Required reading on U.S.–China relations – Week of 2013-11-11
A U.S. military strategy more limited than ‘Air-Sea Battle’ would be cheaper and sufficient to face potential conflict with China, argues William Yale at The Diplomat.
Patterns of analysis, namely game theory and the Net Assessment process, have led to unhelpful assumptions, Yale writes. Running under the surface of this argument is the power of military interests to drive strategy when broad-stroke decisions go un-examined by civilian leaders. “In planning for the China scenario, the U.S. should be focusing on acquiring weapon systems that have low-visibility, low-escalation potential, high-survivability, and high-deterrence value, which would allow the U.S. military to conduct a blockade (lower-end surface combatants sitting outside of China’s reach) and deny the PLA Navy the ability to sail in their neighborhood (Virginia-class submarines).”
The United States and China might be at greater risk of military conflict now compared to if they were Cold War-style adversaries, argues Avery Goldstein in Foreign Affairs.
The risk of conflict is low, but in a conflict, the risk of escalation is currently high, Goldstein argues, recommending use of the U.S.–China hotline as intended and increased mil-mil exchanges. “It is true that China and the United States are not currently adversaries — certainly not in the way that the Soviet Union and the United States were during the Cold War. But the risk of a U.S.-Chinese crisis might actually be greater than it would be if Beijing and Washington were locked in a zero-sum, life-and-death struggle. As armed adversaries on hair-trigger alert, the Soviet Union and the United States understood that their fundamentally opposed interests might bring about a war. After going through several nerve-racking confrontations over Berlin and Cuba, they gained an understanding of each other’s vital interests — not to be challenged without risking a crisis — and developed mechanisms to avoid escalation. China and the United States have yet to reach a similar shared understanding about vital interests or to develop reliable means for crisis management.”
A translation of the purported full text of the Communist Party internal “Document 9” from April on managing the ideological sphere was published by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile.
This document targets incorrect views supposedly promoted by those abroad and those who question Communist Party rule, including the virtue of constitutional governance, free press, civil society, and on the other hand anti-reform voices. The full text fits many recent reports of “crackdowns” on diverse viewpoints. “These mistaken views and ideas exist in great numbers in overseas media and reactionary publications. They penetrate China through the Internet and underground channels and they are disseminated on domestic Internet forums, blogs, and microblogs, They also appear in public lectures, seminars, university classrooms, class discussion forums, civilian study groups, and individual publications. If we allow any of these ideas to spread, they will disturb people’s existing consensus on important issues like which flag to raise, which road to take, which goals to pursue, etc., and this will disrupt our nation’s stable progress on reform and development.”