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07/22/2004

China's Military Power, Part II

Last week I excerpted from an important Defense Department
report on China’s military power. This time the focus is
primarily on the mainland’s relationship with Taiwan.

---

Preventing further steps by Taiwan toward permanent separation
from the mainland and securing eventual resolution of the
Taiwan issue on China’s terms are priority security concerns for
Beijing. China’s leaders consider Taiwan’s integration under
mainland authority an essential step toward completing “national
reunification” following reversions of Hong Kong and Macao in
1997 and 1999, respectively. While there is no apparent timeline
to resolve the Taiwan issue, no Chinese leader would want to be
saddled with responsibility for “losing” Taiwan. Many Chinese
strategists and analysts view Taiwan as occupying a critical
geostrategic location whose control would enable the PLA
(People’s Liberation Army) Navy to move its maritime defensive
perimeter further seaward and improve Beijing’s ability to
influence regional sea lines of communication. Alternatively,
according to some observers, permanent separation of Taiwan
from the mainland would constrain China’s ability to project
power and provide the United States with a strategic foothold
adjacent China’s coastal economic centers.

The Taiwan issue has taken on a greater sense of urgency in
recent years, especially because of the election of Taiwan
President Chen Shui-bian, from the traditionally independence-
leaning Democratic Progressive Party in 2000, and Beijing’s
concerns that improvements in U.S. defense and security
assistance to Taiwan will strengthen Taiwan’s ability to resist
mainland coercion.

Beijing is concerned about Chen’s decision to proceed with a
“defensive” referendum to address the growing missile threat
from the mainland as part of the ballot during the March 2004
presidential election, as well as the Kuomintang-dominated
opposition Pan-Blue camp’s perceived abandonment of
“reunification” as the inevitable course for the future of Taiwan.
These concerns have been reinforced following Chen’s victory in
the hotly contested March 2004 Taiwan Presidential election and
stated plans to revise the island’s constitution – an act which
some mainland commentators have characterized as a “timeline”
for Taiwan independence.

Consequently, the focus of China’s short-and medium-term
conventional modernization efforts has been to prepare for
military contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, to include scenarios
involving U.S. military intervention. Potential conflict scenarios
dictate a PLA emphasis on acquiring air, sea, and missile
systems to overwhelm Taiwan defenses and defeat the Taiwan
military and the political leadership’s will to resist, to counter,
delay, or raise the costs of effective U.S. military intervention.
These military modernization goals and priorities support
China’s overall political strategy toward Taiwan, which is
fundamentally coercive, by enabling Beijing to portray an
increasingly credible military threat to Taiwan as a backstop to
nonmilitary efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and pressure
Chen to resume dialogue based on the “one-China” principle .

Beijing believes U.S. intervention in conflict scenarios involving
China, such as Taiwan and the South China Sea, is increasingly
likely. Authoritative commentary and speeches by senior
officials suggest that U.S. actions over the past decade, to include
the NATO Operation Allied Force, have reinforced fears within
the Chinese leadership that the United States would appeal to
human rights and humanitarian concerns to intervene, either
overtly or covertly, in any internal dispute with ethnic Tibetan or
predominantly Muslim Uighur minorities. China’s leaders
recognize that China will not be able to engage in direct military
competition with the United States for the foreseeable future,
giving rise to a priority emphasis in the military modernization
program on preventing effective intervention by superior U.S.
forces in the first instance. This emphasis involves using
asymmetric solutions to blunt U.S. intervention or deny access to
the theater of operations, including development of so-called
“assassin’s mace” (shashoujian) and “trump card” weapons.

-Developing “assassin’s mace” weapons is not a new concept in
China. However, since 1999 the term has appeared more
frequently in Chinese professional journals, particularly in the
context of fighting the United States in a Taiwan conflict. What
actually classifies as an “assassin’s mace” weapon is unclear.
However, the concept appears to include a range of weapon
systems and technologies related to information warfare, ballistic
and antiship cruise missiles, advanced fighters and submarines,
counterspace systems, and air defense.

