The Bush administration is busy preparing for a possible military conflict with China.
April 19, 2006 10:01 PM   Subscribe

The Bush administration is busy preparing for a possible military conflict with China. "The most important strategic decision the United States will make in the next decade is not about Iraq, Iran or North Korea. It is about China. What will America's basic attitude be toward the rise of China? And similarly, the most important strategic decision that Beijing will make in the next decade is: how should it relate to the United States? Depending on whether the answer to these questions is 'cooperation' or 'confrontation', one can imagine two very different 21st centuries." The Bush administration's containment strategy for China may herald the next cold war. [via]
posted by kliuless (78 comments total)
The Bush administration's containment strategy for China may herald the next cold war.

...and the future of Hollywood movie villain stereotypes.
posted by deusdiabolus at 10:09 PM on April 19, 2006

If the Bush administration is planning it, it won't be a cold war. They don't exactly have a great record of showing discretion.
posted by banished at 10:11 PM on April 19, 2006

While publicly jostling with Beijing over its currency policies and lax copyright protections,

Taiwan? Whatever. But if you people put ONE EPISODE of Stargate SG-1 online, we're going to seriously jump right in the middle of your shit.
posted by swell at 10:14 PM on April 19, 2006

No it wont be a cold war, the cold war was based on ideological divides and was carried out largely by proxy. The 21st century clash between the USA and China will be between two great powers both seeking competitive advantage and prestige.

And, like, duh. This was predicted about two seconds after the collapse of the soviet union.

"Containment" cannot possibly work. China doesn't have any grand territorial ambitions beyond Taiwan, all it wants is to make money and have the resources to do so. It doesn't need a blue water navy or very long range bombing. How are you going to stop them makign money? Stop buying their stuff? *snort*
posted by wilful at 10:15 PM on April 19, 2006

...and the future of Hollywood movie villain stereotypes.

(shaking dice in hand) come on ROCKY VI !!
posted by Peter H at 10:16 PM on April 19, 2006

China and the US need to work together
On coming to office, Mr Bush singled out China as his biggest foreign policy concern. It was branded a "strategic competitor" in a calculated shift from Bill Clinton's hopes of turning Beijing into a "strategic partner". Relations took a dangerous nosedive when the Chinese forced down America's EP3 spyplane in a tense 10-day stand off.

The attacks on the twin towers a few weeks later changed many things, among them Washington's realisation that China's support would be indispensable in helping it defeat Islamist terrorist groups around the world...

There are many in the Bush administration who still view China's rise as an unalloyed threat to US interests. John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, recently de-scribed China as a "peer competitor". Perhaps the hawks are right in identifying Beijing's rapidly growing defence spending as evidence that it eventually plans to challenge US pre-eminence. Yet it is hard to imagine a satisfactory solution to any of Mr Bush's most pressing foreign policy challenges without involving China more effectively. Of these, the nuclear weapons programmes of Iran and North Korea top the list. On both, China has been lukewarm, neither opposing US objectives directly nor assisting them as much as it could. With North Korea, China fears instability in its backyard as much as it fears a nuclear Pyongyang. On Iran, China's priority is to secure energy supplies, which clashes with Washington's request for its support in threatening international sanctions. How China behaves will also have an impact on whether Mr Bush is able to strengthen US energy security.

These are just a sample of the areas where better US-China co-operation would be critical for the world. In that regard, Robert Zoellick, deputy secretary of state, has shown more savvy than some of his colleagues in appealing to China's better instincts to become a "responsible stakeholder" in the international system. As a Texan, Mr Bush will recall that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
not mentioned in the WSJ article, but certainly worth watching out for, are signs that japan is moving forward on normalizing, i.e. renouncing its 'peace constitution'. also, rather than setting up china as a "strategic competitor," another (more constructive) option might be for the US to engage (rather than contain) china in the pacific by bringing them into some kind of multilateral security framework -- to patrol the straits of malacca for instance -- if the US is so concerned about pacific security; and i think it'd be a more effective way to gauge china's intentions/military ambitions as well :P

posted by kliuless at 10:19 PM on April 19, 2006

(throws dice on table, examines) ah nuts ...RED DAWN II
posted by Peter H at 10:21 PM on April 19, 2006

