Read the report by the ISAB Task Force on China’s Strategic Modernization (downloads PDF)
Danger Room (snippet):
A new report about U.S. military relations with China has just emerged from a State Department Advisory Board. And not only is it all kinds of hawkish. But the paper comes at the same time that we’re loading up Taiwan’s arsenal.
The Washington Times describes the paper here. Hans Kristensen at the Federation of American Scientists excoriates it here. But two telling passages need highlighting. First: “In addition to improving the ability to defend U.S. force capabilities targeted by the Chinese, the United States should focus R&D on high technology military capabilities not included in China’s military plans — military systems that will demonstrate to Beijing that trying to get ahead of the United States is futile (much the way [the Star Wars missile defense program] did against the Soviet Union).”
And second: “Washington should also make clear that it will not accept a mutual vulnerability relationship with China — something Beijing seeks through its expansion of offensive nuclear capabilities. To avoid the emerging creep toward a Chinese assured destruction capability, the United States will need to pursue new missile defense capabilities, including taking full advantage of space.”
Washington Times (snippets):
“Using superior U.S. military technical capacities, the United States should undertake the development of new weapons, sensors, communications, and other programs and tactics to convince China that it will not be able to overcome the U.S. militarily,” the report said.
The draft report said China’s “major objective is to counter U.S. presence and U.S. military capabilities in East Asia through the acquisition of offensive capacities in critical functional areas that systematically exploit U.S. vulnerabilities.” It said the buildup involves capabilities for “asymmetric warfare,” such as space and computer weapons, that could help Chinese forces defeat a stronger U.S. military.
Among the areas of U.S. strategic vulnerability identified in the report are gaps in U.S. missile defenses; dependence on space for communications; the U.S. inability to use force against China except through aircraft carrier groups; and “fragile electronics and the Internet.” The report recommends that the United States acquire new offensive space and cyber warfare capabilities and missile defenses as well as “more robust sea- and space-based capabilities” to deter any crisis over Taiwan.
China currently has about 20 missiles capable of reaching the United States but is projected to have more than 100 nuclear missiles, some likely with multiple warheads, by 2015, the report said.
Among the key findings:
• Continued rapid economic growth of 10 percent a year is “vital” for China to continue to compete with the United States and achieve its main goals of regime survival and regional dominance.
• China’s industrial and defense espionage is aimed at obtaining advanced technology for economic and military modernization.
• The scale, scope and speed of China’s rise fundamentally impacts U.S. national security, yet the U.S. “possesses only a limited understanding of Chinese intentions, and how Beijing’s economic and military expansion affects these interests.”
• China’s military and civilian leaders are not always on the same page and that separation is a potential “focal point” for mitigating hostility. China’s civilian leaders understand Americans but the Chinese military suffers from “clear paranoia and misperceptions” about U.S. intentions.
• To avoid an “emerging creep” by China toward strategic nuclear coercion, “the United States will need to pursue new missile defense capabilities, including taking full advantage of space,” the report said.
On China’s expansion after centuries as a regional power, the ISAB report stated that: “In China’s view, Taiwan is the key to breakout: If China is to become a global power, the first step must include control of this island.” Taking over the island would allow China to control the seas near its coasts and to project power eastward, the report said.
China views Taiwan, where nationalist forces fled from the mainland in 1949, as central to “the legitimacy of the regime and key to power projection,” the report said. Taiwan also is seen by China as a way to deny the United States a key ally in “a highly strategic location” of the western Pacific, the report said.