-The Chinese concept of “trump care” weapons extends beyond
specific systems and technology to include nontangibles such as
“people’s war” as a deterrent to a land invasion of China or
“economic and trade diplomacy” as increasing China’s
competitiveness with the United States in the Asia-Pacific
region.

---

Chinese military writings prescribe use of deception at the
campaign level to achieve maximum surprise and therefore
reduce warning time. Campaign deception is military deception
implemented under the unified leadership of campaign
commanders to achieve campaign goals and falls between
strategic and tactical deception. This type of deception can be
accomplished through camouflage, feints, and simulation. PLA
writings affirm the belief that a surprise attack can determine the
success or failure of a campaign. However, surprise in an attack
cannot ensure the favorable outcome of a war. In the Chinese
view, using surprise attacks to launch a war plays an important
role in seizing the initiative during the initial phase of a conflict.
To achieve surprise, a campaign or battle must meet two basic
conditions: “swift action” and “hidden undertakings,” with the
latter the denial and deception measures the Chinese would
employ to achieve tactical surprise on the battlefield.

---

China’s recent economic efforts have more than made up for the
self-imposed catastrophes of the Mao era and are diminishing the
advantages enjoyed by Taiwan and its economic successes since
the 1960s. Chinese diplomatic pressure has left the island bereft
of allies willing to help defend it from China. Beijing’s military
modernization program is eroding the spatial, temporal, and
distance challenges that historically inhibited using force against
Taiwan.

After close to 20 years of spectacular economic growth in China,
Beijing’s diplomatic successes, and steady improvement in the
PLA’s military capabilities, the cross-Strait pursuit of a peaceful
unification, Beijing has refused to renounce use of force against
Taiwan and has listed several circumstances under which it
would take up arms against the island. These include a formal
declaration of independence by Taipei, foreign intervention in
Taiwan’s internal affairs, indefinite delays in resumption of
cross-Strait dialogue, Taiwan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons,
and internal unrest on Taiwan. These statements, and China’s
ambitious military modernization program, may reflect an
increasing willingness to consider use of force to achieve
unification.

While internal debate over how to respond to Taiwan has ebbed
and flowed in recent years, Beijing still has a political strategy
for unification with a military component, not a military strategy
with a political component. Its longstanding approach to
resolving the cross-Strait standoff is multifaceted, integrating
political, economic, cultural, and military strategies to exert all of
its national power to dissuade Taiwan against ever crossing any
red lines and ultimately to accept Beijing’s terms. Since Chen’s
March 2004 reelection, Beijing likely has launched an internal
debate to assess whether its previous strategy of isolating him by
expanding contacts with political and economic elites on Taiwan
– who traditionally have held more favorable views toward
unification – needs to be discarded in favor of a different mix of
political, economic, and diplomatic carrots and sticks.

What does not appear to be in question among China’s senior
leaders is their belief in the need to maintain a credible potential
to deliver swift and decisive military force against Taiwan as an
essential element of Beijing’s strategy. The credible threat of
military force must complement political, economic, and cultural
coercion for the entire strategy to succeed. However much China
does not wish to attack Taiwan, it needs to be prepared to do so
for the nonmilitary components of its strategy to be sufficiently
persuasive. China’s military options take into account its
resource challenges and Taiwan’s comparative weaknesses.

---

Taipei’s military challenges are not lost on Beijing. The island’s
apparent lack of political consensus over addressing them with
substantially increased defense spending is undoubtedly seen as
an encouraging trend in Beijing. If successful, PLA
modernization will threaten that Taiwan autonomy by enabling
Beijing to launch a devastating standoff attack with insufficient
warning time for foreign forces to mobilize and deploy to aid
Taiwan .

