China- US: CJCS Admiral Mullen said today that China’s high-tech military capabilities, including the radar-evading stealth J-20 fighter, focus on America.
China has every right to develop military capabilities, Mullen said, adding that he cannot understand why many appear to target the United States despite North Korea’s being an evolving threat to the region and to the United States. If Pyongyang obtains long-range nuclear missile capabilities, its provocations may become more catastrophic, Mullen stated, adding that China must pressure North Korean leadership to cease development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and expansion of nuclear weapons capability.
Comment: It is difficult to accept at face value that Admiral Mullen does not understand the Chinese obsession with the threat from the United States.
Taking the statement at face value – and not as an act of political manipulation – it implies that the J2 and J5 staffs have failed to brief him about the origins of Chinese national defense strategy since the death of Deng Xiao Ping. If the Chairman’s statement is genuine and not posturing, it is astonishing.
Older hands will recall that the Chinese and North Koreans were impressed by three US operations. The first was Desert Strom in 1991 and 1992. The second was the US response to the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1996 and the third was the US role in the conflict over Kosovo in 1998.
Someone should have briefed Admiral Mullen, as old hands briefed his predecessors, that US capabilities demonstrated in those conflicts shaped Chinese weapons decisions and their consequences are now apparent.
Starting with Deng – and including Hu Jin tao last year — every recent Chinese leader has assessed and stated that Chinese military forces are not yet capable of winning a war under modern conditions. The measure of modern capabilities always is the United States armed forces.
Thus the Chinese have sought to develop defenses against stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and helicopter attacks, all of whose advanced capabilities were demonstrated in those conflicts, plus the intimidating power of US aircraft carrier task forces.
Its analyses of and conclusions from US operations are prudent, under the circumstances. The US is the only successful model of a superpower and China has followed that model. If China ever has a conflict over Taiwan, it stands no chance of winning if it is not prepared to fight the only superpower.
Chinese military writings about the strategic implications of globalization, however, have refined the insights from the 1990s. Chinese strategists now write about the need to defend China’s national or national strategic interests in maritime, air, space and cyber environments, both near and abroad. The theoretical writings go far beyond simplistic ideas of sea area denial, denial of access and air defense. Those are just immediate tasks. The Chinese strategic vision is much broader.
The only realistic obstacle or adversary is the US. That is not hard to understand.
Phi Beta Iota: Admiral Mullen is as decent a Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (C/JCS) as we have ever had, and he means well, but the fact is that the US intelligence community is incapable of producing integrated strategic intelligence helpful to C/JCS and neither are the service intelligence centers. We are repeating history at a time when we cannot afford to do so.
Amazon: Truman and the War Scare