Skip to comments.China’s Deceptively Weak (and Dangerous) Military
Posted on 02/23/2014 5:35:57 AM PST by Lower Deck
While recent years have witnessed a tremendous Chinese propaganda effort aimed at convincing the world that the PRC is a serious military player that is owed respect, outsiders often forget that China does not even have a professional military. The PLA, unlike the armed forces of the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other regional heavyweights, is by definition not a professional fighting force. Rather, it is a party army, the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Indeed, all career officers in the PLA are members of the CCP and all units at the company level and above have political officers assigned to enforce party control. Likewise, all important decisions in the PLA are made by Communist Party committees that are dominated by political officers, not by operators. This system ensures that the interests of the partys civilian and military leaders are merged, and for this reason new Chinese soldiers entering into the PLA swear their allegiance to the CCP, not to the PRC constitution or the people of China.
(Excerpt) Read more at thediplomat.com ...
I'd say that the US is in a better position, and that our front-line military (so to speak) understand how to get results in difficult circumstances. But this part struck me:
Chinas military is intentionally organized to bureaucratically enforce risk-averse behavior
From an acquisition stand-point, the US is very much in this same position. We spend money badly, we avoid failure like the plague, we can't settle on requirements. We end up with a lot of failure because we try to play it safe and avoid all risk.
China has the best infrastructure in the world for a country of its low economic standing. They are spending close to $200b on defense per year. I expect they will spend it well. China’s not the first country to lose a sub with all hands while on peacetime maneuvers, and it won’t be the last. The sub that sank was a 50 year-old design and built at least 20 years prior to the accident. In other words, it was a dinosaur doing what old equipment occasionally does - malfunction in critical ways. In contrast, the USS Thresher was a 3 year old boat when it sank in 1963, while the USS Scorpion was a 9 year old boat when it sank in 1968. F-22’s have crashed due to oxygen-related malfunctions, but no one calls that the result of a readiness problem. The writer’s being way too glib in his conclusions.
From a tactical perspective in the Army, thankfully, we're not like that. Mistakes are expected, even encouraged--so long as the Soldier/leader learns from them. In this era of the drawdown, though, it makes me wonder if we're going to start hammering people who make mistakes. I get the impression the Air Force and Navy have typically been brutal in that regard.
The biggest blunder in a history of US foreign policy is a Nixon&Kissinger’s romance with Red China. It is believed that Soviets, after they have abandoned communism in favour of a softer socialism were seeking US neutrality towards their planned military operation against Stalinists in China in 1970, but US has de-facto declared alliance with the Chinese instead. It has led to a series of communist-inspired decisions including backing Chinese-allied Pakistanis against when-neutral India, moving US technology to China, 9/11 terror etc.
A recent defeat of US economy by Chinese industry and commerce is a direct consequence of these policies.
I thought our Military has now pledged allegiance to Bammy.
Nixon was one of the worst Presidents ever and this has nothing to do with Watergate. Nixon shows what a moderate Republican will do the be ‘liked’ by his enemies. In the end they just ran over him after he gave them everything.
Nixon is the worst? Really? I didn’t like Nixon but anything he did has been totally eclipsed by the past 4 administrations
Yes. The EPA etc... He set this country up to fail for appeasement.
It sounds a little like George Washington’s complaints about the militia and the reason why the Prussian drill master von Steuben marched the Continentals all over Valley Forge that winter of 1777-78.
What about empowering Red China? Clinton is unfairly granted the most credit in this, he has just followed Nixon.
If not for Nixon and Kissinger, China could have been overrun by Russian and East German forces back to 1970 the way NATO did to Saddam in 1990s.
It could have been another docile former SSR in class of Kazakhstan or Mongolia by now.
The Soviets backed the Chinese, North Korean and North Vietnamese communists with money, training and equipment to kill 100K GI's, and were still backing the DRV at the time they were contemplating a punitive expedition against China. What did they expect Nixon to do?
Overall, Nixon's decision made little difference. Before Deng Xiaoping's decision to adopt capitalism (which he dubbed "socialism by other means") in 1979, China's economy was moribund, even though Nixon's opening occurred in 1972. After visiting non-Communist Southeast Asia, and noticing that the China's former vassal states were prospering while China was living an impoverished hand-to-mouth existence, Deng opened up the Chinese economy, and the irreversible result was decades of double digit growth that is still ongoing. It's no different from what happened with Soviets - it was the Soviets who held the Soviet empire's economy back, not the embargo. Thatcher was as anti-Soviet as anybody else, but she refused to let that get in the way of purchasing Soviet natural gas.