The PLA’s offensive capabilities improve each year and provide
Beijing with an increasing number of credible options to
intimidate or actually attack Taiwan. China’s primary goal in
acquiring this force most likely is to compel Taipei’s
acquiescence to a negotiated solution by promising swift and
effective retaliation if it does not. Such force therefore would
need to be capable of achieving a rapid collapse of Taiwan’s
national will and thereby preclude U.S. intervention. The
specific coercive military strategy that Beijing would adopt is
unclear but is likely to include some combination of the options
specified below. A coercive campaign may seek to deter or
punish Taiwan through sudden application of violence. China
may choose gradually to escalate the level of military pressure to
compel Taiwan’s political leadership to adopt policies favorable
to Beijing’s interests. On the other hand, Beijing may seek to
deny Taiwan’s military its ability to resist, thereby convincing
the leadership to cease resistance. The PLA also could adopt a
decapitation strategy, seeking to neutralize Taiwan’s political
and military leadership on the assumption that their successors
would accede to Beijing.

---

China’s growing force of approximately 500 SRBMs is believed
to be based in the Nanjing Military Region directly opposite
Taiwan. From their garrisons, any missiles with adequate
precision guidance could destroy key leadership facilities,
military bases, and communication and transportation nodes with
minimal advanced warning. Some can attack U.S. bases on
Okinawa. Longer-range conventional MRBMs are expected
ultimately to join the inventory .

During a cross-Strait conflict, China most likely would initiate
an intensive perception management campaign, with both global
and regional audiences, to reduce the desire of Taiwan to resist,
justify China’s military campaign, and deter U.S. intervention.
China anticipates that this strategy will succeed because of the
fragility of the Taiwan population’s psychology. The Chinese
perception management campaign most likely would use
Chinese, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other regional media to
deliver messages to the Taiwan people and leaders .

If all other military options for subjugating Taiwan failed,
Beijing could try to occupy the entire island of Taiwan. Such an
operation would require a major commitment of civilian air and
maritime transport assets, and success would not be
guaranteed .

Beijing sees Washington as the principal hurdle to any attempt to
use military force to regain Taiwan. Therefore, deterring or
defeating foreign intervention ahead of Taiwan’s capitulation or
defeat would be integral to Beijing’s strategy.

---

*Ed. The following report conclusion was viewed as highly
controversial by many in the policy and defense establishment.

Taiwan’s Strengths in Countering PLA Courses of Action

Asymmetric capabilities that Taiwan possesses or is acquiring
could deter a Chinese attack by making it unacceptably costly.
Taiwan most likely will expand these capabilities either in
tandem with or in lieu of improving its conventional forces.

Taipei political and military leaders have recently suggested
acquiring weapon systems capable of standoff strikes against the
Chinese mainland as a cost-effective means of deterrence.
Taiwan’s Air Force already has a latent capability for airstrikes
against China. Leaders have publicly cited the need for ballistic
and land-attack cruise missiles. Since Taipei cannot match
Beijing’s ability to field offensive systems, proponents of strikes
against the mainland apparently hope that merely presenting
credible threats to China’s urban population or high-value
targets, such as the Three Gorges Dam, will deter Chinese
military coercion.

**Regarding this last bit, Defense News had the following
comment in a recent editorial.

“What the region doesn’t need right now are reports like the one
the Pentagon recently sent to the U.S. Congress on the status of
China’s military capabilities. Provocatively, the report outlines
Taiwan’s military options against the mainland, suggesting that
Taipei could preemptively attack China’s Three Gorges Dam.
Such a move would kill hundreds of thousands of civilians and
draw devastating response from Beijing. Given the hair-trigger
relationship between China and Taiwan, even outlining such a
potential strategy is irresponsible.

“The key to Asia’s stability is continued economic development
that not only moves all nations toward greater prosperity, but
links them so closely that conflict is not an option.”

[Source: FY04 Report to Congress on PRC Military Power:
Pursuant to the FY2000 National Defense Authorization Act]

---

Hott Spotts will return July 29.

Brian Trumbore


AddThis Feed Button

 

-07/22/2004-      
Web Epoch NJ Web Design  |  (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.