You bid me make a farce of day,
And make a mockery of death;
While not five thousand miles away
The yellow millions pant for breath!
But heed me now, nor ask me this –
Lest you too late should wake to find
That hopeless patriotism is
The strongest passion in mankind!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:22 PM on April 19, 2006

Careful what you wish for, Peter H!
posted by muckster at 10:29 PM on April 19, 2006

I thought every US administration had plans for conflicts with every country on the earth.
posted by PenDevil at 10:34 PM on April 19, 2006

Everyone wants to go to Baghdad
Real men want to go to Tehran.
posted by NewBornHippy at 10:39 PM on April 19, 2006

whatever. china needs our consumer markets to hawk their shit and we need them to keep floating a huge chunk of out debt. Untill we get out of debt (HAW HAW) or the rest of the world catched the "buy lots of shit you don't need" bug, things will be fine. Antsy maybe, but stable.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 10:59 PM on April 19, 2006

China will play nice until the the Beijing Olympics are over. After that, all bet's are off.
posted by quadog at 11:26 PM on April 19, 2006

The articles are interesting in part because it almost assumes on the reader's behalf that a uni-polar world is the natural order of things and good for everyone. Australia is referenced extensively in the second article as an us versus them proposition. Actually, we'd much rather not take sides, happy to sell you our energy and minerals and buy your useless crap whether you're American or Chinese. And if I was a US taxpayer (heaven forbid) I'd ask what tangible benefit comes from trying to suppress China (particularly since it will eventually fail) versus the enormous ongoing costs of the effort.
posted by wilful at 11:40 PM on April 19, 2006

Economically and 'philosophically' the two countries are very similar now. There's really no ideological reason for the two countries to have an offensive posture too each other. The fact that we both have nuclear weapons means, IMO, that it's very unlikely we'd ever see any sort of direct confrontation. The amount of business we do together means that any sort of cold-war scenario is unlikely.

The Chinese are also starting to do better with environmental responsibility and government accountability.
posted by delmoi at 12:54 AM on April 20, 2006

It's the corporation stupid.
Mitsubishi and Krups survived world war 2, the Japanese and German governments did not.
The full weight of the U.S. justice department applied for 30 years couldn't dislodge the mafia from Las Vegas, corporations did it handily in 15 years.
The Bush administration is preparing to take instructions from the most powerful corporate interests.
As are all administrations more or less, sooner than later.
♯ "I'd like to buy the world a....♯
posted by vapidave at 1:11 AM on April 20, 2006

PenDevil I thought every US administration had plans for conflicts with every country on the earth.

Yes, but never before has one been dumb enough to TRY conflicts with every country on the earth.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:37 AM on April 20, 2006

The Chinese are also starting to do better with environmental responsibility

Not from where I'm standing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:55 AM on April 20, 2006

Yes, but never before has one been dumb enough to TRY conflicts with every country on the earth.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:37 AM PST on April 20 [!]

Iraq + Afghanistan = every country on earth?
posted by b_thinky at 2:03 AM on April 20, 2006

government accountability

Accountable to whom? Certainly not to the Chinese people. China is constructing the new fascism, which may very well be a viable 'third way' in the decades ahead: economic prosperity and material comfort at the expense of political and civil rights.

According to our Western model, of course, encouraging prosperity in a dictatorship is planting the seeds of its downfall, as the theory goes that people with economic power grow violently discontent if they lack a similar amount of political power. But considering the varied means of control that the modern state has as its disposal, and the unwillingness of the Western democracies to exert any sort of pressure on China that might disrupt the flow of cheap goods, I have to wonder if that will hold true here. Even if it did, political destabilization within the borders of a nuclear power is never pleasant to contemplate.

PenDevil seems to be correct, in that the articles don't reveal anything except that we have a strategy for dealing militarily with China, as we do every other nation in the world, that we want to maintain the status quo in regard to Taiwan, etc.

