Friday, March 27, 2009

China is preparing, but for what type of conflict?

Friday, March 27, 2009

As the argument gathers steam in the U.S. that we need to prepare our military for more battles with insurgent forces and low-level conflicts of the future, all the while letting our defenses geared toward major conflicts gather dust, it is interesting to see what the single largest near-peer rival on the globe is doing.

China is preparing aggressively. That much is certain, although exactly to what end remains unclear. Citing a U.S. report, the Washington Post puts it this way: “The report indicates that uncertainty over Beijing's intentions in modernizing its military is a source of concern. ‘Given the apparent absence of direct threats from other nations, the purposes to which China's current and future military power will be applied remain uncertain,’ says the 66-page report.” (“China’s Defense Tab Sharply Up, US Says” The Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson, March 27, 2009)

We can glean a bit from the type of preparations the Chinese have chosen, however. It’s not low-level conflict.

In fact, they seem to be preparing to catch up, equal or surpass other militaries in the arena that only two other major powers really occupy: Russia and the United States.

The list of China’s spending priorities differs greatly from the U.S. trend. While we slash back our F-22 program to a fragment of initial plans, and punt the much-needed tanker down the road yet again, China is heavily investing in the top end of technology. The list is not short, but here are a few of China’s priorities: ballistic long-range missiles, including many that can reach any spot in the U.S.; and a beefed-up navy that extends their reach, especially attack submarines.

All told, China admits to an 18 percent spending surge, another $60 billion increase over their current budget, as they have for several years in a row now. In actual dollars, the U.S. estimates China actually plans to spend roughly double that one-year increase, however, according to the Post report.

What are the long distance plans for this muscular military? They aren’t saying, but we can assume attack submarines and long-range missiles are not part of the arsenal needed to keep Tibet in the fence.

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