Skip to comments.China's PLA Sees Value in Pre-emptive Strike Strategy
Posted on 08/11/2003 3:57:03 PM PDT by Spruce
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2003 The military strategy of "shock and awe" used to stun the Iraqi military in the opening campaign of Operation Iraqi Freedom might be used by the Chinese if military force is needed to bring Taiwan back under communist control.
According to the released recently The Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China, the country's military doctrine now stresses elements such as "surprise, deception and pre- emption." Furthermore, the report states that Beijing believes that "surprise is crucial" for the success of any military campaign.
Taiwan, located off the coast of mainland China, claimed independence from the communist country in 1949. The island has 21 million people and its own democratic government.
China, with 1.3 billion people, claims sovereignty over the tiny island, sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and has threatened to use military force against Taiwan to reunify the country. And China's force against Taiwan could come as a surprise attack.
But "China would not likely initiate any military action unless assured of a significant degree of strategic surprise," according to the report.
The report states that Lt. Gen. Zheng Shenxia, chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army's Air Force and an advocate of pre-emptive action, believes the chances of victory against Taiwan would be "limited" without adopting a pre-emptive strategy.
The report says that China now believes pre-emptive strikes are its best advantage against a technologically superior force. Capt. Shen Zhongchang from the Chinese Navy Research Institute is quoted as saying that "lighting attacks and powerful first strikes will be widely used in the future."
China's new military thinking has evolved over the past decade. PLA observers have been studying U.S. military strategies since the first Gulf War, when they noticed how quickly U.S. forces using state-of-the-art weapons defeated Iraqi forces that in some ways resemble their own.
Since then, the report states the PLA has shifted its war approach from "annihilative," where an army uses "mass and attrition" to defeat an enemy, to more "coercive warfighting strategies."
The PLA now considers "shock power" as a crucial coercion element to the opening phase of its war plans and that PLA operational doctrine is now designed to actively "take the initiative" and "catch the enemy unprepared."
"With no apparent political prohibitions against pre- emption, the PLA requires shock as a force multiplier to catch Taiwan or another potential adversary, such as the United States, unprepared," the report states.
Ways the PLA would catch Taiwan and the U.S. off guard include strategic and operational deception, electronic warfare and wearing down or desensitizing the opponent's political and military leadership. Another objective would be to reduce any indication or warning of impending military action, the report states.
Preparing for a possible conflict with Taiwan and deterring the United States from intervening on Taiwan's behalf is the "primary driver" of China's military overhaul, according to this year's report. Over the course of the next decade the country will spend billions to counter U.S. advances in warfare technology, the report states.
Credible nuclear deterrence works. We saw it in the cold war, and there is no reason to doubt that it would work in this case. Taiwan has the technological base to rapidly develop a powerful nuclear force, which they should do in secret, and then announce it to a surprised world.
I don't think they should rely on the U.S. to defend them. You can't take chances when faced with a huge, evil, and implacable enemy like communist China. They're fools not to have done it already.
They grasp the idea but we grasp the concept.
Another brilliant plan in the tradition of The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution.
Stick to beating Falun Gong women--if the PLA thinks it can kill U.S. forces without paying a price it confirms tertiary syphilis.
All well and good to possess Sovremenny destroyers--using them indicates a death wish.
Gen. Xiong Guangkai was warned by Condoleezza Rice against irresponsible threats.
Apparently the PRC believes it can install an administration which will not honor the Bush statement that "we will do whatever's necessary to defend Taiwan".
..or in other words, they know darn well that if they can't make their invasion fait a complete within about 30 days, they're toast against a U.S. lead retaliation effort.
On the other hand, their pre-emption doctrine provides a solid basis for future friendly relations with both Taiwan and the U.S.A.. < /end sarcasm >
It explains their continuing interest in acquiring operational footholds in stragetic locations in our (U.S.A.'s) backyard. Never trust a Commie or Democrat; lying is what they're all about.
Well, since WWII nobody has ever recognized Taiwan as anything other than a part of the blurry notion of "China." When they had nation-state status from 1949 to 1971, it was only as "Republic of China" under Nationalist (KMT) rule - the Communists weren't recognized by the UN for those 22 years. Since then Taiwan's become an independent nation-state in all but name, though it's not likely it'll ever gain international recognition as such. So if we ask the Chinese "When was Taiwan ever part of China?" they'll simply respond "When was Taiwan ever recognized by the international community as a sovereign non-Chinese state?"
