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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
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, <www.asiaweek.com>.
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?
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...
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.
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 www.aviationnow.com.
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)
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.