Sep 13, 2020
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U.S. Response to China’s Rising Power

Celestial Empire is perceived as a force encroaching on global interests and traditional spheres of influence of the United States

In early September 2020, the Pentagon issued a report on the development of China's Armed Forces and Security Services. The document is intended for the US Congress, where the Department of Defense has sent similar studies every year for the past 20 years.

The report begins with the PLA's goal of becoming a "world-class" military by the end of 2049, which was first announced by Secretary General Xi Jinping in 2017. Over the past two decades, the PRC has mobilized resources, technology and political will to strengthen and modernize the PLA in virtually every way. According to the US military, China is already ahead of the United States in some areas, including, in particular:

- shipbuilding... The PRC has the largest navy in the world with a combined combat strength of about 350 ships and submarines, including over 130 large surface warships. For comparison: the combat strength of the US Navy is approximately 293 ships as of early 2020;

- conventional ballistic and ground-based cruise missiles... The PRC has more than 1,250 land-based ballistic missiles and land-based cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5500 kilometers. Currently, the United States only uses ground-based ballistic missiles with a range of 70 to 300 kilometers;

- integrated air defense systems... The PRC has one of the world's largest contingent of advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile systems, including the Russian S-300, S-400 and domestically produced systems, which form part of its reliable and redundant integrated air defense architecture.


More striking are recent efforts that include a complete restructuring of the PLA into a force capable of conducting joint operations, an increase in the overall combat readiness of the PLA, encouragement to adopt new operational concepts, and an expansion of the PRC's military presence overseas.

The report emphasizes that in 2019, China decided that the armed forces should take a more active role in promoting the country's foreign policy.

It is also noted that China began to apply a mixed development strategy for military and civilian purposes, including:

1) linking China's military-industrial base with civilian technology and industry;

2) the integration and use of the achievements of science and innovative technology in the military and civilian sectors;

3) cultivating talents and mixing the experience and knowledge of military and civilians;

4) the inclusion of military needs in civilian infrastructure and the use of civil engineering for military purposes;

5) using the capabilities of the civil service and material and technical support for military purposes;

6) Expansion and deepening of China's national defense mobilization system, which includes all relevant aspects of society and economy for military use and competition.

Meanwhile, the United States has long used exactly the same approach, which is reflected in the strategies, field charters and documents of the respective organizations. The US defense industrial complex also produces civilian products (a striking example is the Boeing company). Although the political system of the United States does not allow mobilizing all the resources of society in peacetime in the interests of power, historical facts indicate that in wartime the situation may be completely different.

The authors of the report suggest that China will at least double its arsenal of nuclear weapons. At the moment, the PRC has at its disposal just over 200 warheads. For nuclear deterrence, Beijing uses the classic triad of submarines, strategic bombers and land-based missiles. However, other opportunities are also developing: the use of ballistic missiles by aircraft and the development of sea-based platforms.

The United States is particularly concerned about the PLA's overseas activity. In addition to the military base in Djibouti, China plans to deploy additional logistics capabilities to support its military forces. Probably the creation of such points in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, UAE, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola and Tajikistan. Most of these countries are also partners of Washington, and changing priorities will clearly not be in its favor.

And, of course, the possibility of conducting operations of a very different profile for the United States is a real threat. If in recent years the main trend has been accusations against China for hacker attacks, the report already mentions methods of working through the media, business, academia, cultural organizations and various communities both within the United States and through international organizations.

A separate section of the report is devoted to Russian-Chinese relations. Joint military exercises, oil supplies, interest in the Northern Sea Route, as well as participation in various organizations and forums such as BRICS were also reflected in the document. It is noteworthy that the text contains satellite images of military bases, as well as maps and diagrams that clearly show the military architecture of China.

In addition, separately as an appendix, the military balance compared to Taiwan is shown - a subtle hint of the need to follow partnership agreements and strengthen its own military presence in the region.

This congressional report was preceded by the RAND Corporation's study of China's grand strategy in June this year - China's great strategy. Trends, trajectories and long-term competitionprepared by a team of authors.

This is an equally important document, necessary for understanding the perception of China by the American establishment and its activity in the foreign arena. But in contrast to the rather cold analysis by the Pentagon, here the "threat" emanating from China is emotionally accented.

Photo: REUTERS Adrees Latif

Since grand strategy itself is a long-term process, the paper provides a retrospective overview of the confrontation between the United States and China, as well as their perception of threats from the United States and the methods by which Beijing is trying to fight them. The "soft power" of China is also considered in detail, including the activities of the Confucius Institute around the world. At the end of the work, possible scenarios for the development of the situation and certain conclusions are given, which the US Armed Forces must take into account.

In addition to the state assessment of the growth of China's power, which is being developed in the corridors of US power, many American media recently also like to get creepy about "Chinese threat to humanity"...

For example, the American edition The tablet writes about the incredibly ambitious plans of the Chinese Communists to discredit and dismantle liberal values ​​embedded in the existing global architecture. They supposedly carry a future reality in which even the idea that China could be more successful, richer or more powerful if it were free would sound too ridiculous to be taken seriously. INandvision of the future community of nations, formulated by Xi Jinping as "Commonality of the common destiny of mankind"will give Chinese communism the moral recognition it is now denied. According to the head of the PRC, the party-state should have introduced a new "Contribution to political civilization" and become a new chapter in "History of the development of human society"... Power blocs and existing military alliances will soon disintegrate as various countries on Earth are pulled into China's economic orbit. According to the author of the publication, no one can compete with China, which will demonstrate to the whole world the superiority of its own socialist system. It is significant that the aforementioned publication is devoted to Jewish culture in a broad sense, but for some reason it was decided to insert its own "five cents" about China.

It is obvious that the United States perceives China as a difficult partner and dangerous competitor. The question is not even the confrontation between the two countries (which is also a significant factor for making political decisions in the United States), but that the Celestial Empire is perceived as a force encroaching on global interests and traditional spheres of influence of the United States. And this is fraught with the involvement of other actors and the transformation of contradictions into a multi-level and complex conflict of a global scale.

Cover photo: REUTERS US NAVY

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