China Preparing for War in 'Every Strategic Direction'
Peter Foster, a Beijing-based correspondent for the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper, has reported on an interview with Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie published by several state-run media outlets in China. The People's Liberation Army officer is quoted as declaring "In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction. We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away."
A series of competing air and naval exercises in the summer and fall conducted by China, Russia, Japan, North and South Korea, and the United States have called into question the concept of "peaceful times" and of Beijing's "peaceful rise." Foster notes,
China also announced this month that it was preparing to launch its own aircraft carrier next year in a signal that China is determined to punch its weight as a rising superpower. The news came a year earlier than many US defence analysts had predicted.
China is also working on a "carrier-killing" ballistic missile that could sink US carriers from afar, fundamentally reordering the balance of power in a region that has been dominated by the US since the end of the Second World War.
The use of anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) figures in Erik Sofge's depiction of a possible 2015 battle between the U.S. and China over Taiwan featured in the new Popular Mechanics magazine. The outcome is grim, as the Chinese have invested heavily in "anti-access" weapons designed to win a limited war in the region while the U.S. has coasted on its past glories, letting warship and combat aircraft programs stagnate. Sofge writes,
Right now the Chinese seem to have taken the lead in this new arms race. When RAND released a report in 2000 describing the potential outcome of a Sino-American conflict over Taiwan, the United States won the war handily. Nine years later, the nonpartisan think tank revised its analysis, accounting for Beijing's updated air force, its focus on cyber warfare and its ability to use ballistic missiles to take out American satellites. RAND's new conclusion: The United States would ultimately lose an air war, and an overall conflict would be more difficult and costly than many had imagined.
Defense Minister Gen. Liang has said China's booming economy has fueled the development and production of military equipment. In contrast, America's slow recovery from recession and its debt-ridden financial condition are constraining military procurement, with major high-end defense programs being cut. It is the shift in the balance of power during "peaceful times" that weakens deterrence and tempts opponents to attack.