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China-US Conflict

China-US Conflict

See also: The Huawei ControversyChina-US Trade Conflict 

Websites

Think Tanks

China Power Project @ CSIS American Enterprise Institute China  Carnegie Endowment’s Implications of China’s Rise 

News South China Morning Post

Background

Timeline: US Relations with China: 1949-2019.

China Threat — Xi Specific

How to confront the advancing threat from China (2019). This article effectively sums up the case for fearing China as a global threat and how integration into the global economic order has failed.

The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth (2019) In the twenty-five years after 1989, the world enjoyed the deepest peace in history. In The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth, the eminent foreign policy scholar Michael Mandelbaum examines that remarkable quarter century, describing how and why the peace was established and then fell apart. To be sure, wars took place in this era, but less frequently and on a far smaller scale than in previous periods. Mandelbaum argues that the widespread peace ended because three major countries — Vladimir Putin’s Russia in Europe, Xi Jinping’s China in East Asia, and the Shia clerics’ Iran in the Middle East — put an end to it with aggressive nationalist policies aimed at overturning the prevailing political arrangements in their respective regions. The three had a common motive: their need to survive in a democratic age with their countries’ prospects for economic growth uncertain.

America must prepare for the coming Chinese empire (2019). This article basically argues that kritik alternatives are fanciful and that China is emerging as a global empire that the US needs to challenge, particularly by building ties with India and Taiwan.  The author argues that these are more important than US ties to the Middle East,  He also argues Xi is a superior leader to any of the US leaders.

The end of Chimerica The passing of global economic consensus and the rise of US–China strategic technological competition (2019) . The Trump administration isn’t necessarily deterministic in concluding that China’s internal and external behaviour can never be shaped or altered but is pointing to considerable evidence to make the case that China is moving in the opposite direction to political and economic liberalisation. China isn’t merely ‘free-riding’ and resisting becoming a ‘responsible stakeholder’ in the international system. Beijing is actively undermining the American-led international order that enabled China’s rise and actively undermining American leadership and capabilities and even interfering in US institutions. Time and patience are no longer luxuries Washington can afford. While previous administrations patiently put resources and attention in, hoping that China would pursue a more favourable trajectory, Pence is arguing that countering Chinese actions that detrimentally affect American power and interests ought to be the higher and immediate priority.

The “Xi Doctrine:” Proclaiming and Rationalizing China’s aggression (2019).  The United States must respond to China’s belligerence with greater strength, adamantine determination, and more vigorous diplomatic and military measures. The document outlines 4 parts of the “Xi Doctrine” that present a military threat to the US.

What You Need to Know About China’s Military (2019). Last month, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its annual report Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019. Also known as the China Military Power Report (CMPR), it joins two other major DoD publications produced this year that focus on People’s Republic of China (PRC) military affairs: the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) China Military Power: Modernizing a Force to Fight and Win (January 2019) [has a section on space] and Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms (National Defense University Press, February 2019). With these three publications, DoD has placed into the public domain an impressive amount of information and analysis about the Chinese military. (This article requires paid access but you can read the hyperlinked articles for free)

Herman Peng. Xi’s Consolidation of Power and the Future of China. (2019).  “Xi Jinping has consolidated more power than anyone since Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s, and he’s probably consolidated more power in his own hands than Deng Xiaoping,” said Daniel Mattingly, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Yale University. At the same time, however, public trust in Xi’s government appears to be fraying. In July, Tsinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun delivered arguably the fiercest attack on Xi’s government from a Chinese academic in recent memory. The Hong Kong Nationalist Party has resolved to combat further Chinese encroachment on its rights. Additionally and most notably, the revelation about the defective vaccines caused a two-day protest in Beijing.

China wants to be an aircraft superpower  (2019). China’s rush to rival the United States as an aircraft carrier superpower reflects Beijing’s conviction, inculcated after the perceived humiliation of the Third Taiwan Crisis, that China can neither defend its eleven-thousand-mile-long coastline nor project seapower throughout the East Asia region without fielding a modernized carrier fleet; specifically, six of them by 2035.

