Vernuccio’s View: Dangerous Illusions About Beijing

America’s political establishment—Democrats and Republicans, liberals and Conservatives—desperately want to believe that China harbors no malign intentions. According to The Navy Times, the Obama Administration had “barred Pentagon leaders from a key talking point when it comes to publicly describing the military challenges posed by China.”

China maritime disputes

It’s easy to understand the hope that China seeks peace.  The consequences of facing the worlds’ largest population and second largest economy, a nation aligned directly with Russia, the planet’s greatest nuclear force and occupying the world’s largest national land mass—are truly horrifying.

That doesn’t make the reality any less substantial. There is almost no evidence that Beijing has any intention of acting in a manner that indicates anything other than belligerent intent.  Beijing’s military budget continues to soar. Its espionage effort is increasingly extensive. It has done nothing to rein in its North Korean client states’ nuclear brinksmanship. It continues its illegal expansionist activities, both in the development of artificial islands and its dominance of the offshore exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Its military influence in Latin America and Africa grows. notes that “the Chinese are reportedly working on a handful of high-tech next-generation ships, weapons and naval systems. China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships [the U.S. Navy only has approximately 276]  by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets, according to a recent Congressional report.”

Foreign Policy  article notes that a “confidential U.N. Report details North Korea’s front companies in China. …an unpublished U.N. report obtained by Foreign Policy …documents sophisticated North Korean efforts to evade sanctions …China…has…served as Pyongyang’s economic lifeline, purchasing the vast majority of its coal, gold, and iron ore and serving as the primary hub for illicit trade that undermines a raft of U.N. sanctions that China nominally supports, the report’s findings suggest…North Korean banks and firms, meanwhile, have maintained access to international financial markets through a vast network of Chinese-based front companies, enabling Pyongyang to evade sanctions.”

Washington Free Beacon analysis notes that  “Recent press reports that have received little attention in the West indicate that China is quintupling the size of its marine corps, from roughly 20,000 to 100,000 troops. We really should be paying more attention…You only need a large marine corps if you intend to assert yourself overseas. A perceptive piece last year in The National Interest surveyed this development…The article asked readers to consider ‘the potential ramifications of such a Chinese amphibious force maintaining a constant presence in, say, Southeast Asia,’or indeed that it ‘may routinely operate in the Indian Ocean as well—and, for that matter, even in the Mediterranean. …Far from a peaceful rise as a nation comfortable with existing international norms and reasonably concerned with its own security, China gives every indication of a desire to call the shots globally. If it achieves such a position, the world will come to miss American predominance—and so will Americans.”

The Free Beacon also reported that “China flight tested a new variant of a long-range missile with 10 warheads in what defense officials say represents a dramatic shift in Beijing’s strategic nuclear posture…The Chinese Communist Party propaganda newspaper Global Times, known for its anti-U.S. stance, issued stark calls for China to build up its nuclear arsenal for use against the United States.”

America’s policy makers must fully accept that China is a militarily equal power with an expansionist policy that views American strength, and America’s allies, as roadblocks. It would be irresponsible for Washington to continue the Obama policy of ignoring this threat and not strengthening and preparing the U.S. military for the dire challenge that lays ahead.


Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

Frank Vernuccio serves as Editor-in-Chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government

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