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China remains unstable 

     I agree that, fundamentally, it is not in China's interest to seek its desired solution to the Taiwan question by military means, and any military action by China must be take advantage of surprise and be immediately successful before the Americans have time to respond.  That may be hard to do these days.  I don't know the technology involved, but I assume that the American military can see just about everything the Chinese are doing and maybe also hear a lot of what they're saying.  (That just leaves reading their minds as the big unknown.)  Inscrutability just isn't what it used to
be.  As you know, Sunzi's "Art of War" tells us that the highest strategy is one which gains victory without fighting.  Taiwan has money, advanced technical and organizational expertise, intimate links with American society and institutions, and loyal adherents among several million overseas Chinese.  Most of those assets can be gained for China's benefit through a peaceful solution to the political conflict, but would be lost if they go to war.

     What's to be feared is a situation in which the forces of domestic dissent appear so strong to the Chinese leadership that they might think, however misguidedly, that invoking a foreign threat to sovereignty, requiring a military response, was the only way to hold on to their own power.  China will be facing very, very formidable environmental and demographic pressures over the next two or three generations, at least.  The easy economic reforms have been done; the hard ones remain to be done.  Beyond a point that is now close at hand, further economic progress seems to require political reforms that frighten the current leadership.  The task for those defending Taiwan is to make the cost of China's challenging them obviously much higher than the cost of addressing the domestic challenges to China's leadership.

     Lee Kwan Yew was quoted today as saying that China is now the second most powerful country in the world, and that China's power in Asia will inevitably grow at the expense of America's in that region.  This recalls a recent news story, which referred to a secret report recommending that American policy should aim to prevent any other country from consolidating the resources of a region, so as to play a major role globally.  I suppose the point is that Asia is potentially so powerful that America cannot afford to let China dominate it single handedly.  In that sense, the defense of Taiwan has implications beyond simply preserving democracy on the island as an example to China.  Japan has almost as much to lose as the Taiwanese do if China became overwhelmingly dominant in East Asia.

     My musings on this subject have gone beyond what I expected, so I'll quit here.  I'm interested in your approach, which offers an alternative perspective to much of what comes through the mainstream media.

Tom Bartlett

Taiwan and China Trade

     I would just like to add to your editorial concerning why the PRC (China) won't invade the ROC (Taiwan). The military reasons you've (and others) mention are very valid but they are, in my opinion, not the most prevalent ones. It is the economy. More specifically, the two share a lucrative trade. For example, Taiwan's investments in Mainland China has topped $100 billion (US). The Communist Party of China recognises this as valuable and therefore are not going to risk this trade in the name of waving the flag. Economic power is more important than political power. My source is the magazine 'Asiaweek', issue July 6, 2001, <>.

     I should qualify my reason (and almost all reasons) for China not being able to invade Taiwan. All these reasons depend on China being political stable. The Communist Party is composed of three different factions. The Moderates, the Hardliners, and the Military. Currently, its the Moderates who have the power. They are the ones who pushed for the Olympics. They are the ones who handled the EP-3E crisis with relative calm.  However, if the Moderates make a political blunder, the Hardliners or even the Military will step in and take over. If that happens, I certainly will be re-evaluating my opinion.

                                                                                              Dennis S
The China Threat

     Enjoyed your article on Taiwan/China issue. All the media seems to think war is soon, and today China is again threatening an invasion if there isn't a reunification.  In the "Washington Times" today (Wed) it said China just launched their first sophisticated military satellite (no film ) to help them against U.S. aircraft carriers, as well as missile and other intelligence planning needs... what do you think?  Also... what about the land invasion exercises  China has been doing?  I think it was about 100,000 men?  Is that enough to invade that country?   

                                                                   Jeff Altgilbers

Ed. The "Washington Times" is owned by a Korean who became wealthy through his Korean CIA and US CIA connections.  They are leading liars in the USA, spreading whatever myths the military-industrial complex invents.  100,000 Chinese soldiers are only a threat to Taiwan if they can walk on water.

China's Military

      One thing that constantly surprises me about G2mil is the inherent self-contradiction in the different articles. On the one hand, you often criticize expensive, complex, and highly breakable military equipment purchased by the military.  Yet often the "alternative" offered is an even more complicated and fantastic system which seems miraculously capable at first glance (as do all miracle technology solutions) but is in fact just as prone to breakdown and complications as the system it is replacing.  That said, I do enjoy G2mil quite a bit. I think you raise many valid points in your editorials and articles.  

     For example, your explanation of why China would never invade Taiwan (which, by the way, is also implicitly an explanation for why China would never be a threat to the US) is spot on.  However, I would disagree with one comment you make.  You mention that China's military is second-class, but I would propose that China's military is first class, that is, for the true purpose of its existence.  As von Clausewitz once said, war is the continuation of policy by other means.  A military force is inevitably shaped by the political forces behind its use.  Compare, for example, China's military with that of the United States.  The US military is, primarily, designed for power-projection.  Ignore for a moment the ideals of defending the American people and American interests; while the moral implications of any US action are debatable, the main focus of the US armed forces is the ability to go anywhere in the world at just about any time and make sure events happen according to the US playbook and no one else's.  That's it.  

     Although exceptions to this generalization exist, for the most part the US military is designed around this principle.  That is why it is designed to be small, highly professional, and extremely mobile.  The idea is that US technological innovation and economic superiority can be used to, essentially, trade money for men.  We spend so much money so that we can move forces around, and when they arrive at their destination they can use our superior technology to offset the opposition's usually greater numbers.  The US military was never designed to defend America's borders, which is anyway completely unnecessary.  However, it is perfect (in a manner of speaking) for its real role, which is to fight somewhere else.  