Beating the Americans at their own game (2019) The temporal phasing of China’s military-technical offset strategy would be supported by a sustained, robust increase in Chinese military spending. Annual Chinese defense spending jumped by at least 620 percent in real terms between 1996 and 2015—an average annual increase of 11 percent.18 Such a massive increase in military spending was bound to translate into real improvements in military capability and capacity. But these improvements proved strikingly more effective because the PLA’s prioritization of approaches, systems and forces were shaped and guided by a disciplined and coherent military-technical offset strategy. The focus of that strategy was to dramatically raise the costs to the United States of intervening in Chinese military operations in the Western Pacific so that Washington would deem such action prohibitive. In this regard, an analysis of the precise investments made by the PLA since 1996 suggests China’s offset strategy has five reinforcing lines of effort. These are:

  • Industrial and technical espionage and civil-military fusion to rapidly acquire comparable military capabilities to those developed over decades by the United States so that the PLA could compete operationally on something approaching an even footing.
  • Developing the capabilities and concepts to conduct “systems destruction warfare,” —the crippling of the U.S. battle network’s command, control, communication, and intelligence systems.
  • Attacking effectively first by amassing an arsenal of long-range precision missiles and advanced targeting systems that provide a high probability of penetrating U.S. battle network defenses in the opening stages of a conflict.
  • Developing “Assassin’s Mace” capabilities—what DoD terms “black capabilities”—that are held in reserve until unveiled in the event of war, to surprise the adversary with attacks from unexpected vectors.
  • Becoming the world leader in artificial intelligence and then deploying that technology for military superiority.

Three Chinese Weapons that could sink the US navy (2019).

How China could shut-down America’s Defenses (2019). Advanced US weapons are almost entirely reliant on rare-earth materials only made in China — and they could be a casualty of the trade war.

After the responsible stakeholder, what? Debating America’s China Strategy (2019). Now that the responsible stakeholder approach to China is essentially defunct, how should America respond? There are four options — accommodation, collective balancing, comprehensive pressure, and regime change.

US-China tensions dominate gathering of Asian defense leaders (6-3-19). This article argues that US-China tensions are increasing and could lead to conflict.

The new containment: Handling Russia, China, and Iran (2019). As U.S. global military hegemony persisted, the possibility of developed nations fighting one another seemed ever more remote. Then history began to change course. In the last several years, three powers have launched active efforts to revise security arrangements in their respective regions. Russia has invaded Crimea and other parts of Ukraine and has tried covertly to destabilize European democracies. China has built artificial island fortresses in international waters, claimed vast swaths of the western Pacific, and moved to organize Eurasia economically in ways favorable to Beijing

Threat — Arms Sales

Pentagon Indo-Pacific Report Highlights China’s Ambitions, Taiwan’s Significance in US Strategy (2019). This article argues that China is a threat and the US arms sales to Taiwan are needed to deter China.

Trump administration has a plan to compete with Russia and China over arms sales (2018). This article says the US is expanding arms sales to deter aggression by Russia and China. America must counter China’s great power threat with Military strength (2018). Trump flipped that approach on its head. The United States now consciously seeks points of contention across the military, security, diplomatic and economic spectrum. It has conducted freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea..we need to help it defend itself and be in a position to make its own decisions about the future. That means selling Taiwan the weapons it needs for defense and supporting it diplomatically

The Pentagon report: China’s military power (5-7-19). This is a review of the Pentagon’s report on China’s military threat. Highlights.. China is currently in the top five of arms exporters globally, typically offering more flexible terms and creative side payments than competitors. Major deals with Pakistan and growing sales in the Middle East are bolstering order books. Armed UAVs are a major competitive advantage for China; most other would-be suppliers are bound by voluntary export control restrictions… The report devotes significant space to comparing PRC and Taiwan forces using a new methodology yielding substantially different numbers from previous years. It explains how rapid mainland military progress has rapidly eroded much the island’s technological and geographical advantages.

China Threat — Deterrence Uniqueness

China has been quietly lowering the threshold for conflict in the South China Sea (2019). This article argues that the US is strengthening its deterrence posture vis-a-vis China in the South China Sea.

