Beware of China!

W.J. Astore

Threat inflation is always a lead feature at the Pentagon (how better to justify enormous budgets?), and just today I caught this story at FP: Foreign Policy.

At the Jiangyan shipyard near Shanghai, the Chinese navy is busy building up its next crown jewel. The Type 003 Carrier—boring name aside—showcases China’s growing naval ambitions and poses one of the greatest new challenges to U.S. naval supremacy in the Asia-Pacific. 

China isn’t saying much about its new carrier, but satellite imageryanalyzed by experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies this week shows it is making “considerable progress” on the carrier, with its flight deck, superstructure, and sponsons “nearly complete.” 

The carrier, about 318 meters in length, will be the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) most technologically advanced and largest yet—and the largest non-U.S. carrier to be constructed in decades. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command estimates China could have four carriers by 2025, with potentially one more to come by 2030. It’s a sign China, already the world’s largest shipbuilder, wants to use that industrial might to supercharge its massive navy. 

What the new carrier means. “The trend is that China is attempting to build a blue water navy, and that’s what this third carrier and plan beyond that represents,” said Eric Sayers, an expert with the American Enterprise Institute and former advisor to the commander of U.S. Pacific Command. “That’s not for its near seas. … That’s more for projecting power into the Indo-Pacific and beyond.” 

China’s carrier upgrades and other investments in its navy have some experts worried Beijing could be getting more capable of showdowns with U.S. carrier strike groups in the region or launching a military assault on Taiwan, which top military officials have predicted could come within the next six years. 

PLAN of attack. “I think they’re going to become more confrontational,” said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and former U.S. Defense Department official. “With their carriers, they may think that they’re going to be able to establish sea control for long enough that they can pull off an amphibious assault.” 

Aha! The Chinese are just like us! “Confrontational.” They’re building a navy that’s all about “projecting power,” perhaps even beyond the Pacific. How dare they! I wonder what the U.S. should do in response? Perhaps build even more aircraft carriers and an even bigger “blue water” navy? I wonder…

The U.S. Air Force is getting into the threat inflation act as well. I saw a report that suggested China is building sites (possibly dummy ones) for nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Guess which service has its own plans to build new ICBMs? Yes, it’s the U.S. Air Force, and the Chinese “threat” is being used to justify the huge expense of new, stationary, nuclear missiles based on land. (Those ICBMs, if deployed, will probably end up costing at least $100 billion, and perhaps double that.)

I have a perfect strategy for China to win any struggle against the U.S. Make noises about something that you know will set off America’s military-industrial complex, such as aircraft carriers, ICBMs, even ambiguous plans about attacking Taiwan. Then watch as America’s military wets its pants before Congress, calling desperately for money and weaponry to meet the Chinese threat. A few billion spent here and there by China should goad America’s military enthusiasts into spending trillions to meet the threat that, to be frank, they very much want to see from China. It’s truly a win-win for China, and perhaps a win as well for America’s military-industrial complex, but it’s a huge loss for the American people.

Speaking of Taiwan, I’ve even heard talk of the U.S. Army getting into the act by basing “tripwire” forces there, much like our “tripwire” forces in South Korea, the idea being if Mainland China dares to attack Taiwan, they know it’ll be a cause for war as they’ll have to “trip” over, and presumably kill, U.S. troops. What a comforting thought.

Chinese hysteria is reaching its peak in America, notes Michael Klare at TomDispatch.com, so much so that strategic miscalculation is more possible than ever as both sides–but especially America–see hostility as the other side makes moves to counter perceived aggression.

I know the title of my article is “Beware of China,” but of course my real message is beware of America, specifically its military leaders and corporate profiteers who are always happy to exaggerate threats in the cause of securing more money and power.

“Only Americans can hurt America,” said Dwight D. Eisenhower. We had best keep that in mind as various men in uniform hyperventilate about China and the threat it poses over the next few years or decades. Indeed, as Andrea Mazzarino noted in a fine article at TomDispatch.com today, the cancer of never-ending war is killing our democracy. Forget about being afraid of China. It’s time to be afraid of our leaders and all their democracy-killing schemes.

OMG! China might be building silos! You know, those things we’ve had for 60 years? Take cover!

16 thoughts on “Beware of China!

  1. A coda: China is devoting the bulk of its resources to domestic infrastructure and economic improvements, not military power.

    China has learned from the USSR. Don’t try to match the U.S. in military spending or power. Just look like you’re doing it, thereby feeding the U.S. military-industrial complex and ensuring the USA will remain on its dumb and wasteful path of militarism and weapons and war.

    China has already won, and without war.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that in the case of the USSR, they really believed they had to beat the US in every way and their economic system was not up to the task. Khrushchev’s folly was to mask their inability with bravado that provided fuel for the scare mongers in the US. The USSR spent lavishly on the military as the citizenry stood in lines due to an inadequate supply of almost everything.

      With China, the situation is different in that their economic system gives concrete (pun intended) indications that they will shortly match and surpass us. Hundreds of millions of eager consumers are panting for stuff. Cities are sprouting out of nowhere and skyscrapers are growing like grass. They are making strides that shame us in areas we are ignoring that provide services to the public.

      Our current plight may be more analogous to that of the USSR. We trumpet our military which has awesome power that cannot be used against another nuclear power, that does nothing to help our real problems of crumbling infrastructure and inadequate social services. True, we don’t have citizens standing in lines, but that is because for too many there’s no point in joining a line since the product on offer (such as healthcare) isn’t affordable.

