Posted on May 2, 2005

Expanding Nature of China

F. Andrew Messing Jr., Daniel A. Perez, Washington Times, May 2


America’s political leaders too often look only at four- to eight-year terms, ignoring China’s enormity. For example, people dismiss the simple idea 1 in 3 of the world’s people could be Chinese by 2050, all over the globe. Further, Americans especially do not see how a large portion of our conventional military is retooling to deal with low-intensity asymmetrical threats. This, while China’s conventional military power expands every year and concentrates on macrostrategic warfare, including even outer space.

Immediate concerns over rising world oil prices have obscured the indirect role of China moving into economic high gear with booming oil demand and industrialization. Meanwhile our foreign policy focuses on combating terrorism and spreading real and ersatz democracies.

Examining these situations and trends stimulates serious concern. Last year, China’s military budget visibly increased 12 percent, with similar upsurges each year over the last decade. Each annual expansion is only a small concern, but this development is ominous and doesn’t include China’s commercial military-industrial performance.

The current Chinese defense budget is only a fifth that of the United States, but its continued increase at recent rates will render the gap negligible in 20 years. Especially given the same relative quality gains from lower cost and applied effort.

China’s money has poured into improving strategic capabilities, including its blue-water navy, air capabilities and modern space communications, reconnaissance and attack systems. These increased capabilities have moved China’s army to shed its militia roots and adopt Western doctrines that integrate technology, joint operations and information warfare. So, as China’s military capabilities become comparable to those of America, conflict could erupt on sea, in the air and in space.

At the current level of growth, China will surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy in 30 years or less. Huge cash reserves and lucrative markets allow China to forge worldwide commercial ties by enticement and pressure.