The second is Taiwan. No Chinese Imperial dynasty paid the least attention to Taiwan, or bothered to claim it. The Manchus did, though, in 1683, and ruled it in a desultory way, as a prefecture of Fujian Province, until 1887, when it was upgraded to a province in its own right. Eight years later it was ceded to Japan, whose property it remained until 1945. In its entire history, it has been ruled by Chinese people seated in China's capital for less than four years. China's current attitudes to Taiwan are, I think, pretty well known.
And the third stumbling block to the restoration of China's greatness is .the United States. To the modern Chinese way of thinking, China's proper sphere of influence encompasses all of East Asia and the western Pacific. This does not mean that they necessarily want to invade and subjugate all the nations of that region, though they certainly do want to do just that to Taiwan and some groups of smaller islands. For Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Micronesia, etc., the old imperial-suzerainty model would do well enough, at least in the short term. These places could conduct their own internal affairs, so long as they acknowledged the overlordship of Beijing, and, above all, did not enter into alliances, nor even close friendships, with other powers.
Which, of course, too many of them have done, the competitor power in every case being the U.S. It is impossible to overstate how angry it makes the Chinese to think about all those American troops in Japan, Korea, and Guam, together with the U.S. Seventh Fleet steaming up and down in "Chinese" waters, and electronic reconnaissance planes like the EP-3 brought down on April 1 operating within listening distance of the mainland. If you tackle Chinese people on this, they usually say: "How would you feel if there were Chinese troops in Mexico and Jamaica, and Chinese planes flying up and down your coasts?" Leaving aside the fact that front companies for the Beijing regime now control both ends of the Panama Canal, as well as Freeport in the Bahamas, the answer is that the United States is a democracy of free people, whose government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, so that the wider America's influence spreads, the better for humanity: while China is a corrupt, brutish, and lawless despotism, the close containment of which is a pressing interest for the whole human race. One cannot, of course, expect Chinese people to be very receptive to this answer.
Or, indeed, to anything much we have to say on the subject of their increasing militant and assertive nationalism. We simply have no leverage here. It is no use trying to pretend that this is the face-saving ideology of a small leadership group, forced on an unwilling populace at gunpoint. The Chinese people respond eagerly to these ultra-nationalist appeals: That is precisely why the leadership makes them. Resentment of the U.S., and a determination to enforce Chinese hegemony in Asia, are well-nigh universal among modern mainland Chinese. These emotions trump any desire for constitutional government, however much people dislike the current regime for its corruption and incompetence. Find a mainlander, preferably one under the age of thirty, and ask him which of the following he would prefer: for the Communists to stay in power indefinitely, unreformed, but in full control of the "three T's" (Tibet, Turkestan, Taiwan); or a democratic, constitutional government without the three T's. His answer will depress you. You can even try this unhappy little experiment with dissidents: same answer.
Is there anything we can do about all this? One thing only. We must understand clearly that there will be lasting peace in East Asia when, and only when, China abandons her atavistic fantasies of imperial hegemony, withdraws her armies from the 2 million square miles of other people's territory they currently occupy, and gets herself a democratic government under a rule of law. Until that day comes, if it ever does, the danger of war will be a constant in relations between China and the world beyond the Wall, as recent events in the South China Sea have illustrated. Free nations, under the indispensable leadership of the United States, must in the meantime struggle to maintain peace, using the one, single, and only method that wretched humanity, in all its millennia of experience, has so far been able to devise for that purpose: Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.***
Such weapons would directly threaten what many believe would be America's best form of ballistic-missile defense: a system of space-based surveillance and tracking sensors, connected with land-based sensors and space-based missile interceptors. Such a system could negate any Chinese missile attack on the U.S. homeland.
China may be a long way from contemplating a ballistic missile attack on the U.S. homeland. But deployment of American space-based interceptors also would negate the missiles China is refitting to threaten Taiwan and U.S. bases in Okinawa and Guam. And there's the rub, as far as the PLA is concerned.
Clearly, Beijing's draft treaty to ban deployment of space-based weapons is merely a delaying tactic aimed at hampering American progress on ballistic-missile defense while its own scientists develop effective countermeasures.
What Beijing hopes to gain from this approach is the ability to disrupt American battlefield awareness--and its command and control operations--and to deny the U.S. access to the waters around China and Taiwan should the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty lead to conflict between the two Chinas.
China's military thinkers are probably correct: The weaponization of space is inevitable. And it's abundantly clear that, draft treaties and pious rhetoric notwithstanding, they're doing everything possible to position themselves for dominance in space. That's worth keeping in mind the next time they exhort "peace-loving nations" to stay grounded.***
They will have the advantage to begin, but if they fall short it will become fall back, fall back, fall back. They won't be able to try again for a few hundred years.