Joe Katzman of Winds of Change was kind enough to wade through the Dawn's Early Light arguments that the US and India will forge an alliance to counter China. Mr. Katzman has argued and continues to rationally argue and support reasons why the Indians may pursue more Russian SU-30MKI or the French Mirage 2000 and still take the US up on its offer to propel India into a "21st Century Major World Power". (For a summary of DEL's arguments and key posts on China click here, here, here and here and for India click here, here and here).
In this post, Dawn's Early Light will attempt to:
- provide a brief summary of the growing Chinese military capability
- describe the challenge China poses to Taiwan and other affected nations including the US, Japan, India and Australia
- argue why the US will create strong alliances with India and continue to strengthen its Japanese and Australian security arrangements to avert a war over Taiwan and wait it out for a democratic China.
I. A Quick History on Chinese Military Capabilities
Before responding, I would like to first point readers to several solid pieces on the US-China-Taiwan-India issue(s) that have been written lately.
From the Blogosphere:
- Redhunter's excellent piece "War with China: 2008-2010?", April 11, 2005. His analysis believes that China's window to attack Taiwan must occur after the 2008 Olympics (a point DEL failed to consider) but before 2010, when Taiwan and the US could pull well ahead of China's ability to invade.
- Belmont Club's always insightful "Taiwan and China" post from April 13, 2005, discussing the James Dunnigan Strategy Page "out of the blue" attack scenario. He seems to see it as unlikely because of the US navy's ability to thwart "China's string of pearls" goal of a steady pipeline of oil.
- The Daily Demarche, "Odds and Ends-Corrected", April 11, 2005, with an excellent collection of China links.
- Publius Pundit, "Riots Spreading in China", April 13, 2005 on Chinese nationalism directed at Japan.
- tdaxp argues in "Preventing War with China", April 11, 2005 that a nuclear Taiwan would be a stabilizing force in Asia.
- Between Worlds has a good deal of the cultural attitudes of the "warrior culture" (April 12, 2005) or lack thereof in Taiwan, which could also go for Japan and South Korea as well.
From the Professional Journalists/Analysts
- Jane's Defense Weekly "China: Ready, steady, go ..." (subscription required for full article) argues "An emerging consensus among long-time PLA observers, including within the US intelligence community, is that the Chinese military has successfully achieved a far-reaching qualitative advancement in its warfighting capabilities since the beginning of this decade. The PLA is quickly becoming an increasingly credible threat against Taiwan and could even begin to pose a challenge to US military preponderance in East Asia in the next decade if the momentum is sustained."
- Defense Tech's "China Threat, Round Three", April 13, 2005 (HT: Instapundit)
- Report to Congress "Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China", July 28, 2003 which states in its Executive Summary: "While seeing opportunity and benefit in interactions with the United States -- primarily in terms of trade and technology -- Beijing apparently believes that the United States poses a significant long-term challenge.
In support of its overall national security objectives, China has embarked upon a force modernization program intended to diversify its options for use of force against potential targets such as Taiwan, the South China Sea and border defense, and to complicate United States intervention in a Taiwan Strait conflict. Preparing for a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait is the primary driver for China’s military modernization. While it professes a preference for resolving the Taiwan issue peacefully, Beijing is also seeking credible military options. Should China use force against Taiwan, its primary goal likely would be to compel a quick negotiated solution on terms favorable to Beijing." (Also see key pages 4-10 of 52 total for the Key Developments section of Chinese military improvements)
- Report to Congress "Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China", 2004 has several "Lessons Learned" for the PLA from the US success in Iraq, which include:
- "The PLA is rethinking the concept inferred from Operation ALLIED FORCE that airpower alone is sufficient to prevail in a conflict.
- The speed of Coalition ground force advances and the role of special forces in OIF have caused PLA theorists to rethink their assumptions about the value of long-range precision strikes, independent of ground forces, in any Taiwan conflict scenario.
- Other OIF “lessons learned” impacting PLA thinking include the integration of psychological operations with air and rapid ground operations designed to target enemy leadership, its ability to communicate, and its will to fight.
- Allied weapon system integration/interoperability has reinforced the PLA’s decision to accelerate acquisition of improved information technology and improvements to its weapons mobility, firepower, and precision weapons capabilities.
- The success of Coalition joint operations has confirmed the PLA’s decision to improve its joint operations capability by developing advanced C4ISR [DEL see here for description] systems and improving inter-service cooperation.
- SinoDefense, "China Seeks Heavylift Aircraft", October 1, 2004 is seeking to purchase An-124 (Condor) heavylift aircraft from Ukraine. These aircraft, the largest in the world: "can carry 448 troops or 268 paratroops, or 16 pallets of cargos for airdrops, each weighting up to 4.5 tonnes, outperforming any strategic transport aircraft in service with the Western air forces."