China Threat — Cooperation Fails

There is no grand bargain with China (2019). Any burst of goodwill, however, will be short lived. Xi and the ruling Chinese Communist Party are incapable of addressing the United States’ fundamental concerns over China’s industrial policies and state-led economic model. Because of this, any process to settle these issues is bound to fail. Even if tariffs are put on hold, the United States will continue to restructure the U.S.-Chinese economic relationship through investment restrictions, export controls, and sustained law enforcement actions against Chinese industrial and cyber-espionage. At the same time, there are no serious prospects for Washington and Beijing to resolve other important areas of dispute, including the South China Sea, human rights, and the larger contest over the norms, rules, and institutions that govern relations in Asia….Yet, at nearly every turn, Xi rejected Obama’s overtures in areas of significant dispute. Instead of seeking to narrow differences, Xi accelerated China’s efforts to develop an illiberal sphere of influence in ways that increasingly undermined vital U.S. interests. While Washington negotiated in good faith, Beijing dragged its feet for years on a bilateral investment treaty that would have addressed many issues at the root of today’s trade war. At the same time, Xi reasserted state control over China’s economy, failing to deliver much-needed reforms that would have created a more reciprocal economic relationship. And after the Chinese government pledged to cease and desist on cyber commercial espionage in 2015, U.S. intelligence officials determined that China was back to its old ways within a couple of years.

America needs unity on China (2019). While most Americans imagine that conflict with China will resemble a high-tech version of World War II, Beijing is already waging a new, irregular type of warfare. Indeed, there is evidence of a “systems level” competition between the United States and China that constitutes a new type of Cold War. This conflict includes covert, ambiguous weapons such as influence campaignspropaganda, cyberwar, intellectual property theftindustrial espionageelection meddling, political bribery, and surveillance on American soil….America has no choice but to take up the gauntlet. Washington’s well-meaning forty-year effort to engage the CPC and thereby nudge it toward democracy has more than simply failed. It created extensive avenues that Beijing now uses to influence America’s own government and society.

Strategic Asia 2019: China’s Expanding Ambitions (2019). This book describes how China seeks to reshape the international system to serve its strategic aims.

When China Rules the Web (2019).  For almost five decades, the United States has guided the growth of the Internet. From its origins as a small Pentagon program to its status as a global platform that connects more than half of the world’s population and tens of billions of devices, the Internet has long been an American project. Yet today, the United States has ceded leadership in cyberspace to China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has outlined his plans to turn China into a “cyber-superpower.” Already, more people in China have access to the Internet than in any other country, but Xi has grander plans. Through domestic regulations, technological innovation, and foreign policy, China aims to build an “impregnable” cyberdefense system, give itself a greater voice in Internet governance, foster more world-class companies, and lead the globe in advanced technologies. China’s continued rise as a cyber-superpower is not guaranteed. Top-down, state-led efforts at innovation in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, and other ambitious technologies may well fail. Chinese technology companies will face economic and political pressures as they globalize. Chinese citizens, although they appear to have little expectation of privacy from their government, may demand more from private firms. The United States may reenergize its own digital diplomacy, and the U.S. economy may rediscover the dynamism that allowed it create so much of the modern world’s technology.

Rare Earth What’s exactly the story with China’s rare earths? (2019)

China Threat — Africa China expanding its dominance in Africa (2019).

China is pouring lots of money into Africa (2019)

China-US war impacts

This is what a China war against America would look like (5-6-19). , one particular graphic from the October 2015 issue (p. 32) of the naval journal Naval & Merchant Ships [舰船知识] stands out as both unusual and singularly disturbing. It purports to map the impact of a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strike by twenty nuclear-armed rockets against the United States. (This first appeared in 2015.) Targets include the biggest cities on the East and West Coasts, as well as in the Midwest, as one would expect. Giant radiation plumes cover much of the country and the estimate in the caption holds that the strike “would yield perhaps 50 million people killed