Hot Spots

07/22/2004

China's Military Power, Part II

Last week I excerpted from an important Defense Department
report on China’s military power. This time the focus is
primarily on the mainland’s relationship with Taiwan.

---

Preventing further steps by Taiwan toward permanent separation
from the mainland and securing eventual resolution of the
Taiwan issue on China’s terms are priority security concerns for
Beijing. China’s leaders consider Taiwan’s integration under
mainland authority an essential step toward completing “national
reunification” following reversions of Hong Kong and Macao in
1997 and 1999, respectively. While there is no apparent timeline
to resolve the Taiwan issue, no Chinese leader would want to be
saddled with responsibility for “losing” Taiwan. Many Chinese
strategists and analysts view Taiwan as occupying a critical
geostrategic location whose control would enable the PLA
(People’s Liberation Army) Navy to move its maritime defensive
perimeter further seaward and improve Beijing’s ability to
influence regional sea lines of communication. Alternatively,
according to some observers, permanent separation of Taiwan
from the mainland would constrain China’s ability to project
power and provide the United States with a strategic foothold
adjacent China’s coastal economic centers.

The Taiwan issue has taken on a greater sense of urgency in
recent years, especially because of the election of Taiwan
President Chen Shui-bian, from the traditionally independence-
leaning Democratic Progressive Party in 2000, and Beijing’s
concerns that improvements in U.S. defense and security
assistance to Taiwan will strengthen Taiwan’s ability to resist
mainland coercion.

Beijing is concerned about Chen’s decision to proceed with a
“defensive” referendum to address the growing missile threat
from the mainland as part of the ballot during the March 2004
presidential election, as well as the Kuomintang-dominated
opposition Pan-Blue camp’s perceived abandonment of
“reunification” as the inevitable course for the future of Taiwan.
These concerns have been reinforced following Chen’s victory in
the hotly contested March 2004 Taiwan Presidential election and
stated plans to revise the island’s constitution – an act which
some mainland commentators have characterized as a “timeline”
for Taiwan independence.

Consequently, the focus of China’s short-and medium-term
conventional modernization efforts has been to prepare for
military contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, to include scenarios
involving U.S. military intervention. Potential conflict scenarios
dictate a PLA emphasis on acquiring air, sea, and missile
systems to overwhelm Taiwan defenses and defeat the Taiwan
military and the political leadership’s will to resist, to counter,
delay, or raise the costs of effective U.S. military intervention.
These military modernization goals and priorities support
China’s overall political strategy toward Taiwan, which is
fundamentally coercive, by enabling Beijing to portray an
increasingly credible military threat to Taiwan as a backstop to
nonmilitary efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and pressure
Chen to resume dialogue based on the “one-China” principle .

Beijing believes U.S. intervention in conflict scenarios involving
China, such as Taiwan and the South China Sea, is increasingly
likely. Authoritative commentary and speeches by senior
officials suggest that U.S. actions over the past decade, to include
the NATO Operation Allied Force, have reinforced fears within
the Chinese leadership that the United States would appeal to
human rights and humanitarian concerns to intervene, either
overtly or covertly, in any internal dispute with ethnic Tibetan or
predominantly Muslim Uighur minorities. China’s leaders
recognize that China will not be able to engage in direct military
competition with the United States for the foreseeable future,
giving rise to a priority emphasis in the military modernization
program on preventing effective intervention by superior U.S.
forces in the first instance. This emphasis involves using
asymmetric solutions to blunt U.S. intervention or deny access to
the theater of operations, including development of so-called
“assassin’s mace” (shashoujian) and “trump card” weapons.

-Developing “assassin’s mace” weapons is not a new concept in
China. However, since 1999 the term has appeared more
frequently in Chinese professional journals, particularly in the
context of fighting the United States in a Taiwan conflict. What
actually classifies as an “assassin’s mace” weapon is unclear.
However, the concept appears to include a range of weapon
systems and technologies related to information warfare, ballistic
and antiship cruise missiles, advanced fighters and submarines,
counterspace systems, and air defense.

