USA Is Wary Of China


The US Office of the Secretary of Defense Report released on Sep 2, 2020, is a 200-page document available free in PDF form, is named as Military and Security Developments Involving the Peoples Republic of China-2020, has been put to the world to see and probe as to what miracle China has become, militarily, apart from what economically it is.  US-China are locked-up in many conflicts as China has challenged the uni-polar super-power status of US, since 1989, when Soviet Union was broken. Interestingly, since the beginning of the year 2020, the two giants have accused each other for COVID-19 pandemic which has sent the whole world into a downward toil as millions all across the globe have lost their jobs and hundreds of thousands have lost their lives. This report assumes extreme importance, particularly for its timings, as China and US are embroiled in a conflict in South China Sea, where US has India, and more than half a dozen nations on its side, and China is equally involved in a border dispute with India along the Himalayas with Pakistan on its side. Both China and Pakistan are in collusion against India, as India’s PM Modi, brought them to be openly-together, after the annulment of the Article 370 which gave special status to JK& L on August 5, 2019.

The report is for the world to assuage the capabilities of China as to which missile-systems is China into developing, and quite proverbially it has blown the senses of ‘US and its allies’ alike. In its opening paragraph, the objective of the report has been defined, ‘The report shall address the current and probable future course of military-technological development of the People’s Liberation Army and the tenets and probable development of Chinese security strategy and military strategy, and of the military organizations and operational concepts supporting such development over the next 20 years. The report shall also address United States-China engagement and cooperation on security matters during the period covered by the report, including through United States-China military-to-military contacts, and the United States strategy for such engagement and cooperation in the future’( Page-3).  Clearly, the US establishment wants engagement and cooperation, and not conflict, with China.

The report almost in the very beginning acknowledges that China is already quite ahead to US. Indeed, as this report shows, ‘China is already ahead of the United States in certain areas such as Shipbuilding,  The Peoples Republic of China (PRC)  has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants. In comparison, the U.S. Navy’s battle force is approximately 293 ships as of early 2020, (in terms of ) Land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles -The PRC has more than 1,250 ground-launched ballistic missiles (GLBMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The United States currently fields one type of conventional GLBM with a range of 70 to 300 kilometers and no GLCMs. (In context to) Integrated air defense systems- The PRC has one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems-including Russian-built S-400s, S-300s, and domestically produced systems—that constitute part of its robust and redundant integrated air defense system architecture’, What has startled US is that China is at par and at times more excellent to US despite spending almost one-third of what US spends on its budget. ‘China’s official defense budget was $174 billion in 2019 compared to the US budget of about $685 billion 1.

This Department of Defense report is enough to make US realise the wherewithal of China’s position vis-à-vis to it. DoD  has clearly accredited that  ‘China is progressing with the development of missiles and electronic weapons that could target satellites in low and high orbits, China already has operational ground-based missiles that can hit satellites in low-Earth orbit and “probably intends to pursue additional Anti Satellite(ASAT)weapons capable of destroying satellites up to geosynchronous Earth orbit.  The Pentagon says Chinese military strategists regard the ability to use space-based systems and to deny them to adversaries as central to modern warfare. China for years has continued to “strengthen its military space capabilities despite its public stance against the militarization of space.  China has not publicly acknowledged the existence of any new anti-satellite weapons programs since it confirmed it used an ASAT missile to destroy a weather satellite in 2007, but the nation has been steadily advancing in this area.  Electronic weapons -such as satellite jammers, cyber capabilities and directed-energy weapons — also are part of China’s arsenal of counterspace systems’. The report further informs, ‘According to China’s military strategy, an adversary’s imaging, communications navigation and early warning satellites would be targeted in order to “blind and deafen the enemy,” ( Page-66).  Besides strengthening its anti-satellite weapons technology, China is advancing space capabilities across the board — in satellites, launch vehicles, sensors and lunar systems, all intended to help fulfill China’s long-term goal of becoming the world’s most powerful space power’ 2.

Hence, China is now to be in a position to destroy US low-and-high orbit satellites and even has the strength to destroy US weather satellite too, but China would never admit to it, what is adding more headache to US is that China is also into making direct-energy-weapons (DEW) which is a ranged weapon that damages its target with highly focused energy, including laser, microwaves and particle beams. Potential applications of this technology include weapons that target personnel, missiles, vehicles, and optical devices. These DEWs are to be the future warfare and India too has been assiduously pursing it and is also close to it.  India had got a ‘step closer to DEW as India’s DRDO has successfully tested laser- system’ was reported on June 14, 2018 in the Economic Times 3.

India is catching-up with China in its mountain, since May 2020, and this has also found a reference in the report. ‘Tensions with India persist along the northeastern border near the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China asserts is part of Tibet and therefore part of China, and near the Aksai Chin region at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau. Chinese and Indian patrols regularly encounter one another along the disputed border, and both sides often accuse one another of border incursions’ (Page-11). The report also put into focus that Chinese army ‘is additionally developing the capabilities and operational concepts to conduct offensive operations within the Second Island Chain, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and in some cases, globally’(Page-73). India, is therefore, closely following with US, in its pursuit of China and has allied with US in South China Sea where US intends to choke China in straits of Malacca from where the largest chunk of Chinese exports pass to reach to the world. But, in the wake of this report, it becomes clear that gone are the days of machineguns as now waves can be captured so as to paralyse the adversary.

The way US has been pursuing China in the past few months, in South China Sea, by stationing its aircraft carriers since July 4, 2020 4 which are governed and controlled through satellites, and if the conflicts aggravates further, then the possibility of China using its technology to destroy satellite-connection of US aircrafts cannot be ruled out, which of course, will result in a free-fall of them, or they may be controlled through electronic magnetic pulse technology of China. This is what all the report is firmly all about. Moreover, the fear lurking in US is that China has launched its own GPS system (i.e. Beidou) on June 24, 2020 5, hence, it is no more reliant on US, and is also forming new partners by way of distribution or finance and military-technology, which all will result in division of the world into-two parts. As through the advancement of technology to such heights, the maneuverability of US, to have turned the Iran missile to hit the Ukraine passenger plane 6 , is for the future researchers to find.

The apprehension in US is that unlike US which engages into fanfare and propaganda of its military might, China exercises a civilisational-silence over its military brilliance, and given the Chinese proximity with Pakistan, what if China transfers this technology to Pakistan, which probably would need it in the earnest, as already there are reports that Israel, armed with its F-35 stealth bombers, is making an intelligence-base on Socotra island of Yemen 7 , to keep an eye on Gwadar, Pakistan  where the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ends. The probability of China giving-technology to Pakistan is very high, as they call each-other all weather friends but will US or Israel also provide India the same technology to counter Pakistan and China, is for the time to see.

The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner. He writers on international politics.











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