As soon as the Chinese decided to let in foreign investment, American manufacturers faced the choice of spending more money making widgets elsewhere because of an American embargo and losing market share in the world markets because of price competition or pressuring the US government to end the embargo. The Europeans had been trading with China for decades and stood to benefit from being able to make their products at lower cost due to China's low labor costs combined with superior infrastructure and minimal red tape (compared to other countries with similar labor costs). Bottom line is that there was no avoiding what happened. Economically-speaking, China bound itself hand and foot from 1949 to 1979 and it was China that ultimately unshackled its own economy starting in 1979. It wasn't even a China-specific thing. It was merely following in the footsteps of its non-communist former vassal states in Southeast Asia.
I almost said the writer is declaring the PLA to be a national guard developed to protect the government.
That is true in a sense because the present army (armed forces) evolved from the civil war army that defeated Chang Kai Sheck and the Nationalist.
If we date the success of Mao to say 1950 or so, the PLA is relatively young, only 60. The evolution continued such that it is only now realizing there are threats both real and imagined from external sources.
There must be tremendous friction internally about how to proceed into totally uncharted territory. China’s primary potential enemy is either China or Russia.
Because what country wouldn't want air quality like they have in Beijing or Shanghai, or water like they have in Sochi?
This kind of thing has been true since the dawn of human history. A monarch's or dictator's army exists to protect him. Hitler, Stalin, Genghis Khan, Alexander and Napoleon seem to have had no trouble winning battles despite this fact.
What we did to our Military following the Vietnam war is what we are now doing following Iraq and Afghanistan. It took Ronald Reagan to rebuild the military after the post Vietnam wind down. Who is going to rebuild it this time and when? Criticize China’s Army all you want, but they are pouring resources into modernizing it, while we are going in the other direction.
The “political enforcement” in the ranks really makes no difference if it is done for the “party” as it is in China, or if it is done by a very politicized and politically monolithic officer class “for the emperor and the nation” as it was in Japan; as Japan showed, it can still be a formidable foe.
Quality of training, of equipment, of resources and of strategic military thinking accord as much advantage as being a “professional” military.
I would not UNDER estimate China’s military ability on the basis of its tight political control.
China has also built the worlds largest army of cyber warriors, and the planets second largest fleet of drones, to exploit areas where the U.S. and its allies are under-defended.
I would assume the USA has the largest fleet of drones...
I never even heard that China has drone capacities, let alone the worlds second largest fleet...
Thanks Lower Deck.
Heck, Iowa farmers have “drone capabilities”!
They might have lots of stuff, but they have hardly any active-duty troops with any actual combat experience. The last significant fight the Chinese got into was a border war with Vietnam in 1979.
Mao’s success probably goes back to the Chinese civil war in the Twenties. The PR in the Chinese countryside, where my grandparents lived, seemed to favor the Communist cadres who behaved “correctly” to the peasants and farmers while Nationalist soldiers were reputed to steal (not always true). The PLA (People’s Liberation Army, which also constitutes the Navy and Air Force) can possibly be dated back to the Communist Eighth Route Army.
The central government of Chiang Kai-shek seemed to be a government in name only, allowing numerous warlords and the Soong family (Madame Chiang’s maiden name) to serve in its place.
After the Sino-Japanese War (started in Manchuria in the early Thirties) numerous Americans naively attempted to negotiate a settlement between the Communists and Nationalists, not realizing what we all know now about Communism.
I am not blaming Clinton or Bush I, Bush II or 0bama for empowering China. But the damage they have done is greater than anything Nixon did. Your scenario assumes that the USSR would have overrun China and that no one but Nixon would have opened the world to China. I don’t believe the USSR would have even attempted it. Nixon was a terrible President but he is far from the worst especially considering the current resident.
The way we are downsizing, pretty soon we wont have that many active duty troops with actual Combat experience. Have you seen the projections of the Active Army strength in the next few years? A lot of good Officers and NCO’s are going to be forced out and in that environment, a lot of good men will take the first good opportunity afforded them to voluntarily leave. I served in the Vietnam and Post Vietnam Army and I know exactly what is going on now and it is criminal.
"Because what country wouldn't want air quality like they have in Beijing or Shanghai, or water like they have in Sochi?"
I don't think that would have happened. You let state's maintain their own pollution controls. The federal government has no business with it.
>>I dont believe the USSR would have even attempted it.<<
Why not? East Bloc was at peak of power in 1970 and China was ox and cart at the time.
Ox and Cart is a little of an understatement. They still had one big weapon and that is called Manpower. Just ask any ofrmer member of the 1st Cavalry Division who was at the Choson Resevoir in the early 50’s when the Chinese came screaming across the Yalu River in Korea.
Aircraft carriers are a measure of might for the last war - the one that's already been fought. China's a threat in the real world of today.
Browse videos of Polish, German, let alone Soviet military drills from the 1970s on Youtube.
Any of the above are finest military by modern standards, let alone 1970s. An alliance like that could have been steamrolled Red China without breaking a sweat. And we are talking about conventional forces only, ignoring some 40,000 nuclear warheads East Bloc possessed in 1970.
