Vernuccio’s View: Beijing’s Massive Military Threat

Chengdu J-10 Photo by: Xinhua/Liang Xu

While news of a potential nuclear deal with North Korea and the ending of the deeply flawed nuclear deal with Iran dominate the headlines, an even greater danger to international safety remains inadequately discussed.

A series of jarring activities by Beijing has occurred, not coincidentally as President Xi has gained near total personal control of his government. The latest involves firing laser weapons intended to blind U.S. Air Force pilots in Africa. According to the Pentagon, “Over the last couple of weeks, in at least two and perhaps as many as 10 incidents, U.S. aircraft landing at the base were hit by laser beams. U.S. officials said the beam is coming from a military grade laser, and that they are confident the Chinese are behind the incidents.” The pilots sustained minor injuries.

That singular incident is only the tip of the iceberg. China has dramatically enhanced its capability of dominating key oceanic passages through the installation of anti-ship missiles. Yahoo News quotes a U.S. official stating that intelligence assets had seen signs that China had moved some weapons systems to the Spratly Islands in the past month or so. A CNBC report discloses that  the missiles were moved to Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands within the past 30 days.

China is not acting alone in its bid to end the safety in the Pacific that has prevailed since the conclusion of the Second World War. Business Insider reports that China actively wants to change the status quo in the Pacific and poses a more immediate threat to Japan. In doing so, it is working in tandem with Russia, which has also been building up its Pacific fleet to be a formidable force in the region.

An immediate and direct threat to American military forces in the region comes from China’s “Guam killer” missile, which Global Security  reports has now been placed into active service.  China’s burgeoning technology in missile, including the Guam Killer as well as the DF-21, gives the PRC armed forces the capability to destroy both land and sea major U.S. assets.

The incoming commander of U.S. Pacific Forces, Admiral Philip Davidson, has provided little-reported but chilling testimony to the Senate’s Armed Forces Committee about China’s capabilities and goals:

“I have increasing concerns about the future. China has undergone a rapid military modernization over the last three decades…there is no guarantee that the United States would win a future conflict with China… Current force structure and presence do not sufficiently counter the threats in the Indo-Pacific, particularly a resurgent China that leverages military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics in pursuit of regional hegemony and displacement of the United States over the long term… it is increasingly clear that China wants to shape a world aligned with its own authoritarian model and inconsistent with these principles. Through coercive diplomacy, predatory economic policies, and rapid military expansion, China is undermining the rules-based international order… China is pursuing a long-term strategy to reduce U.S. access and influence in the region and become the clear regional hegemon, and Beijing has already made significant progress along this path. China is no longer a rising power but an arrived great power and peer competitor to the United States in the region. …China seeks to displace the U.S. as the security partner of choice for countries in the Indo-Pacific. [T]he People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is using its rapidly increasing defense budget to fund the most ambitious military modernization in the world…

“The threat to U.S. forces and bases is substantial and growing. The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Forces … can threaten U.S. bases in the region, including those in South Korea, Japan, and Guam, as well as naval forces operating inside the Second Island Chain.”

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D. is the editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government and the co-host of the popular WVOX weekly radio show, “And Nothing But The Truth.”

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