Post by Admin on May 18, 2020 13:03:25 GMT
A though-provoking Opinion piece for your consideration ...
Why China is a bigger threat than the Soviet Union
Washington Examiner | January 30, 2020
For reasons of politics, economics, and military power, the Chinese Communist Party now poses a greater threat to U.S. security than the Soviet Union did during the Cold War.
The similarities between those two behemoths are obvious.
Both nations rooted their power in authoritarian control over the people and in devotion to party supremacy, and both viewed America's submission as a prerequisite for their ultimate success, but most of the threat similarities end there. In large part, that's because communist China has a far better strategy than the Soviet Union. Where Moscow sought to dominate its adversaries, Beijing seeks first to co-opt and then dominate them. Where the Soviet Union relied on ramshackle KGB efforts to steal Western technology, China matches domestic hackers to academic infiltrators. Where the Soviet military tried to overmatch NATO with mass, Xi Jinping fragments our alliances and targets our defensive weak points.
Let's consider the political, economic, and military elements in turn.
Beijing's ideology takes the center in what might be described as warped communism. The Standing Committee believes that the party is supreme and China is destined for global hegemony, but it's flexible about how to get there. Xi's inner circle is happy to make foreign nations rich if that will earn their loyalty. We see the patronage-cronyism side of things in Africa and Asia, where China has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects. This has facilitated webs of pro-Beijing political corruption, but the most striking example of this Chinese gambit is found in the West.
Here, as with the three great European powers of Britain (see Huawei), France (see French President Emmanuel Macron), and Germany (see colleges), China advances its political influence on the back of cheap goods and major investments. The public relations game is equally clever. China respects Western democratic models, it says, and seeks only coexistence. Unlike the Soviet Union, China does not heavily support communist separatist movements in the West. This makes it easier for Western politicians to accept Beijing's influence gravy train and makes China's offer of friendship more credible to our populations. Where China's effort is obstructed, as in Australia and Canada, it rapidly transitions to coercive threats.
This binary offer of wealth or suffering carries added weight in Western democracies. After all, it's not easy for a Western politician to sell economic pain to a population that China has made sympathetic to the narrative of its amiability. The Soviet Union's great challenge was that the world quickly learned to recognize its pathetic living standards and political repression and didn't want anything to do with it, but, when China is seen to make foreign lives better with cheap goods and even offer exciting trips to modern cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and, until recently, Hong Kong, its offered hand seems reasonable, even desirable. By the time the handcuffs are seen, it's too late.
China's economic model is equally clever.
Yes, China's economy is command-model in nature, but it's one that desires innovation and profit in ways of which the Soviets could never conceive. China offers investment with one hand and wages an industrial campaign to seize intellectual property with the other, and, while China is ruled by a communist elite, Xi is far more tolerant than Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and even Mikhail Gorbachev in fostering great centers of individual wealth and power.
Exports were only a tiny element of the Soviet economy, but China's export economy is the crown jewel of its economy. It also has benefited global consumers by providing them with access to a vast array of cheap goods, and China's vast import market has also made many foreigners wealthy. Again, this allows Beijing to sell its public relations pitch: It's good to trade with us and be our friend, even if we bend the rules.
Of course, in the shadows, China does not bend the rules. It blows them up.
China's disdain for global trading rules and intellectual property costs the West trillions of dollars a year. Supported by legions of students and academics, China's economic-centered thievery uses the insurance of massed numbers against disruption by counterintelligence services such as the FBI, and, supported by lobbyists and senior politicians, China's economic influence campaign finds insulation from government pushback. The end result is a Chinese economic model that sustains on the back of vast exports of cheap goods, manipulation of free trade and foreign governance, and the theft of that which others have invested vast sums of money, effort, and time in creating. This papers over the flaws of China's command economy in a way that the Soviet Union never could.
And what of the Chinese military?
Well, it's impressive. Much is made of the fact that the United States spends roughly three times more on defense than China, but that point ignores three truths. First, People's Liberation Army corporals are paid approximately 15 times less than their U.S. counterparts. Second, China avoids much of the Pentagon's research costs by simply stealing its developments. Third, China does not focus on global power projection beyond cyber, ballistic missile, and space-based weapon systems.
Moreover, unlike the Soviet Union, which sought to challenge NATO with more tanks, missiles, and men, China focuses on denying America entry into the fight. China's satellite weapons, aircraft carrier killer missiles, and growing fleet of air defense warships are all intended to make U.S. policymakers pause at the moment of decision. On the battlefield, China offers to swarm U.S. aircraft carriers with DF-21 missiles and U.S. bases with DF-26 missiles. Then it would offer a ceasefire that seems reasonable to a scared Congress, but that gives China a game-changing geo-strategic win.
In the backdrop, Beijing plans to offset superior U.S. cyberwarfare capabilities by using its own advanced platforms against U.S. civil society and thus turning American opinion toward appeasement. Remember, the dictator Xi can and will accept his people's reciprocal suffering in order to win.
China cannot defeat the U.S. military on continents beyond Asia, but it doesn't care. Beijing doesn't need to wage that war.
Where the U.S. military and its NATO allies were superior to the Soviet Union in tools, training, and allied unity, that's not the case with China. Australia and Japan are great, but the U.S. partnership with India is at a formative stage, the Europeans, Britain aside, are reluctant to send ships through the South China Sea, and most Asia-Pacific nations support Washington only tentatively. The only combat areas where America can overwhelm China are in the cyber, undersea, long-range bomber, and nuclear domains.
Ultimately, this leaves us with a simple proposition: If we wish to maintain the American-led international order in the 21st century, we better get serious about the challenge it now faces. China offers panda bears, cheap T-shirts, and smiles, but we can get the latter two from many nations, and the price tag for accepting China's hand will be handcuffs on our future, handcuffs holding us to a future that is less free, poorer, and guided by a regime that revels in concentration camps.