Sounds just like what our military is being transformed into.
Sir, With all due respect, I think you missed the central point. Spending 200 billion on a military where every order from company sized units up is a matter of an open debate between the military officer on the scene and the communist party officer on the scene is, to use an anatomical comparison, rather like the surgeon intentionally sewing the scissors into the patients gut following an operation. This we KNOW is not a good plan and rational rational people can predict that the patient will not perform very well when he tries to get up off the table.
In the instant case, an Army debating orders from the top down is doomed in the lightning speed of modern warfare. Anyone questioning this Should just Talk to any SURVIVIVING OFFICERS in Husseins Army.
On the Thresher, that incident occurred in 63 on a brand new nuclear powered submarine in DEEP WATER while on sea trials not a few miles offshore on a mature diesel boat. Our enemies can fantasize to the contrary all they want but it is doubtful the US Navy was having any “crew” issues on Thresher. You are correct that new experimental military equipment like the Raptor and the Thresher (in 63) are inherently dangerous. Mature diesel boats offshore are not comparable to the Raptor or brand new nuclear powered submarines back in 63.
Finally, Marxist/Lenists/Socialists do not have a history of being efficient with other people’s money. History tells us that it is much more likely that sizable portions of the 200 billion are ending up in private foreign accounts. You can Google up ample recent examples of “Chinese” corruption and execution of those involved.
You say the “the writer” is being “way to glib in his conclusions”. With all due respect to you sir, and in my opinion, you are being “way to glib in your comparisons” of a Third World “Political military” to the most modern and experienced and “professional” military on the planet.
The EPA is a front for socialists. Attention was already directed at air and water quality problems before the EPA was established. This is like the situation with the unions. Workers were already demanding better conditions and pay before the unions organized and took over. The problems would have been solved without some heavy-handed authority putting themselves in charge.
The EPA and other enviro-jerks have given us toilets that don’t flush, appliances that don’t work, cars that are small and dangerous, various formulations of products that prove to be more hazardous than what they replaced, detergents that don’t clean, inhalers that don’t work, pesticides that don’t kill bugs, violations of property rights, regulations that kill development or stall it for years, and higher prices on almost everything.
Yeah, thanks, Nixon, for all that. Oh, and don’t forget taking us off the gold standard and wage and price controls. With Republicans like that, who needs Democrats?
The real question here is WHY DON'T the Chinese have helicopters? And the answer is that human labor is so cheap in China it's cheaper than machines.
For patrolling, men on horseback have some advantages over helicopters. Horses are quieter than copters, so they don't advertise their arrival from miles away. Horses are cheaper than copters, not needing as much money for fuel and maintenance. They are right there on the ground, where they can observe footprints and other signs that intruders are in the area. And if they have radios, then backup can come by helicopter real fast.
Makes a thorny topic easily digested, even if on some points I disagree.
Though I can only imagine the fear generated at the sound of Chinese bugles during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir.
Which is great, if you can tell me how the pollution from one state will remain in that state alone.
"Which is great, if you can tell me how the pollution from one state will remain in that state alone"
You let things play out in federal court then.
Do you have a vested interest in the EPA? Do you work for GE? I'm just curious.
Great. Cheap and better. That’s confidence building for out side. Thanks for sharing PapaBear - interesting insights you’ve got there...
True about the ox and the cart. But they were also one of the Soviets’ largest customers for arms sales. Plus there were enough Chinese to fight the Soviets for years without any real modern weapons.
But I would not count too heavily on the handicaps of a politicized military. As the Red Army demonstrated in WW II, with enough cannon fodder you can survive the blight of political officers.
To my understanding China is now in the process of operating or obtaining four aircraft carriers.
This will make China the second-largest operator after America.
Yet we still send American jobs there.
Something is going to give.
This may be believed by you but it was never considered a serious option by those involved at the time. While history has shown that such an adventure by the Soviets would never have happened, allusion to a Soviet threat was used to good advantage by Nixon and Kissinger in Peking.
You’re right - China wants a larger role in the waters around their country. It easily could become a problem...
Good points and, yes, the Chinese demonstrated some MASS assault formations that in some cases carried the day back in the Korean War.
But, in desert storm, in many cases, we found our own weapons more fearsome than even their designers imagined. One example was the highway of death where we were condemned worldwide for killing too many too fast.
With 9,000 round per minute chain guns on helicopters and warthogs, massed infantry Chinese Korean War style is just unimaginable slaughter. In Korea, just a few chain guns would have changed the results and Panmunjom likely would not exist OR it would be on the Yalu.
If the Chinese expect to go up against a modern professional military like the US with Korean War style MASS formations, they are going to lose an entire Army.
And, don’t forget tactical nukes which have never been employed at all as far as I know and definitely not against MASSEd troop formations.