We won't see any sort of break with China, because business conservatives who have transcended the notion of patriotism have long since captured the GOP. The same could be said of the Democrats unless they're willing to put the self-destructive 'New Democrat' moment behind them. If there's virtue of dictatorships that our modern degenerated democracies will never possess, it is this: they're willing to compel corporate power to bow the national interest, rather than vice versa.
posted by Makoto at 3:22 AM on April 20, 2006

re: government accountability, i thought this was an interesting exchange
MINXIN PEI: I was in China about three weeks ago, and I found something which was truly amazing. I went to see, a much criticized Web site. And what I found was that Google has introduced a revolutionary technology of translating English into Chinese instantly with about 75 to 85 percent of accuracy.

And that opens a huge new world of information to the non-English-speaking Chinese public.

GWEN IFILL: So you're saying that the things that you can get from these companies' presence there outweigh the things that you can't get?

MINXIN PEI: On balance, I would agree. I think that Google, in the ideal world, should not have caved in to the Chinese government's demand, but by being there, they are allowing more Chinese to have access to more information. And in the long run, such information will undermine the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party.

GWEN IFILL: Well, let's talk about this for a moment, because I'm curious then whether one leads to the other. If, indeed, just the very presence of these forces in an intranet, as Orville Schell described it within China, is an improvement, then does that next lead to what many U.S. leaders would like to see, which is reform on other issues, currency, human rights?

MINXIN PEI: I think the Internet has not led to a direct challenge to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party, but it has led to direct challenges to specific public policies of the Chinese government. And I'd cite two examples.

The Chinese health care system is a scandal. Two-thirds of the population do not have any form of insurance. And that discussion is now very hot on the Chinese Web sites, and that discussion has also forced the Chinese government to acknowledge its failure in that crucial area.

Another example is mining accidents. Thousands of miners in China die every year. And now, each time there's a big mining accident, the Internet would spread the news very quickly so the government cannot hide the news. And that mobilizes public opinion against the government.

And now the government is shutting down very dangerous small mines, so democracy, not yet, but more accountable government, perhaps. We have some signs of progress, very tentative.
re: the military industrial complex, even china agrees :P from the WSJ: "Beijing's ambassador to Washington, Zhou Wenzhong, ... suggests that his country has emerged as America's next menace largely because the U.S. defense industry 'needs more orders.' " china wants those orders!
posted by kliuless at 4:09 AM on April 20, 2006

"The Sources of Soviet Conduct".

poor George Kennan is laughing is ghostly ass off
posted by matteo at 4:22 AM on April 20, 2006

his ghostly ass
posted by matteo at 4:27 AM on April 20, 2006

A few things to keep in mind here when examining China and the United States in the next fifty years. Foremost is that I agree with the comment above about "a war for prestige" in the 21st century.

Second, the United States has war plans for every possible contingency around the world. I, for one, welcome the fact that we have the resources to be able to think ahead and plan like this as it is only prudent to do so.

Third, For those who argue that China is a 'benign' threat - that it only wants economc prosperity and a slow loosening of state controls over its populace I say: yeeeeeah, right. While I don't necessarily consider them an "evil empire", I do consider China a very very active threat for one key, crucial item: raw materials.

The clash will come between the US and China not over Taiwan, not over political beliefs, but over resources and resource control. This is why it is absolutely imperative that America uses its comparative advantage's advantage. That being innovation and education. This is where I think the current administration is being woefully negligent. America is no longerthe manufacturing powerhouse of the planet, that is China who manufactures something like 60% of everything these days (if memory serves me correctly).

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that if the US wants to maintain its position it is going to require a massive investment in the United States itself. It's also going to require that the US stop spending political, emotional and financial capital on ridiculous peripheral debates such as on stem cell research, evolution versus creationism, 'faith based initiatives' and the biggest boon-doggle of them all: the Iraq war. All of these issues detract from the need for America to have serious debates, not disingenuous 'values arguements' about things that will maintain America's competitive advantage.

Oh, China is a great threat, but with any luck this country will pull its head out of its ass and realize that the China Threat is actually an opportunity to reinvent the United States and make it better. Call me blue boy, I'll be the guy in the corner holding his breath.....
posted by tgrundke at 4:49 AM on April 20, 2006

Well if it comes to USA vs. China I'm going to root for China, 4-3. No penalties. The USA are about to score a fourth goal but the referee whistles, the end!

