacific. He wants to do it himself and for it to go down in history as his achievement. That makes him formidable.” -NYT
Indeed, with the rollout of stealth jets, new high-tech naval artillery such as a "secret railgun," and Chinese media reports bragging about aggressive maneuvers that "dare to shine the sword," our trading partner to the West has made it perfectly clear that they intend on being a dominant global force, both economically and militarily.
Last November, we reported on a secretive hypersonic weapons program, which if successful would be able to hit the United States in under 14 minutes.
“China and the US have started a hypersonic race,” said Wu Dafang, professor at the school of aeronautic science and engineering at Beihang University in Beijing who received a national technology award for the invention of a new heat shield used on hypersonic vehicles in 2013.
China is meanwhile conducting a massive 3-day combat war drill in waters to the south of Sanya, the southern tip of China’s Hainan Island, which is about 112-miles south of an economic forum on the southern island of Hainan where Chinese President Xi Jinping promised a more transparent China on Tuesday.
The Hainan Maritime Safety Administration has demarcated an area in the South China Sea that will be closed to all civilian and commercial vessels from April 10 through 13. The military exercise was made public earlier this week on the government’s website.
An editorial piece in the state-owned Global Times announced: “The mainland needs to continue to prepare for a possible military clash across the Straits.”
“Beijing cannot be led by the nose. We have to figure out more fronts to showcase our strength and to be the venue for the battle with Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the mainland needs to continue to prepare for a possible military clash across the Straits. A military showdown with Taiwan is becoming more probable and may take place sooner rather than later. Beijing needs to make clear its bottom line and inform Taiwan society of the dangerous acts which may lead to a military showdown, to avoid a war that could break out due to serious misjudgments by the US and Taiwan. Having got the upper hand strategically, the mainland won’t lose its head. Only the decisions of the mainland will count in deciding the future cross-Straits situation.”
A Twitter war observer said, “A maritime area of 8 749 km², located south of the island of Haïnan, is closed from 11 to 13 April due to military maneuvers.”
Une zone maritime de 8 749 km², située au sud de l'île de Haïnan, est fermée du 11 au 13 Avril en raison de manœuvres militaires. pic.twitter.com/SHokYMeqpo— East Pendulum (@HenriKenhmann) April 11, 2018
The observer added, “At least 7 Chinese nuclear submarines are currently at the Sanya Naval base on Haïnan Island, which borders the South China Sea. This is also the case for a few dozen surface ships of the Chinese navy. Some things are getting ready…” (not verified)
Au moins 7 sous-marins nucléaires chinois se trouvent actuellement à la base navale de Sanya, sur l'île de Haïnan, qui borde la mer de Chine méridionale. C'est également le cas pour quelques dizaines de navire de surface de la marine chinoise. Quelques choses se préparent... pic.twitter.com/f8QQpMuegc— East Pendulum (@HenriKenhmann) April 11, 2018
Now it seems with all the chess pieces positioned around the South China Sea, the epicenter of World War III could easily be Taiwan as tensions between both countries escalate even further. China has declared Taiwan a “rogue state” and has never ruled out military intervention, said the Daily Express.
General Rolando Bautista from the Philippine army said, as quoted by the Daily Express: “It’s a showcase of the capability of the US armed forces not only by sea but also by air.”
In February, FBI Director Christopher Wray informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that Chinese intelligence operatives have infiltrated American universities, “whether its professors, scientists, students;” the FBI must launch surveillance operations from its fifty-six field offices to monitor the situation. Wray emphasized that China is determined to dethrone the United States as a global superpower through unconventional means. He framed the infiltration as both a governmental and a societal threat to the American empire.
"One of the things we're trying to do is view the China threat as not just a whole-of-government threat, but a whole-of-society threat on their end"
Wray describes China’s approach to weaken the U.S. from within. Its “nontraditional collectors” of intelligence and technology, have not just been in the business community of stealing patents but now the disease has infected academia. He adds that the U.S. is underestimating the ability for Chinese students to gather sensitive national security intelligence. Public universities have long been instrumental in the development of both offensive and defensive capabilities for a multitude of US agencies such as the Department of Defense and DARPA.
"The reality is that the Chinese have turned more and more to more creative avenues using non-traditional collectors (of information)," Wray said during the Senate Intelligence Committee's annual open hearings on the greatest threats to the country.
"The use of non-traditional collectors, especially in the academic setting—whether it's professors, scientists, students—we see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country, Wray said, adding "They're exploiting the very open research-and-development environment that we have, which we all revere, but they're taking advantage of it."
Specifically, the FBI is “watching” programs at dozens of Confucius Institutes, funded by China’s Ministry of Education that are widely embedded within American universities and public schools to teach the Mandarin language.
The Confucius Institute program, which started operations in 2004, has been the subject of vast criticisms, concerns, and controversies during its international expansion. Many such concerns stem from the program’s close relationship to the Communist Party of China.
According to the South China Morning Post, some 350,000 Chinese students are actively enrolled at American universities, which is about thirty-five percent of the one million foreigners, said the Institute of International Education.
Bottom line: China's rapid military buildup, presence in US Universities, and its commitment to becoming a dominant global force will require that the United States either cede power in Asia, or face another Cold War of steadily increasing temperatures. Keep in mind - times are good. The next recession, whenever that might occur, will most certainly push already-strained economic and military relations between Washington and Beijing into uncharted territory.