"China's Economic Sword"

Aug 29, 2011
Defense Drumbeat

The Defense Department recently released a report on the Military and Security Developments in China, specifically referencing Beijing’s increasing assertiveness and military capabilities.

In an article for Real Clear Politics, Jed Babbin in “China's Economic Sword” writes that “the Beijing regime thinks the first two decades of the 21st Century are a ‘strategic window of opportunity’ in which China’s ‘comprehensive national power’ can be enhanced. A close reading of that report reveals that the continuing the US economic crisis is a principal reason for that belief.’”

“The prolonged weakness of the US economy is a double-edged sword for the Communist Chinese. Though they are advantaged by the Obama administration’s increasing unwillingness to fund our defense, our economic instability threatens one of the foundations of the regime. As the Pentagon report says, continued economic development is, to Beijing, a “bedrock of social stability” as well as the means of underwriting the rapid expansion of Chinese military power. They believe that any economic slump could undermine their hold on domestic power.

“According to House Armed Services Committee sources briefed by the Pentagon, any threat to the continued growth of the Chinese economy is considered of ultimate strategic importance to Beijing. China’s economy -- threatened by our economic weakness and Europe’s -- faces a rapid contraction caused in part by a diminution of trade.

“But the other side of China’s economic sword poses a great danger to the United States. China watchers have, for nearly a decade, observed Beijing’s enormous military buildup with concern. It’s been more than 500 years since China built a deep-water navy, and it’s well on the way to having a force that can effectively block US intervention in defense of allies such as Taiwan and Japan. China’s air forces are also building to an effective area denial force. The Chinese chose to unveil their new stealthy J-20 fighter while then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates was visiting China, a gesture timed to cause Gates – and the United States – to lose face. The Chinese see themselves as a rising power and America as a global has-been. And they believe that is true in both the military and economic spheres.

“However great China’s conventional military buildup is (and we don’t really know because their military spending is well-concealed) China’s dedication to the development of asymmetric weapons is even more intense. In cyberwar, China is probably the world leader and is, as the report cites, responsible for a massive cyberespionage effort. Though the Pentagon report alludes to the likelihood that China is behind major cyberattacks (principally espionage) against the US and other nations, other sources have told me repeatedly that China is clearly behind those and other cyberattacks – some successful – which were aimed at disrupting of destroying US classified computer networks.”

For the remainder of the article, visit Real Clear Politics.

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