Oh you mean this is not about the World Cup? Just another machomilitary fantasy with the US in the leading role only this time it's 1 billion people from the strongest growing economy on the other side? Hahaha, thanks, great laugh.
posted by funambulist at 4:52 AM on April 20, 2006



As China industrializes, it needs more and more oil. Their increased demand is helping to drive up the price of oil for years to come.

"Houston, I think we have a problem."
posted by bim at 5:40 AM on April 20, 2006

Yeah! We'll take on all you bitches!

But really, doesn't China just have to drop all of its investments in the dollar and we're dead in the water?
posted by fungible at 5:40 AM on April 20, 2006

China will take Taiwan in December of 2008 at the time of the lame duck presidency and after the 2008 Olympics. America will wag its finger and say, "Bad China."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:51 AM on April 20, 2006

Robert Kaplan's "How We Would Fight China" (subscriber link), from the June 2005 Atlantic, which The Pentagon's New Map author Thomas Barnett described as a "strategic lap dance for the U.S. Navy and Pacific Command."

Up to a fifth of China's population is learning English (or up to ~260,000,000 people) .
posted by kirkaracha at 5:55 AM on April 20, 2006

I just spent a whole semester working on China. The neocons see China as the heir-apparent to Russia, both as the new boogeyman militarily and as a competitor for natural resources. Yes to the second, no to the first. They're hedging their bets by locking up deals with little pissant countries with oil, planning for the long haul. Taiwan is China's - if push comes to shove, we'll look the other way - we can't afford to get involved.

Also, the Chinese are WAY smarter than this administration - that's why I suspect Hu met with Bill Gates before W - or when travelling from China to the US it's more convenient.
That's a deliberate snub - so long as the Chinese have the American consumer by the taint with cheap products and low interest rates and business by the balls with the promise of lower cost of business, both will keep the administration from doing anything more than sabre rattling.

The "liberal optimists" (ie. business) who see China as an untapped market will overpower the realist pessimists (ie. neocons) who see China as a threat. But, those same businesses will suffer regarding intellectual property - note that GM's partner is going to start making their own branded cars, and Lenovo is dropping the IBM name sooner than anticipated. Business has been trying to get into China since the 1840s - they're going to be closed to us, or at least very limited until their gov't opens up.
posted by rzklkng at 6:01 AM on April 20, 2006

In my view there will come about a situation not unlike the Cold War, in which China will exercise virtual control over its sphere--Japan, Korea, Australia etc--and the US, over the rest. The world will be devided into two major spheres. But since each major player knows the devestation the other is capable of inflicting, there will be some restraint. Trade wars and oil conflicts will be the non-letal battlegrounds.
posted by Postroad at 6:21 AM on April 20, 2006

But if China does move to challenge the U.S., then the military wants to be ready.


PenDevil wrote:I thought every US administration had plans for conflicts with every country on the earth.

Good point. Would anyone want our defence/military strategists to do otherwise?

Tryptophan-5ht wrote:...things will be fine. Antsy maybe, but stable.

posted by sluglicker at 6:26 AM on April 20, 2006

ok, maybe the U.S. can ignore this country.
posted by sluglicker at 6:30 AM on April 20, 2006

I look at the WSJ chart comparing China vs USA defense spending and all the hand-wringing, and LOL (China spends %6 of what the US spends each year on defense).
posted by stbalbach at 6:33 AM on April 20, 2006

Oh, and the neocons in the PNAC document (Rebuilding Americas Defenses - PDF) stated that they wanted 2/3 of our carrier fleets sent to the Pacific Rim. If that happens, don't be suprised if an armed confrontation, like the summer war games of 2-years ago (China/US) , or the mammoth wargame planned for this summer, ends up with a destructive attack that gives them their "next Pearl Harbor" and another "War on ________" without end (ie. the new cold war).

Links of Note:
PNAC on East Asia
Chinese Balance Sheet (booksite and first chapter - PDF)
How China will Change your Business - Inc. Magazine
Cycle of Co-Dependency: Economic Relationship between China and the US (PDF)

To be clear, I'm not saying China won't be a threat in the future, but I think the neocons twisted perspective on American hegemony is causing them to reach conclusions and see threats which the facts don't support.
posted by rzklkng at 6:37 AM on April 20, 2006

China's not going to need to take Taiwan militarily. The CCP has been having all sorts of cross-strait exchanges with the KMT in Taiwan. These meetings have been fairly positively received by the Taiwanese people, even though the CCP has been talking with the loser of the 2004 presidential election. The mostly likely scenario is that Ma Ying-Jeou, the highly popular forerunner for the KMT nomination, will spank whatever sorry-ass candidate the scandal-ridden DPP comes up with in early 2008. Then in 2009 or 2010, the KMT and the CCP will negotiate some sort of deal which brings much closer economic ties (direct flights, finally!) while on the political side not forfeiting Taiwan's sovereignty for the time being but nonetheless forever eliminating the possibility of de jure independence.

