Monday, May 22, 2006

Plan Versus PLAN

Taiwan has published a defense document for their future defense (tip to Mad Minerva):

In describing Taiwan's security environment, Chen's government compared the Chinese military to the Nazi war machine in World War II and asserted that China is bent on long-term military expansion that requires it to control Taiwan and the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. In a recent interview, Chen said Taiwanese intelligence had information that China has a plan to attack the island within 10 years, but this assertion was not repeated in the strategy declaration.

Only by building up its own military and economic strength, the document declared, can Taiwan preserve its de facto independence and democratic system. To make that possible, it said, the government will boost military spending from 2.5 to 3 percent of gross domestic product.

It is nice that the Taiwanese plan to defend themselves. But the ten-year time frame seems to ignore that the Chinese may wish to settle the Taiwan issue eight years before that conveniently distant date. Taiwanese intelligence was able to pry that critically important information out of the mainland, eh? What a coup!

Just one question, why is China in a crash-building program for their PLA Navy?

Far be it from me to lecture the Taiwanese on Sun Tzu, but might not Peking have gained the services of converted spies in Sun Tzu's description? Could the Chinese have fed this convenient information to the Taiwanese to lull them? After all, a ten-year Taiwanese defense plan that creates a good defense at the end of that time will just waste resources if the PLAN attack is conducted before the Taiwanese defense plan is completed.

If the attack is coming sooner than expected, rather than conduct a long-range plan alone, the Taiwanese would be better off if they did things that can bear fruit in the next couple years--like actually buying ammunition for example.

Because after all, again noting Sun Tzu:

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believes we are far away.

China seems far away. Ten years away, in fact, according the that crack Taiwanese intelligence.

I suspect that the Chinese are closer, more able, and more capable of hiding their activity than we give them credit for. Unless Peking is unaware of Sun Tzu's writings.

China is getting ready to invade. And it won't be ten years from now. Consider, even if Taiwan's spies are right about the ten-year time frame, wouldn't the Chinese accelerate their own plans if they think Taiwan will be secure at the end of Taiwan's ten-year defense plan?

Two years. That's what I think. And Taiwanese thinking isn't making this any less likely in my view. Although to be fair to the Taiwanese spies, 2008 falls inside that "within ten years" time frame.

UPDATE: the 2006 Department of Defense report on Chinese military power notes:

In recent decades there has been a resurgence in the study of ancient Chinese statescraft within the PLA. Whole departments of military academies teach moulue, or strategic deception, derived from Chinese experience through the millennia. Authoritative contemporary doctrinal materials define the goals of strategic deception as "to lure the other side into developing micperceptions ... and to [establish for oneself] a strategically advantageous position by producing various kinds of false phenomena in an organized and planned manner with the smallest cost in manpower and materials.

So I guess they do read Sun Tzu. Could one example perhaps be misrepresenting what you are buying certain platforms for?