      In some areas we shine. We have three billionaires cavorting in space, with eager lines of lesser billionaires waiting for a ride.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well said Clif. Even in Telescopes that I know a little about. Since China started manufacturing Telescopes in mass quantities the “Synta” brand among others we in the Amateur Astronomy community have never seen such Large Aperture Scopes @ such low prices ever.., and the caveat more importantly is that they’re even Decent!!!

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  2. China also has a nice Space Program going as well with a new Space Platform, and I believe Rovers on both the Lunar Surface plus Mars…! I applaud them.

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        1. Yes without a shadow of a doubt sorry ” Flying into the Danger Zone” Tom Cruise! I had a Pvt. Public Safety Officers Police & Firefighters Tour of the Carrier “Big John” back in the day. On the U.S.S. J.F.K. CV67 I also saw the 2 F-14’s. that dared to cross Khadafi’s “Line of Death”, and they shot down & splashed his 2 Migs. into the Gulf. lol. Their Tails were already painted. Carriers better have a crack Firefighting Team because they will burn unmercifully. Carrier killing Missiles will leave these floating Airports screwed. I hope more is coming to leave these Sailors feeling safe…!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Phil, I think they will really prove smart if they use robotics to clean our clock on visits to other planets. Our Man-in-Space program is going to be another giveaway to the MIC with no advantages over the robots we have already shown can do the job by themselves for a fraction of the price.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Clif: Robotics monetarily are the only way as Carl Sagan said on Johnny Carson way back in the early Nineties when he was in his early 40’s. Sad Carl died so young @ 62 of a rare form of Cancer, but he did already leave his mark. Johnny a gracious, generous Host always had Carl on because he also was a Amateur Astronomer who I believe even has an Asteroid named for him… China I also believe has a near future Landing Mission Manned for the Moon so I won’t be surprised @ any rate.

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  3. Three points to keep in mind when thinking about and making judgements about China.
    First, China is waking from a 900 year slumber and is now stretching its muscles. 900 years ago about the year 1123, the tatars invaded China, followed by the Mongols in 1212. In 1500 the Portuguese invaded coastal China, then the rest of the Europeans powers followed. The Chinese have had outside masters for much of the last 900 years and they are tired of it!

    Second, the imposition of European culture on China started with the Portuguese about 1500 and continued with the English, French, Germans and Americans. The Chinese were made to feel inferior in every way. A once highly sophisticated and largely peaceful society now had violence and other abuses to deal with. Drug addiction was actually introduced by the English. When the Chinese rulers tried to stop opium from coming into the country, the English started the Opium Wars. There was a lot of profit in selling opium to the Chinese!

    Third, the Chinese have watched the United States engage in two wars on their borders, Korea and Vietnam. I wonder how Americans would feel if China had engaged in wars in Mexico and Canada?

    As I pointed out in a previous post, the main land Chinese are preparing to take Taiwan. Six years is too long, it will be this year or next. The U.S. will not be able to stop them and will ‘blink’ when the assault starts. The Chinese know this because the U.S. blinked when atomic bombs were considered for use in Korea. At that time China had a rag tag army and no nuclear weapons, yet the U.S. was fearful of starting a war with China. A large percentage of the enemy troops the U.S. was fighting by the end of 1950 were Chinese, so any atomic bombing would have killed thousands of Chinese.

    The U.S. never invaded North Vietnam for fear of starting a war with China. It wasn’t until 1967 that China tested its first hydrogen bomb. They had no delivery system except airplanes for the remainder of the 1960s so they were never a threat to main land U.S.

    The military capabilities of China now are so powerful that they know the U.S. will not start a war with them over the seizure of Taiwan.

    Korea is probably fine with the Chinese as it is. A strong and united Korea on her border is not in her interests. An impoverished and submissive North Korea is a good buffer for China from the wealth of South Korea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Chinese military invasion of Taiwan seems incredibly foolhardy — and the Chinese are not fools.

      Of course, assuming China does attack Taiwan, I’m unsure how that directly threatens US security. It’s like saying a US invasion of Cuba would threaten China’s security.

      Remember how George Washington urged us to avoid entangling ourselves in foreign alliances? It’s solid advice.

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  4. China is a bit like a porcupine it has dangerous quills if you get too close. China has every reason in the world to keep the world as it is. I see no purpose in China invading Taiwan, unless they are threatened, Taiwan would like to maintain peaceful co-existence.

    China owns the USA in the sense that Made in China dominates our shelves. The multi-national corporations make billions off this trade. Then these corporations can take those billions and stash them off shore in some tax haven.

    At the same time the Wall Street-Security-Military-Industrial Complex can hype up the “threat” of China via their puppet think tanks. The suits in these think tanks will receive plenty of air time on cable “news”.

    By the way, I recall that once Vietnam starting winding down their was rash talk of a “Peace Dividend”, i.e., the billions spent on the Vietnam War could be used on the domestic front.

    So will we have a “Peace Dividend” now that we are leaving Afghanistan??? I am thinking – NOT.

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    1. There was talk of a peace dividend with the end of the Cold War too. If you examine US military spending from 1946 onward you will find that spending was only reduced enough that it went back to the average level of spending from the 50s through the 80s. It only dropped in comparison to the Reagan era spending spree. Interestingly, if you look at the budgets during the Korean War era closely you will find that most of the spending increases went to building the nuclear arsenal and it’s associated systems and facilities around the world, not so much on the Korean War itself. Of course, for the past couple of decades that budget has just been going up and up, under the administrations of both parties.

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  5. I’ve always been mystified by China’s desire to militarize so much now. They’ve made inroads all over the world with business/trade deals. China has investments and businesses worldwide. Their domestic growth and improvements in the standard of living have been astounding. They have a space exploration program. There are no serious external threats from any of the 14 countries on their borders. Why are they wanting to spend so much on military endeavors?

    Liked by 1 person

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