China’s Geopolitical Influence

Trump trade war masks a deeper challenge from China (2018). Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is a small state with outsized strategic significance. It sits on the Bab el Mandeb strait, across from Yemen at the foot of the Red Sea, and is home to the only permanent US military base in Africa. There, too, China has built a port, as well as a railway and other projects. But shortly after opening the port last year, it also inaugurated its first overseas naval base a few miles away. Given the likelihood Djibouti will find it hard to repay its infrastructure loans, there is now concern the government may end up ceding a wider military footprint to the Chinese. The question for US policymakers has been how to respond. In recent days, the Trump administration has unveiled what seems the beginning of an answer. As the Monitor reported, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a plan to fund infrastructure and development partnerships across Asia, ahead of his own visit to the region, which just concluded. Still, the initial sum – $113 million – was microscopic compared with Belt and Road. Mr. Pompeo seems aware that a key component in a broader, sustained reply will be coordination with, and support from, allied countries. In fact, that may turn out to be the case in resolving the trade dispute with the Chinese.

US containment strategy against China could explode the conflict (2018). This article argues that containing China will fail and trigger a war.

US-China Conflict/War — Trade Ties Won’t Solve Conflict. 

Economic ties losing stabilizing force in matters of national security (2019). But as President Trump escalates his trade dispute with Chinese President Xi Jinping, there is a realization that those days are gone. The result is a reduced incentive for stability and restraint in Washington when it comes to China, raising the possibility that tensions could extend beyond the trade sphere and impact other areas of contention, including Taiwan or the South China Sea. “The way a lot of people have been talking about this is that you have lost, or you’re losing, the ballast,” said Zack Cooper, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former official in the George W. Bush administration. “The challenge now is that there is not much of a constituency that wants to protect the relationship amidst trade tensions, security concerns and human rights concerns.”

China’s geopolitical influence — Africa

Takeover trap: Why Imperialist China is invading Africa (2019). China is in Africa not to advance Maoism, but to control its resources, people, and potential. No China Threat China’s military is the biggest threat on the planet, but can it fight and defeat the US? (2019). This article argues that China’s military cannot defeat the US and that war between the US and China is not inevitable.

World safe for autocracy? China’s rise and the future of global poltiics (2019). Since 2012, China’s growing authoritarianism and resurgent state dominance over the economy have dashed Western hopes that China would eventually embrace liberalism. And China’s actions abroad have offered alternatives to U.S.-led international institutions, made the world safer for other authoritarian governments, and undermined liberal values. But those developments reflect less a grand strategic effort to undermine democracy and spread autocracy than the Chinese leadership’s desire to secure its position at home and abroad. Its efforts to revise and work around international institutions are the result of pragmatic decisions about Chinese interests rather than a wholesale rejection of the U.S.-led international order. Beijing’s behavior suggests that China is a disgruntled and increasingly ambitious stakeholder in that order, not an implacable enemy of it. In seeking to make the world safer for the CCP, Beijing has rejected universal values and made it easier for authoritarian states to coexist alongside democracies. And within democracies, the CCP’s attempts to squelch overseas opposition to its rule have had a corrosive influence on free speech and free society, particularly among the Chinese diaspora. These are real challenges, but they do not yet amount to an existential threat to the international order or liberal democracy. Successfully competing with China will require more precisely understanding its motives and actions and developing tough but nuanced responses. Overreacting by framing competition with China in civilizational or ideological terms risks backfiring by turning China into what many in Washington fear it already is.

No China Threat –General

Bolton has its sights on Iran, but the Pentagon wants to fight China (2019).

Getting China wrong, again (2019)

The upredictable rise of China (2019)

No China Threat — Need to Cooperate

Washington Post Editorial Board (2019). Is American Diplomacy with China Dead? (July 2019). This article argues that China is not trying to overturn the international order and that we need to cooperate with China to avoid conflict.

