• Intelligence officers serving U.S. Indo-Pacific Command organizations describe a Chinese threat that unambiguously targets world domination. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography
     Intelligence officers serving U.S. Indo-Pacific Command organizations describe a Chinese threat that unambiguously targets world domination. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

China Drops All Camouflage About Its Aggression

November 20, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Intelligence officers cite both hard and soft power on the march toward a global takeover.


The intelligence officers responsible for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) organizations played their China cards face up as they described a nation bent on world domination at the expense of Western values and freedoms. In an overflow panel at TechNet Indo-Pacific 2019, being held November 19-21 in Honolulu, these experts—called the “2s” for their billet designation—cited facts to buttress their observations that China has abandoned its longtime cover stories and is now waging all-out competition with the institutions and nations that defined the cooperative postwar era.

Panel moderator Rear Adm. Michael Studeman, USN, the J-2 at INDOPACOM, described how China has undertaken a long march to its current adversarial position. “In the 1990s, I had hoped that China’s rise would be a story of progress toward a more open society,” he recalled. “Unfortunately, that is not what we have today and not what you’ll see any time in your lifetime.

“We now know the nature of China’s rise. We have the answer, and it’s not a good one,” he declared. “By 2049 at the latest, China expects to be the most powerful nation in the world.”

The admiral described the different ways China is expanding its influence globally. It signs up small countries to invest in major construction projects, many of which are part of its Belt and Road initiative. It lends them the money, then it wields undue influence on the construction—often with imported Chinese labor—and saddles the small nation with huge debt. China then moves in as the small nations are unable to repay the debt, and then exacts a price through influence and control.

“The Chinese black hand starts with the commercial ventures and eventually bleeds over into the security area,” Adm. Studeman explained. “The cost of doing business with China is backloaded. They focus their corrupt practices on business and power, which allows them to coerce after they co-opt. To create a client state, China assesses; grooms; consolidates; and controls people in a foreign nation. Then the PRC [People’s Republic of China] shapes host nation political, economic and foreign policy.

“Once China gets a piece of Earth [in a foreign country], they act like it’s sovereign territory,” he warranted.

Part of this effort entails shifting global opinions in favor of the Chinese model of authoritarianism. “A country that suppresses dissent at home is one that has a particular tactic that they then can protect outward,” the admiral pointed out. “'China making the world safe for authoritarianism’ is not an exaggeration.”

Capt. Trent Fingerson, USN, J-2, Special Operations Command Pacific, added to that point. “China’s [propaganda] is authoritative, repetitive, consistent and constant,” he said.

One aspect of China’s push to upend Western institutions is an ad-hoc alliance with Russia, which shares China’s desire to counter U.S. influence. While this has been troublesome to the United States and its allies, Adm. Studeman noted that this pairing is not without its drawbacks. “I think Russia, in its quiet conversations, worries about being a pawn of the Chinese,” he suggested. “Putin will have to come to terms with the idea that they will be the junior partner in that relationship.” The admiral added that the relationship between Russia and China has “quiet points of friction” that the United States should exploit.

Militarily, the United States should respond with better training and doctrine based on China’s clear goals, Col. Michael A. Marti, USA, G-2, U.S. Army Pacific, said, “What’s most concerning to me is what [China] is going to do with its force modernization. China has looked at our doctrine, and they have looked at Russia’s. They are organizing their ground forces into brigade combat teams, like we have.” The colonel added that this could give the United States an edge in countering Chinese forces.

Col. Jacob J. Holmgren, USAF, A-2, Pacific Air Forces, warned that China’s incorporation of mid-air refueling capabilities extends the reach of its bomber forces far beyond its borders. “Their stealth technology, especially the J-20, is something that we are watching closely,” he added.

“China also has a very respectable EW and cyber capability, and that probably is the one thing that keeps me up at night,” the colonel allowed.

Capt. Anthony Butera, USN, N2/N39, U.S. Pacific Fleet, expressed, “Our [aircraft] carriers are at risk, but I would not call them vulnerable. That implies weakness.” He added, “The pressure of PRC maritime forces is increasing, but we are meeting that pressure. So are our partners."

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We were in Jamaica last February. Chinese engineers are busy building the road from Montego Bay to the south coast...where they are building a massive port to serve traffic in the region. Coupled with the Chinese now owning the lease on the Panama Canal, creates problems in the area. The largest Embassy outside of Mosul Iraq is in Port au Prince and it is bristling with antennae.

China while taking over other countries like cockroaches take over a house, building islands, stealth aircraft, and stealing what ever they want Have to be put in place before they get too powerful. Do we face this or leave it to our grandkids? It has to be done, like it or not.

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