- Washington Post, "China Builds a Smaller, Stronger Miliary", April 11, 2005 (summarized by DEL here)
2. US Interest to Deter China from Invading Taiwan
While the above articles may have some disagreements, they all point to a vastly improving Chinese military that soon will have the capability of being a credible threat to Taiwan. Just as Japan was able to strike quickly at Pearl Harbor, China may be able to strike quickly against Taiwan, but like Japan circa 1941, China does not have the access to oil and the ability to hold off a militarily superior United States. Nevertheless, the United States, in its own interests, must deter China from a Taiwan invasion, and it will attempt to do so by pursuing a military and diplomatic front with Japan, India and Australia to severely restrict Chinese options. As part of this American commitment and continued adherence to the One-China policy that President Bush has publicly supported, Taiwan must do its part to maintain a credible defense and not seek a change in the status quo.
To believe the above, one must first answer "Why does Taiwan matter?" as several readers and bloggers have asked in the comment section of this blog. I will refer back to my comments on George W. Bush's second inaugural address:
"President Bush's charge and the heart of his message came early:
"We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
The speech brought to mind John F. Kennedy's inaugural address when he eloquently said:
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
While the United States did help promote democracy during the Cold War, it did not do so with the passion and energy our nation needs to now pursue it. The Cold War was about pragmatic compromises, supporting unsavory dictators as well, especially in the Middle East, to keep countries in the US sphere rather than the Communist sphere.
In a post Cold War world, where different ideologies dominate the world debate, the old paradigm of working with unsavory nations cannot continue to ensure US security.
I believe President Bush was not just trying to hold ground and promote his democratic changes in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead was laying down the gauntlet to totalitarian states:
'All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.... The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.'"
If the US fails to defend a democratic Taiwan from China, then it destroys any credibility won in the War on Terror with other nations. If we fail Taiwan, what is our response to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Ukraine, Japan, Australia, our European allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and many other nations that depend on American security?
Additionally, allowing China to take Taiwan by force would automatically make the 21st century a Chinese century, as the ability for the US to promote and defend global security would crumble. Any century that has a non-free government at the apex of the international order will not be a century of peace, economic development and the expansion of liberty.
3. US Crafting Strategic Alliances with Democracies to Contain Chinese Nationalism
To promote security in Greater East Asia and Australia, the United States has been working during the Bush Administration to forge close diplomatic, economic and strategic ties with important regional and international countries. The main countries of US interest are Japan, Australia and India.
Japan's short-term to mid-range goals are to secure a seat on the UN Security Council (which the US supports), which the Chinese government has allowed to become a cause for a national protest that has grown out of control. Simon has an excellent analysis of the Sino-Japanese tensions:
"The Chinese riots [DEL: against Japan receiving a UNSC seat] also reflect a major domestic political change. The Chinese Communist Party has long ceased to be a party of Communism. It has instead switched to becoming a party of nationalism. It suits to use such occasions as an outlet to allow people to vent. It would much rather that anger is directed externally than people look inwardly and discuss Government failings, such as the riots in Dongyang. The problem is China will find it hard to contain the emotions unleashed and that will be to its detriment.
China and Japan are both rising global powers. They are both grappling with China's economic rise but also with their emergence as global rather than only regional players. Sometimes that requires setting aside self-interest for a broader global good. It's an issue the United States constantly grapples with. This time China has a chance to assume the mantle of world statesman and deal with this situation. It makes good sense for Japan to join the UN Security Council. In the longer term it will be to China's benefit to have Japan there."
While I agree with Simon, I very much doubt the Chinese government feels the same way about the long-term benefits of a Japanese UNSC seat. For the Chinese, it is a zero sum game, and Japan's gain must be China's loss. Nationalism is a driving force and a necessary ingredient of the current Chinese government's continued hold on power.
Because of Japan's fears of a rising Chinese dragon, they have extended their military relationship with the US to include defending Taiwan (see DEL here). If war was to break out in the Taiwanese Strait, the economic engine of Asia and possibly the world would grind to a halt. It is in Japan's long-term political, national security and economic interests to work with the United States in providing a proper deterrent to China. It is encouraging that Japan has boldly taken this step.
Prime Minister John Howard of Australia has proven to be a leader and ally of the United States on par with Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom. The United States is moving forward with this relationship and is proving to the Australians that their partnership and friendship is important. While the popular press accords this to the War on Terror, which I agree with, I imagine it also relates to regional issues as well.
Note this little reported (in the US) story of the Bush Administration's treatment of the retiring popular Australian Ambassador Mr. Thawley as reported April 7, 2005 by the Australian:
"George W.Bush just wanted to say goodbye to Mr Thawley, Australia's ambassador to the US, who is due to leave the post in a few weeks.
But the fact that so many of the President's senior cabinet turned up as well indicates Australia's diplomatic punch in the US these days is well above its economic and military weight.
Rarely do ambassadors of any country command this kind of crowd in the Oval Office, but they all turned up for Mr Thawley and his wife Deborah at a private mid-afternoon get-together: Vice-President Dick Cheney, White House chief of staff Andy Card, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy - and soon to be World Bank president -- Paul Wolfowitz; and the US's top military officer, General Richard Myers."