-The Chinese concept of “trump care” weapons extends beyond
specific systems and technology to include nontangibles such as
“people’s war” as a deterrent to a land invasion of China or
“economic and trade diplomacy” as increasing China’s
competitiveness with the United States in the Asia-Pacific
region.

---

Chinese military writings prescribe use of deception at the
campaign level to achieve maximum surprise and therefore
reduce warning time. Campaign deception is military deception
implemented under the unified leadership of campaign
commanders to achieve campaign goals and falls between
strategic and tactical deception. This type of deception can be
accomplished through camouflage, feints, and simulation. PLA
writings affirm the belief that a surprise attack can determine the
success or failure of a campaign. However, surprise in an attack
cannot ensure the favorable outcome of a war. In the Chinese
view, using surprise attacks to launch a war plays an important
role in seizing the initiative during the initial phase of a conflict.
To achieve surprise, a campaign or battle must meet two basic
conditions: “swift action” and “hidden undertakings,” with the
latter the denial and deception measures the Chinese would
employ to achieve tactical surprise on the battlefield.

---

China’s recent economic efforts have more than made up for the
self-imposed catastrophes of the Mao era and are diminishing the
advantages enjoyed by Taiwan and its economic successes since
the 1960s. Chinese diplomatic pressure has left the island bereft
of allies willing to help defend it from China. Beijing’s military
modernization program is eroding the spatial, temporal, and
distance challenges that historically inhibited using force against
Taiwan.

After close to 20 years of spectacular economic growth in China,
Beijing’s diplomatic successes, and steady improvement in the
PLA’s military capabilities, the cross-Strait pursuit of a peaceful
unification, Beijing has refused to renounce use of force against
Taiwan and has listed several circumstances under which it
would take up arms against the island. These include a formal
declaration of independence by Taipei, foreign intervention in
Taiwan’s internal affairs, indefinite delays in resumption of
cross-Strait dialogue, Taiwan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons,
and internal unrest on Taiwan. These statements, and China’s
ambitious military modernization program, may reflect an
increasing willingness to consider use of force to achieve
unification.

While internal debate over how to respond to Taiwan has ebbed
and flowed in recent years, Beijing still has a political strategy
for unification with a military component, not a military strategy
with a political component. Its longstanding approach to
resolving the cross-Strait standoff is multifaceted, integrating
political, economic, cultural, and military strategies to exert all of
its national power to dissuade Taiwan against ever crossing any
red lines and ultimately to accept Beijing’s terms. Since Chen’s
March 2004 reelection, Beijing likely has launched an internal
debate to assess whether its previous strategy of isolating him by
expanding contacts with political and economic elites on Taiwan
– who traditionally have held more favorable views toward
unification – needs to be discarded in favor of a different mix of
political, economic, and diplomatic carrots and sticks.

What does not appear to be in question among China’s senior
leaders is their belief in the need to maintain a credible potential
to deliver swift and decisive military force against Taiwan as an
essential element of Beijing’s strategy. The credible threat of
military force must complement political, economic, and cultural
coercion for the entire strategy to succeed. However much China
does not wish to attack Taiwan, it needs to be prepared to do so
for the nonmilitary components of its strategy to be sufficiently
persuasive. China’s military options take into account its
resource challenges and Taiwan’s comparative weaknesses.

---

Taipei’s military challenges are not lost on Beijing. The island’s
apparent lack of political consensus over addressing them with
substantially increased defense spending is undoubtedly seen as
an encouraging trend in Beijing. If successful, PLA
modernization will threaten that Taiwan autonomy by enabling
Beijing to launch a devastating standoff attack with insufficient
warning time for foreign forces to mobilize and deploy to aid
Taiwan .