All bets are off if the KMT somehow screws up mightily (again) and another DPP candidate is elected. Which would be absolutely breathtaking, since the current president of Taiwan, Chen Shui-Bian, is currently even more unpopular than Dubya.
posted by alidarbac at 6:38 AM on April 20, 2006

Non Sequitiur via Kottke:
Hu's on First
posted November 22, 2002 at 09:17 am

By James Sherman
(We take you now to the Oval Office.)

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?

Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.

George: Great. Lay it on me.

Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.

George: That's what I want to know.

Condi: That's what I'm telling you.

George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes.

George: I mean the fellow's name.

Condi: Hu.

George: The guy in China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The new leader of China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The Chinaman!

Condi: Hu is leading China.

George: Now whaddya' asking me for?

Condi: I'm telling you Hu is leading China.

George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?

Condi: That's the man's name.

George: That's who's name?

Condi: Yes.

George: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the
Middle East.

Condi: That's correct.

George: Then who is in China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir is in China?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Then who is?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.

Condi: Kofi?

George: No, thanks.

Condi: You want Kofi?

George: No.

Condi: You don't want Kofi.

George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi?

George: Milk! Will you please make the call?

Condi: And call who?

George: Who is the guy at the U.N?

Condi: Hu is the guy in China.

George: Will you stay out of China?!

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi.

George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.

(Condi picks up the phone.)

Condi: Rice, here.

George: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too. Maybe we
should send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you
get Chinese food in the Middle East?
posted by rzklkng at 7:13 AM on April 20, 2006

China owns the US. They prop up our absurd debt infrastructure and provide us will all the cheap plastic shit that we buy at Wal-Mart.

Conflict with China? Ridiculous. We ARE China.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:17 AM on April 20, 2006

US is to China as the Eloi are to the Morlocks. It's in the best interest of the latter that the former don't know that they're being secretly consumed in the dead of night.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:45 AM on April 20, 2006

China wants to extend its sphere of influence over East Asia, but at the most successful, this will only encompass Korea (both) and perhaps some of the nations of Southeast Asia, like Cambodia and Laos. Japan will never allow itself to be placed in an inferior position, especially when it has the United States to sit on its side of the table. Vietnam, again, fought a month long war with China in 1979. The Vietnamese have no love for China with a history of such that goes back hundreds of years, despite an overflow of Chinese culture into the country.

The more powerful China grows, the more other nations will seek to pull in the United States as a balancing agent. India will also play a role in this, but to a lesser degree (nations would probably prefer that their balance of power pal come from across the Pacific, not from a neighboring land mass).

Look for closer ties with Mongolia and Vietnam, and attempted ties with Central Asian nations (currently in the middle of a tug of war...The Great Game take Two!). China will establish a blue water navy that can compete against the American navy, at least in the Asian Pacific realm. They also will want ships that can protect shipping lanes (I.E. oil tankers, etc). Also remember, Taiwan is a hundred miles off shore from the Chinese mainland, coastal craft don't exactly meet the criteria.

As for Taiwan, its a difficult situation. One possibility is that as China presents a far more modern and capitalistic face, in which a Taiwanese citizen can relate to through cultural exchanges (like television or movies), the less alien and less an enemy the mainland neighbor will appear. As someone mentioned, expect more economic ties. China is not in a rush to take Taiwan by military force, not when they can overcome through economic mergence over a longer period. Eventually, a day will come when passports will not be needed for travel between the two nations, and quite possibly, the people of Taiwan may even vote to become part of the People's Republic.

The only hinge is the strength of the independence movement within Taiwan. Though strong earlier this decade, over the past couple years, it has not seemed to be as popular. What China should avoid is the issuing of threats. The more China postures towards Taiwan, the more likely its people are to resist the idea of any type of reconciliation.

