Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Don't Underestimate the Threat

China remains a threat with its focused efforts to improve capabilities for a very specific war--the conquest of Taiwan. The fact that China is overall weaker than America, Japan, and even India is irrelevant when you look at the war China plans to win.

Strategypage once again pours cold water on the notion that China is a major threat to America. Hutchison points out:

Two other countries are competitors with China for the position of being the top power in Asia – India and Japan. Both countries are also carrying out major modernization programs, particularly involving their fleets and air forces. Both are already far ahead of China in qualitative terms of having capable naval and air forces.


China is behind both India and Japan in the arenas of airpower and naval forces. In Asia, China has the third most-powerful military. India and Japan are close contenders for the top spot. China only ranks first in the amount of hype it receives.

Once again, as I've pointed out every other time I've linked to posts that discuss Chinese weaknesses, I don't disagree with a single word of the analysis. I don't lay awake at night worrying about Chinese troops coming ashore in California. Should it come to a fight in the next generation, it will be with American aircraft (manned or unmanned) flying over Chinese territory and not the other way around.

But this does not, as I've said before, mean China is not a threat. The Chinese build up is narrowly focused to take Taiwan and to keep us out of the fight long enough to win. In this narrow band of capabilities, China is getting ready to take Taiwan. And Taiwan isn't helping by refusing to arm up in the face of the Chinese threat.

Japan is stronger than China at sea and in the air, but may not be able to intervene fast enough. India is stronger in sea and air power, but is too far away from Taiwan. And America is far away and may take too long to get significant power into the fight in time to defend Taiwan. This is despite the fact that we have a well-rounded military capable of doing lots of things all over the world.

It just doesn't matter that China is generally backward in military hardware when we look at specific scenarios for conflict. When we focus on Taiwan, the fact that China does not have a modern military across the board means China would lose the war if it escalated; but if the war stays narrowly focused it is a different story. China may have enough advanced equipment to conquer Taiwan in the very near future at a cost China will accept. And that will be a defeat for us despite our military superiority over China, Japan's superiority over China, and India's superiority over China.

The Chinese are far from being ten feet tall. But you don't need that kind of height to conquer Taiwan.