Look Before We Leap: Weighing the Risks of US-China Disengagement (July 2019).  This article argues that the US needs to cooperate with China to solve many global problems and avoid conflict.
The United States and China at a Crossroads (July 2019)   The

No China Threat — Latin America

The reasons for Chana’s cooling interest in Latin America (2019). THE UNITED STATES and China are at a hinge point in the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century. What started last year as a trade dispute, one that just last month seemed close to settlement, threatens to escalate into a new Cold War with potentially devastating consequences for both countries — and the world. Now substantially integrated, the two largest economies could unwind from each other; a technological schism could create separate platforms for communications and other high-tech systems. Flows of students and scientists and venture capital could dry up. Cooperation on strategic problems of mutual interest, such as North Korea and climate change, could cease. And countries from Southeast Asia to Latin America could be forced to pick sides. This is an outcome that both the Trump administration and the Chinese regime of Xi Jinping should be seeking to avoid. Instead, both appear to be pursuing policies that make it more likely. In the case of the Trump administration, the slide toward confrontation is being driven by reckless and sometimes senseless measures ungoverned by a coherent strategy. To be sure, there is a consensus in Washington that policy toward China needs to change from that of recent decades. Successive U.S. presidents bet that growing trade and investment between the two countries and steady diplomatic engagement could coax the Communist Party regime into becoming a responsible global player that respected the U.S.-backed international order and gradually became more free at home. Mr. Xi’s regime has shattered that hopeful vision.

Russia-China Axis China, Russia, and the US contest the global order (2019). Russia will continue to collaborate with China in constructing a continental order in Greater Eurasia that pointedly excludes the United States. Of course, China and Russia have ample reason to cooperate even without the US factor, but Washington’s pressure brings them even closer together. Moscow and Beijing will continue to have their differences, and they are not entirely free from reciprocal phobias, but the chances of a China–Russia collision over those differences are being minimised by the US policy of dual containment.

Russia’s best defense against an American containment strategy may be China (2019). The growing economic ties between Moscow and Beijing could prompt the Kremlin to harden its stance towards Washington.

A Russia-China partnership is a threat to US interests (2019)

South China Sea How a US-China war could start in the South China Sea (2019).

What China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea means and what comes next (2019). On Wednesday, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarked that despite assurances that there would be no moves to militarize the South China Sea, China had built “10,000-foot runways, ammunition storage facilities” — and routinely deployed aviation and missile defense capabilities. U.S. naval vessels operating in East Asia report being shadowed and harassed by China’s maritime forces. The Royal Australian Navy flagship Canberra also reported a recent encounter in the South China Sea while trailed by a Chinese warship: Its helicopter pilots were hit with lasers from what appeared to be fishing vessels.

General

Conflict with China is not a clash of civilizations (2019). U.S. leaders can opt to present China as an implacable foe, its people and leadership cut from a different cloth, or they can choose to acknowledge the reality of China as a diverse and shifting milieu.

China: Who is Bigger and When (2019).

  • When will China pass the US in economic size? “The year 2030” is not a bad estimate, but so is “never.”
  • Claims that China’s economy is already the world’s largest may be exaggerated by up to 30 percent. They are also dubious because purchasing power parity often does not hold. National wealth is not well measured, either, but shows the American lead expanding.
  • The more popular belief that China is smaller than the US but will catch up soon is similarly unconvincing. Chinese government statistics are unreliable, since Beijing publishes sanitized data and many transactions may be close to worthless.
  • More important, projections of Chinese growth are sensitive to unjustified optimistic assumptions. Debt and aging indicate true Chinese growth is lower than reported, and low growth now could put off Chinese catch-up indefinitely.

Africa

Assessing the risks of China’s investments in Sub-Saharan Africa (2019)

Haven’t we done this before? Strategic competition in Sub-Saharan Africa (2019)

Europe The US is losing Europe in its battle with China (2019)

EU-China: A Strategic Outlook (2019)

Threat — Australia

Australia’s Pacific Pivot: Destiny, Duty, Desire (2019). One section of this argues that China’s growing military power is a threat to Australia

Is China using its South China Sea strategy in the South Pacific? (2019)  This article discusses China’s potential threat to Australia

Soft Power Answers

China’s Influence on the Pacific Islands: The Ying and Yang of Soft Power (2019). This monograph argues there are limits to China’s soft power. 

Arms Sales Pentagon fears growth in China’s arms market (2019).

This article simply says that China is selling more and more weapons to the Middle East. See also — China arms sales/fill-in bad bibliography