Regardless, it is a very interesting time to watch China. Perhaps after 2008, or sometime later, the Communist leadership is going to face a breaking point where they will have to allow a significant developement of civil liberty or crack down hard. This will grow even more so as developement moves inland and the Chinese people become more aware of each other and actions which represent some form of protest against the government.

We'll save the dangers of Chinese Nationalism for the next link. For now, grab some popcorn and enjoy the ride.
posted by Atreides at 7:56 AM on April 20, 2006

The signal to noise ratio in this thread is great.
posted by kensanway at 8:42 AM on April 20, 2006

I'm a musician, and I noticed a while back that Gretsch guitars are now made in China. The iconic instrument of American rockabilly / country. China!

Of course part of that is due to cheaper labor and machining costs over there, but part of it is also due to the Chinese buying up American companies and then selling what previously used to be our own products back to us.

As mentioned many times above, China is well on its way to owning the US, by lending us absurd amounts of money to further our imperialistic ambitions. We are borrowing money from them at a terrifying rate. All of a sudden Bill Gates is hanging out with the Chinese president.

But the laugh will be on us when they call in their chips.
posted by Nicholas West at 8:43 AM on April 20, 2006

From the article:

[Beijing's ambassador] suggests that his country has emerged as America's next menace largely because the U.S. defense industry "needs more orders."

That strikes me as the most insightful analysis of this situation.
posted by gsteff at 8:52 AM on April 20, 2006

But the laugh will be on us when they call in their chips.

The laugh will be on both of us if they decide to call in their chips.

On a related topic- China has and will continue to produce tens of millions of young men of military age who can never hope to find women.

Draw your own conclusions.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2006

It seems that China is preparing for a war with the US, too. And I think they have been up to it for quite some time.
posted by scottj at 10:00 AM on April 20, 2006

Yes, I think that is a fairly serious threat, because there will come a time when they will have sufficiently ramped up technologically and financially to have the confidence to directly challenge us in military terms, and might not be shy about doing it.

Not to mention a vast population, which, if focussed into a disciplined and positive-thinking military force, could vanquish any country on earth.
posted by Nicholas West at 10:23 AM on April 20, 2006

Sabre rattling against china was Bushes pre-911 schtick, I guess he thinks fear-of-terrorists isn't enough for us anymore.
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on April 20, 2006

There's also the theory that all Mid-East intervention by the U.S. is really just long game vs. China via control of oil reserves. How much of this has really been driving policy for some time now?

That being said, nations who use the military to fight their trade wars deserve what they get. China is the "enemy" because they're competing for resources? Unless starvation is the result, this justifies nothing. No bombs for barcoloungers.

I've been reading a lot about that, IndigoJones. Certainly in China's interest to keep all of that frustration and aggression focused on some external foe.
posted by dreamsign at 11:00 AM on April 20, 2006

"Not to mention a vast population, which, if focussed into a disciplined and positive-thinking military force, could vanquish any country on earth."

Yeah, can you imagine? They can probably raise an army of 100 million men 18-32 as infantry very rapidly - 10,000 divisions, roughly. With that many people, you don't even need to arm them all that well... just march them across whatever area they want to capture in waves and waves and waves. Whoever they're fighting will run out soldiers long before they do.

And of course, they can walk to the oil, can't they. What was that about land war in Asia?

But I don't think they will. I think economic warfare may be enough for them, a different kind of economic warfare than we used against the Soviets of course.

And they're sure going whole-hog after space, too. That's a big deal.

I think we should work on cooperating, not competing... but people have big stupid egos, so I'm not too optimistic at this point.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2006

100 million man army? Are you insane? The logisitics alone would cripple any economy and furthermore, manpower alone does not win a war. Mass bombings and N/B/C warfare would decimate a poorly armed and trained army like that.
posted by clockworkjoe at 11:53 AM on April 20, 2006

It would be super awesome if the 49th parallel were also a geological fault line that would like, you know, neatly crack from one coast to the other and separate the USA from Canada, allowing us to push it safely away from us.
posted by zarah at 11:54 AM on April 20, 2006

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:59 AM on April 20, 2006

Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:21 PM on April 20, 2006

clockworkjoe, yeah, that was hyperbole. But how big is their army right now?
posted by zoogleplex at 1:28 PM on April 20, 2006

Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.