     China's military, on the other hand, is most decidedly NOT a power projection force.  The PLA is a largely foot-infantry force backed up by comparatively small numbers of tanks and other vehicles, many of which are obsolete.  Likewise, the PLAAF depends on large numbers of outdated, short-ranged aircraft and the PLAN is a littoral force with only a few blue-water vessels.  The political reason for the existence of China's military is twofold.  One, to defend China's vast borders.  Having large numbers of immobile infantry is a bad idea when you may be called upon to fight on the other side of the globe at a moment's notice, but for holding on to vast stretches of territory sprawled across several thousand miles nothing more is really needed (the tactical superiority of a mobile defense is unquestioned, of course, but for political purposes having large numbers of troops sitting around looking busy this is more important).  

     Likewise, China's air and naval forces are similarly organised.  They are large, yes, but comprised of mostly obsolete equipment scattered across large distances.  The majority of China's air force comprises of 50 year-old MiG 19 copies that have no real all-weather combat ability, and her navy is large, but has only a few destroyers (with limited AAW capability) that can operate more than a hundred miles or so offshore.  Indeed, despite the hulabaloo about China's purchase of Russian Sovremmenny-class destroyers and possibly building aircraft carriers, it must be noted that these are moves designed to defensively counter US aircraft carriers (the Sovremennys, like most Russian surface combatants, were designed almost exclusively as carrier killers), which have a habit of dragging their cottails along the Taiwan Straits whenever China coughs. 

     The second reason for China's military organization is to keep its populace from getting, well, uppity.  Once again, millions of rifle infantry are useless in a real, modern war, but for keeping "public order" in a nation where only criminals and the authorities have guns, they are tailor-made.  Thus, China's military suffices for China's political leaders: it holds on to the territory they already have, and keeps the peasants from coming to their senses.  China, historically, culturally, and politically, thinks only of China.  It is not interested in military expansion, only in areas it considers historically part of China (i.e. Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc) and not losing face in the world at large.  Thus, as long as the US plays nice and makes the proper noises, even if there is no real substance, China will remain satisfied.  It will certainly never become a true global player, in the sense that the US or even the Soviet Union was.  Instead, it will talk tough, make loud noises, make sure everyone respects it, and go home happy.  Oh, yes, and asides from the military considerations, China would never invade Taiwan.  It needs the money too much for that.

     Taiwan and anti-US sentiment are a pressure-valve for the Chinese government, a sort of wag-the-dog situation.  Since the reinstatement of public education and universities before and during Deng Xiaoping's reforms, China has produced a large crop of intellectual, college-educated young men and women.  Nationalism and anti-US sentiment are what the Chinese government uses to keep these students from realizing what an earlier generation of college students realized in the 80's, that the communist government is corrupt, evil, and should be gotten rid of.  Sorry about the long rant, but the whole China situation is something I've been thinking about for a while.  It frustrates me that so many people can be fooled by corrupt politicians trying to sell more weapons.  There's that military-industrial complex going again...

                                                                        Haomiao Huang

Ed. Excellent information, and I agree that China's military is first class for its mission, but is not going challenge the USA or even Japan for control of the Pacific.  I do think the USA needs sophisticated fighters like the F-16, but spending seven times more for an F-22 for marginal enhancements is a waste.  While many programs are criticized for costs, only G2mil attacks them on technical grounds.  If you have a target, e-mail an article.

Keep the Truth Coming

      I hope you keep this one posted for a time. It sure is nice to see some TRUTH presented on this subject for a change. The Dumbed Down Civilian Cattle Public believes anything the RED-CFR MEDIA tells them on their Brainwash box-TVs.

Frederick John Gagnon 

Inexpensive Space Launches

Ed. The July 30, 2001 issue of "Aviation Week and Space Technology" has some good articles on plans for cheaper rocket  launches.  It also reveals that a single launch of Boeing's biggest and latest Titan IVB Delta rocket costs $716 million, which was just used to put a $256 million DSP missile detection satellite into orbit.  Many "Aviation Week" articles appear on line at 

Frequency Hopping Radar Exists

     Frequency hopping radar has existed for over 30 years!  As a former US Navy Aviation Electronics Tech ("AT"); I was an instructor on the then-new Lockheed S-3A Viking aircraft in San Diego (1973-'75) The S-3 had a multi-mode search radar with an "agile" mode, where the syncronizer/transmitter units were "synched to the receiver, and was advertised as incapable of being jammed! The system was the Texas Instruments AN/APS-116 (APS=Airborne/Pulsed/Search)
     I believe the reason no one else uses "agile" RF exciters is because "The Evil Empire" didn't possess the technology.  We didn't sell to 3rd world banana republics, and the Soviet States never developed the technology. The Prowlers only have to perform defensive jamming against existing threat bands , not the entire defined RF spectrum!                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                            John Nelson 

Ed.  I guess the US military doesn't advertise this technology.  I assume it is also used by Aegis radar and Patriot missile batteries, and maybe AWACS and fighters.  On the other hand, the threat of jamming is often overlooked, and I'm told frequency hopping requires much more power.  The bigger issue is that frequency hopping is not advanced technology, especially with today's low-cost computers.  If an opponent built an air defense network using frequency hopping radar, the invincible US Air Force may be blown out of the sky.