What is surprising about the neocon guest list is how defense heavy as opposed to State Department heavy it was. This comes after an important visit by Joint Chief's General Richard Myers' visit to Australia (incidentally, he flew to Mongolia on the same trip, which adds to the containment concept). Gen. Myers discussed "regional issues and continuing U.S.-Australian projects". It is likely these regional issues included Taiwan.
Australia, much like Japan, would endure economic issues with any conflict over Taiwan. In promoting regional security, Australia's interests include increasing "military to military" exchanges and exercises with the US and supporting a "peaceful" resolution to the One-China policy.
India presents the greatest paradigm-shifting opportunity for the United States in Asia and in ultimately deterring China from an invasion of Taiwan. Dawn's Early Light argued the following on March 25, 2005:
"My guess is that Secretary Rice offered the following [DEL: to the Indian government]:
- India should purchase the US F-16s (up to 125 aircraft)
- The US will approve a smaller sale of F-16s to Pakistan, with New Delhi's knowledge
- The US will offer future, more advanced military hardware including:
- missile defense
- nuclear reactor technology
- high tech programs
- other advanced US weapon systems
- The US will engage in a long-term strategic relationship with India to contain China and proactively work to propel India into being a major 21st century world power."
The United States currently has an economy too heavily dependent on Chinese exports. Shifting a portion of this imbalance over to a democratic India is very much in the US economic interest. India has an extremely well educated, economically growing society that the US is already increasingly investing in. Indian companies like Tata (see related The Economist articles here) and others have the ability to and currently do compete on a global scale.
While a popular Indian worry about any future US arms deal would be the possibility of another arms embargo, as happened with India and Pakistan over the 1996 nuclear testing, this scenario is unlikely to repeat itself because the US strategically needs New Dehli, and New Dehli is not likely to start a war with Pakistan.
While there is strong evidence for US interest in such a partnership, the evidence on the Indian side is equally strong, if not more so.
- On an economic level, increased trade with the United States would be a great benefit to the Indian economy.
- The energy needs, specifically the US offer of nuclear technology, would greatly reduce India's need for an oil pipeline running through Pakistan. The national security implications of this cannot be overstated for India.
- Providing India with another source of military technology on top of French (EU) and Russian hardware would help make India's armed forces superior to many NATO members.
- The crown jewel, however, is the US commitment to make India a "major world power in the 21st century".
While the United States has been rather quiet on its view of an Indian UNSC seat, I believe it is part of the continued discussions and horse-trading between DC and New Dehli.
The most telling anecdotes are in these two recent news items:
- External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh will meet President Bush and Sec. State Condoleezza Rice this Thursday to discuss greater US-Indo relations and moving forward on the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP).
- April 12, 2005 Daily Press Briefing: "QUESTION: Just one last thing on that. Have U.S. officials had any discussions with the Indian officials, and especially the Foreign Minister, who is coming here this week, on exactly what might be their concerns about China and China's buildup and then what might be the limit to the India-China relationship? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we've had any discussions in New Delhi in view of the visit that just occurred. I think it just finished. So I'm sure we'll be talking to both sides about how this relationship is going and what they foresee. And as you pointed out, the Secretary does have an opportunity to talk to the Indian Foreign Minister later this week."
The above two items point to the US making an intensive effort at strengthening ties with India. Secretary Rice's comments after her meeting with Minister Singh will shed more light on India's future direction. The subject of India and China's recent economic cooperation is also covered in the briefing and mentioned as a potential positive.
I do agree with Mr. Katzman that New Dehli could stiff the American offer on the F-16s (block 70) or F-18s and still collude with the Americans on strategic regional interests. However, I believe New Dehli will want to firmly take a step into the American defense market. Once a sale is concluded, it will open up greater opportunities for more advanced equipment, including naval weapons, missile defense, transport and logistics. The possibility of purchasing US fighters is not an "end" in itself. While Dawn's Early Light appears to be in a minority opinion on the consummation of a US sale, I still think it is likely. With high level talks taking place this week, I imagine the US will conclude a good strategic deal with India for both nations.
Regardless of India's final decision, I believe they will join the US alliance in containing China, for the benefits are many.
A successful US forging and strengthening of alliances with Japan, Australia and India will severely limit China's mid- to long-term nationalistic goals with consolidating all Chinese into a One China by force. As Redhunter (above) points out, it is unlikely China would take any steps to repeat the Soviet mistake of invading Afghanistan in 1979 prior to their 1980 Olympic hosting and subsequent Western world boycott. China has much to show the world in 2008, and they will keep their nationalism in check and continue their strong military buildup, biding their time. The United States, along with democratic countries in Eastern Asia, have an opportunity to build a constructive alliance to deter China from seeking its goals militarily, but they must act now and wait for an emerging dragon to reform democratically.