Oh right, sorry.


posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:33 PM on April 20, 2006

Zoogleplex, I think they've reduced their standing army down from around 7 to 8 million to about 3 to 4 million.

In terms of warfare with the U.S., one of the principle strategies of the People's Liberation Army is to research and implement plans that make up for the deficit in technology. They'll seek to identify weak points in the American military's current system and exploit them. They began this procedure after watching the U.S. demolish the Iraqi Army in the First Gulf War.
posted by Atreides at 1:49 PM on April 20, 2006

They'll seek to identify weak points in the American military's current system and exploit them.

This is one of those statements that sound very scary but actually make no sense. Of course they will, as has every opposing military we have ever faced and will ever face. We'll do the same. And although there's undoubtedly plenty of waste and fraud in our military budget, if crisis ever arose, I'd bet on the engineers at Lockheed Martin before I'd bet on the ones building China's army. Our military does a lot of stuff wrong, but do not underestimate our ability to blow stuff up.

And relative #'s of soldiers seem pretty meaningless to me. Our military isn't powerful because we have tons of soldiers, or even because they're stupdendously well trained. Its powerful because we pay lots of really smart geeks to build lots of really fancy weapons for us. A 10 million man army isn't necessarily that scary; there's plenty of reasons why it could be considered a weakness.
posted by gsteff at 2:03 PM on April 20, 2006

To clarify my statement, rather than even attempt to compete against the American military on even terms (which they don't forsee for at least a couple decades), in the event of conflict, they will seek to attack assymetrical. The opposite of this was the Iraqi Army in '91. They will attempt to knock out command centers and disable communication hubs. Basically, bring the U.S. military down to its level and disorganize its level of operations.

You can go on and on about how "thats an obvious" expectation, but in the details is where it counts. Since I can't provide much more in those details, I'll point to a good academic source, Chinese Warfighting: The PLA Experience Since 1949 by Mark Ryan, David Finkelstein, and Michael McDevitt. Its composed of a series of essays on the PLA from 1949 to the present day, written by both academic and military scholars (staff of the War Colleges).

As a note, I agree, I'd hope that our guys have properly taken into account such contingencies.
posted by Atreides at 2:26 PM on April 20, 2006

I think it’d be similar to a boxer vs. wrestler.
We can’t take and hold ground in China (or rather, we can, but it’d be too costly). Nor can the Chinese land on American soil. Apart from the horrendous guerilla war, they wouldn’t get any supplies. The U.S. Navy is going to be unchallenged for quite some time.
Any war between us would be a real pain in the ass. What are the parameters for victory?
They’re too big and tough, we’re too far and too strong. They do too much damage to us in winning and their economy doesn’t recover until - say - a unified Europe takes over world leadership. We can level their infrastructure, but unless we engage in wholesale slaughter, we’re not going to stop them from recovering, and occupation isn’t on the table for anyone who studies history.
I don’t think either side would stand to gain in anything short of total victory and that’s not going to happen.
Unfortunately I think it’s a real possibility we might tangle.

Wuz I China I’d invade Canada or Mexico and sit there for about 50 years. Or back Venezuela to give us some real problems. But any incursion into this hemisphere is going to be seen as an invasion and encroachment on U.S. interests. Even into - whatchacallit Chavez’s country. Argentina, yeah.

/yes that’s sarcasm.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:28 PM on April 20, 2006

Agnes would probably agree with ya.

Then again, she'd probably cry over the China of today.
posted by Atreides at 2:39 PM on April 20, 2006

"They will attempt to knock out command centers and disable communication hubs. Basically, bring the U.S. military down to its level and disorganize its level of operations."

And isn't the "Sunburn" anti-shipping missile, which there's some concern about as regards Iran, a Chinese weapon? Of which they presumably have a respectable number of? From what I've read, it seems to be highly sophisticated and specifically designed to attack US Navy vessels - air-launched from over-the-horizon, very high Mach speed, very low-altitude flight pattern, etc.

