Threat From China Is Being Hyped
2013-06-07 0:00

By Ivan Eland | AntiWar

Articles in the American media usually portray China as a potential adversary, and recent press coverage is no exception. Stories have appeared about China’s military hacking into the computer systems of the American government and business and Chinese oil companies’ reaping of unfair gains in Iraq on the backs of dead American soldiers. Yet the threat from China in the popular American mind instilled by such articles is overblown.

Undoubtedly, the U.S. military and intelligence services also attempt to hack into Chinese computer systems; this unseemly fact is glossed over by the usually nationalist American media. Even if Chinese military espionage is taken in isolation, it indicates that the Chinese realize a technological gap exists between China and the West and that they are having trouble developing technologies themselves. Similarly, the same conclusions could be reached about the much-ballyhooed Chinese purchase of Russian military equipment. In contrast, the United States develops its own military technologies, and they are the best in the world.

Although Chinese defense spending has been growing at a double digit annual pace for a while now, China’s military started from only a low base. Chinese yearly defense spending is still only a fifth of that of the United States and the results of that annual disparity have accumulated over many years in a vastly superior U.S. military force. Also, much of China’s recent increases in defense spending have been spent increasing military pay to keep people from defecting to the white-hot civilian economy and converting a Maoist people’s land army into one more designed to project power from China’s coasts using air and sea power. Both of these requirements have constrained the purchase of new weaponry.

Even so, China has made gains in its ability to project power, recently obtaining a small, old Ukrainian aircraft carrier. Yet carrier operations take a long time to master, and China is still very limited in its power projection capability. Also, China’s imitation of the United States in emphasis on carrier forces could be ill advised. In any naval war, carriers may very well prove vulnerable to submarines using cruise missiles and torpedoes. To the extent that pursuing carriers has an opportunity cost for the Chinese in forgoing more of those potent sea-denial forces, it may lessen China’s ability to defend itself against U.S. carriers.

China’s sea-denial forces make up any real threat to the all-in U.S. force of 11 large deck carriers. But of course this threat is to the American Empire, not the United States itself.


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