The PLA’s offensive capabilities improve each year and provide
Beijing with an increasing number of credible options to
intimidate or actually attack Taiwan. China’s primary goal in
acquiring this force most likely is to compel Taipei’s
acquiescence to a negotiated solution by promising swift and
effective retaliation if it does not. Such force therefore would
need to be capable of achieving a rapid collapse of Taiwan’s
national will and thereby preclude U.S. intervention. The
specific coercive military strategy that Beijing would adopt is
unclear but is likely to include some combination of the options
specified below. A coercive campaign may seek to deter or
punish Taiwan through sudden application of violence. China
may choose gradually to escalate the level of military pressure to
compel Taiwan’s political leadership to adopt policies favorable
to Beijing’s interests. On the other hand, Beijing may seek to
deny Taiwan’s military its ability to resist, thereby convincing
the leadership to cease resistance. The PLA also could adopt a
decapitation strategy, seeking to neutralize Taiwan’s political
and military leadership on the assumption that their successors
would accede to Beijing.

---

China’s growing force of approximately 500 SRBMs is believed
to be based in the Nanjing Military Region directly opposite
Taiwan. From their garrisons, any missiles with adequate
precision guidance could destroy key leadership facilities,
military bases, and communication and transportation nodes with
minimal advanced warning. Some can attack U.S. bases on
Okinawa. Longer-range conventional MRBMs are expected
ultimately to join the inventory .

During a cross-Strait conflict, China most likely would initiate
an intensive perception management campaign, with both global
and regional audiences, to reduce the desire of Taiwan to resist,
justify China’s military campaign, and deter U.S. intervention.
China anticipates that this strategy will succeed because of the
fragility of the Taiwan population’s psychology. The Chinese
perception management campaign most likely would use
Chinese, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other regional media to
deliver messages to the Taiwan people and leaders .

If all other military options for subjugating Taiwan failed,
Beijing could try to occupy the entire island of Taiwan. Such an
operation would require a major commitment of civilian air and
maritime transport assets, and success would not be
guaranteed .

Beijing sees Washington as the principal hurdle to any attempt to
use military force to regain Taiwan. Therefore, deterring or
defeating foreign intervention ahead of Taiwan’s capitulation or
defeat would be integral to Beijing’s strategy.

---

*Ed. The following report conclusion was viewed as highly
controversial by many in the policy and defense establishment.

Taiwan’s Strengths in Countering PLA Courses of Action

Asymmetric capabilities that Taiwan possesses or is acquiring
could deter a Chinese attack by making it unacceptably costly.
Taiwan most likely will expand these capabilities either in
tandem with or in lieu of improving its conventional forces.

Taipei political and military leaders have recently suggested
acquiring weapon systems capable of standoff strikes against the
Chinese mainland as a cost-effective means of deterrence.
Taiwan’s Air Force already has a latent capability for airstrikes
against China. Leaders have publicly cited the need for ballistic
and land-attack cruise missiles. Since Taipei cannot match
Beijing’s ability to field offensive systems, proponents of strikes
against the mainland apparently hope that merely presenting
credible threats to China’s urban population or high-value
targets, such as the Three Gorges Dam, will deter Chinese
military coercion.

**Regarding this last bit, Defense News had the following
comment in a recent editorial.

“What the region doesn’t need right now are reports like the one
the Pentagon recently sent to the U.S. Congress on the status of
China’s military capabilities. Provocatively, the report outlines
Taiwan’s military options against the mainland, suggesting that
Taipei could preemptively attack China’s Three Gorges Dam.
Such a move would kill hundreds of thousands of civilians and
draw devastating response from Beijing. Given the hair-trigger
relationship between China and Taiwan, even outlining such a
potential strategy is irresponsible.

“The key to Asia’s stability is continued economic development
that not only moves all nations toward greater prosperity, but
links them so closely that conflict is not an option.”

[Source: FY04 Report to Congress on PRC Military Power:
Pursuant to the FY2000 National Defense Authorization Act]

---

Hott Spotts will return July 29.

Brian Trumbore