That would worry me some if I was a Carrier Task Force commander.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:53 PM on April 20, 2006

It's Russian, but China and Iran have some. Scary stuff.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:59 PM on April 20, 2006

Why did the MFA suddenly start relaxing security at presidential apprearances? Today's slip-up, (and ease-of-access/maximum visibility location) seems planned for maximum effect for the viewing pleasure of USAians. (Oddly CNN states that Chinese TV cut the protester out of their delayed broadcast).

Remember the carefully selected audiences? What happended to herding protesters into "free" speech zones? The mass arrests at the NYC RNC and elsewhere?

More importantly: who have we bushaters prepared to now commence protesting in an articulate manner? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Is it all blogs and podcasts now? Are the liberal elite content to let the bozos and anarchists proceed with sophomoric attempts further cementing the belief that mass protest is verboten? Or is someone gonna start something effective?
posted by HyperBlue at 5:01 PM on April 20, 2006

I'm sure China would prefer to prosper by peaceful means, but a nation's gotta do what a nation's gotta do. Still, as above, the western hemisphere is a pretty tough nut, especially when there are easier pickings closer to home. My own guess is that Siberia will be getting a few Chinese offers it cannot refuse in the years to come. Question then is, will Russia roll over or get all huffy. And if she does, will anyone really want to get involved.

Of course, people frequently go to war for pretty junior high kinds of reasons, so who knows?

Dreamsign- I would be grateful for reading suggestions.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:01 PM on April 20, 2006

The edge the U.S. Navy has is integration and command and control.
The operations and support on the Aegis weapon system alone is $22 billion.
And even our non-Aegis ships are getting automatic defense systems.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:02 PM on April 20, 2006

I like Vonnegut's take, where the Chinese miniaturise themselves and invade via microbial warfare.
posted by Sparx at 5:18 PM on April 20, 2006

Why did the MFA suddenly start relaxing security at presidential apprearances? Today's slip-up, (and ease-of-access/maximum visibility location) seems planned for maximum effect for the viewing pleasure of USAians.

I thougt the same thing, Hyperblue. Looked very stagey. And look at Drudge cream.
posted by telstar at 7:23 PM on April 20, 2006

PinkStainlessTail: You missed a Lebowski reference.
posted by dhartung at 8:21 PM on April 20, 2006

Do people here think the heckler today at the press conference was allowed to get in to embarass Hu? I would doubt it, but either way it was a terrible gaffe and the Chinese surely thought it was intentional.
posted by cell divide at 8:25 PM on April 20, 2006

Mackin said she [Wenyi Wang] had gained access to the event with a temporary White House press pass after applying through the National Security Council press office as a reporter for the Falun Gong-affiliated newspaper, The Epoch Times.

Interesting that a Falun Gong reporter shows up on the guest list at a US-China premier state event at the White House, no? Knowing how tightly the Bush team script Bubble Boy's events, I smell a rat. Plenty of Bush's base are rabid anti-communists and I'm suspecting they got a wild hair and just couldn't pass up an opportunity.
posted by telstar at 10:23 PM on April 20, 2006

Hyperblue, Telstar, et. al., this definitely was not an innocent accident. The also refered to the Peoples Republic of China as "the Republic of China", which is the name for Taiwan.
posted by rzklkng at 5:24 AM on April 21, 2006

Hyperblue, Telstar, et. al., this definitely was not an innocent accident. The also refered to the Peoples Republic of China as "the Republic of China", which is the name for Taiwan.

If the protester bit was planned, that's pretty cool. Goes to show that state department, at least, is still capable of occasional moments of professionalism.
posted by gsteff at 10:35 AM on April 21, 2006

I hope we're not characterizing the Falun Gong protestor as a bozo or anarchist (not that I think those are equivalent accusations). It's so seldom that anyone's voice even gets heard in these kinds of environments that I was quite pleased that a 100% artificially rosy visit couldn't be arranged. Oh, and she got press credentials. What are they going to do -- give her an ideological screening?

IndigoJones -- I was handed a few articles by a coworker, and those were print copies. A search for China+sex-ratio yields lots of material, just weed out the chaff.
posted by dreamsign at 3:12 PM on April 21, 2006

Rightio. Many thanks, dreamsign
posted by IndigoJones at 2:10 PM on April 22, 2006

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