Usually countries fight for gains or to prevent losses, but US experts are quite different. Michael Pillsbury, the director of the Centre on Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute, holds quite different views. In his recent article “China and the United States Are Preparing for War” he holds that war is inevitable because China is not willing to reveal its real military strength.
As a Chinese person, I know very well the commencement of China’s arms race with the US two years ago. It was reflected in my post “Arms Race between China and America” on March 5, 2012.
The arms race began when China realised that the real aim of the US pivot to Asia was to encircle China, though the US repeatedly denied that.
Before the arms race, China had also been making efforts to catch up with the US in weapon developments for fear of US support for Taiwan’s independence. It began to develop DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles to destroy US aircraft carriers.
However, there was no such urgency as an arms race when the US made clear that it opposes Taiwan’s independence.
The arms race now is an earnest one into which China has input a great deal of funds and other resources. In addition to domestic development efforts, China has spent large amounts of foreign exchange to purchase weapons and weapon technology from Russia and other European countries.
China is doing so to deal with US interference in its maritime territorial disputes with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. It is well-known that there are rich energy and fish resources in the disputed waters. If China fights, it fights for real interests, but the US, if involved, will be fighting to help its allies without economic gains.
If the US refuses to be involved, there will be no war between China and the US, even if China is stronger than the US, because China will gain nothing in attacking the US.
For the US, war is very expensive now, and American soldier’s lives are even more precious. Why should the US waste its financial resources and risk its people’s lives for other countries’ interests?
According to Mr. Pillsbury, the US will fight China due to China’s failure to reveal its military strength. I do not really see his wisdom. Does he mean that the US will attack China when China has secretly enhanced its military strength to have surpassed the US? It does not seem wise for the US to attack a country stronger than it. Can the US be sure that it will win the war?
Or does he mean that the US will attack China when China is inferior in military strength and refuses to reveal the truth? However, that is precisely the reason why China is unwilling to reveal its real military strength. If the US is clear how weak China is compared with the US, it will be easy for the US to make a decision to attack China.
It was common in European history that when a country grew stronger than others, the weaker ones joined force to fight the stronger one for balance of strength. However, that will not be the case for the US. Europe has been selling weapons and technology and components of weapons to China to help it in its arms race with the US. Europe certainly will not join the US in fighting China.
Russia also fears a China stronger than it. It could have been the best ally for the US in countering China, but the US has been containing Russia, and pushed it to China’s side. Now, there is much bigger possibility of Russia joining China to fight the US, than Russia joining the US to fight China.
What is the real reason for an inevitable war between the US and China according to Mr. Pillsbury? We find it in the title of his forthcoming book The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower.
The US wants to remain the global superpower, even if another country grows stronger due to its leaders’ good governance and its people’s talents and diligence. The US unfortunately has poor governance that makes it impossible for its people to give play to their talents and diligence.
In such a case, the US will not improve its governance to make its economy prosper and its people happy, but will instead waste its precious resources and people’s lives to fight a stronger power, to prevent that power from growing even stronger, its economy from growing even more prosperous and its people from becoming happier.
What bizarre reasons for war.
The following is the full text of Michael Pillsbury’s article:
China and the United States Are Preparing for War
Despite the Obama-Xi handshake deal, the probability of confrontation will only heighten as long as the PLA remains a black box.
At a Nov. 12 news conference in Beijing, General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to notify the other side before major military activities, and to develop a set of rules of behaviour for sea and air encounters, in order to avoid military confrontations in Asia. “It’s incredibly important that we avoid inadvertent escalation,” Ben Rhodes, a U.S. deputy national security advisor, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying. An “accidental circumstance,” he said, could “lead into something that could precipitate conflict.”
Should we really be worried about war between the United States and China? Yes. Over the last four decades of studying China, I have spoken with hundreds of members of China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and read countless Chinese military journals and strategy articles. Chinese military and political leaders believe that their country is at the centre of American war planning. In other words, Beijing believes that the United States is readying itself for the possibility of a conflict with China — and that it must prepare for that eventuality.
Tensions are high not just because of Beijing’s rapidly expanding military budget, or because the United States continues to commit an increasingly high percentage of its military assets to the Pacific as part of its “rebalance” strategy. Rather, the biggest problem is Chinese opacity. While it’s heartening to hear Xi agree to instruct the PLA to be more open with regard to the United States, it is doubtful this will lead to any real changes.
Washington is willing to share a substantial amount of military information with China, in order to “reduce the chances of miscommunication, misunderstanding or miscalculation,” as then U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said during a January 2011 trip to Beijing. But the Chinese leadership, which benefits from obfuscation and asymmetric tactics, refuses to communicate its military’s intentions.
Despite repeated entreaties from American officials, Beijing is unwilling to talk about many key military issues — like the scope and intentions of its rapid force buildup, development of technologies that could cripple American naval forces in the region, and its military’s involvement in cyberattacks against the United States — that would lower friction between the two sides. And sometimes, as in 2010 after U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, Beijing breaks off military-to-military contacts altogether — leading to an especially troubling silence.
As a result, there is a growing mistrust of China among many thoughtful people in the U.S. government. Chinese military officers have complained to me that journals of the American war colleges now feature articles on war with China, and how the United States can win. A February 2014 article, for example, in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine, entitled “Deterring the Dragon,” proposes laying offensive underwater mines along China’s coast to close China’s main ports and destroy its sea lines of communications. The article also suggests sending special operations forces to arm China’s restive minorities in the country’s vast western regions.
But China is doing the same thing. In 2013, Gen. Peng Guangqian and Gen. Yao Youzhi updated their now-classic text, The Science of Military Strategy, and called for Beijing to add to the quality and quantity of its nuclear weapons, in order to close the gap between China and both Russia and the United States. Even Xi’s “new model” of great-power relations seems to preclude arms control negotiations, requiring the United States to yield to the inevitability of China’s rise.
Many people outside the Pentagon may be surprised by just how many senior American officials are worried about a war with China. These include no less than the last U.S. two secretaries of defense, and a former secretary of state. In the concluding chapter of Henry Kissinger’s 2011 book, On China, he warns of a World War I-style massive Chinese-American war. “Does history repeat itself?” he asks.
Over at least the last decade, on several occasions the United States has pressed China to be more forthright about its military intentions and capabilities. In April 2006, after a meeting between President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, and Chinese President Hu Jintao, both governments announced the start of talks between the strategic nuclear force commanders on both sides. This move would have been extremely important in demonstrating openness about military intentions. But the PLA dragged its feet, and the talks never started.
In a September 2012 trip to Beijing, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta tried to persuade Beijing to enter military talks. Like his predecessor Gates, Panetta called for four specific areas of strategic dialogue: nuclear weapons, missile defense, outer space, and cybersecurity. But the Chinese objected, and again the talks never happened.
Sure, Beijing could follow through on the agreements announced during Obama’s recent trip. But I’m sceptical. One of the biggest advantages China has over the United States is the asymmetry of military knowledge. Why would they give that up?
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