Global Security Headlines

Monday, January 3, 2011

Chinese Missile Buildup - Opportunity or Threat?

Three countries worry policymakers the most in Western capitals: China, North Korea, and Iran.  The first two have nuclear weapons and the latter is in hot pursuit.

All three are proliferators of missile and nuclear technology to some degree. China and Iran seek to dominate their respective regions at the expense of US power.

China's many objectives, one focus
An important article last weekend in the Washington Post tackles China's conventional missile buildup: Why China's missiles should be our focus.

Authors Mark Stokes and Dan Blumenthal see the New START ratified by the US Senate last December as misguided given Beijing's conventional short and intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles.

Beijing benefits as a non-signatory of the US-Russian INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) Treaty from the Cold War.

That China is building military power commensurate with its growing economic power is not news. While intense debate centers upon Beijing's many objectives, an ''overriding'' focus remains reunification with Taiwan.

Missile Manipulation
China's most aggressive missile program in the world threatens the East Asian power calculus. The article lists the multifaceted missile program. (see an graphic)

Its over 1,200 short-range missiles are aimed squarely at manipulating and recapturing the ''renegade province,'' Taiwan.

Its long and intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles advance an anti-access/denial strategy to deter any US defense of Taiwan given Washington's formal commitment to Taipei.

In particular, Beijing's DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), the so-called ''carrier killer'' concerns defense planners.

For decades, China has pursued a gambit to use land-based missiles to threaten targets at sea.

The Chinese missile buildup is an opportunity to soberly size up its existential threat to the Western Pacific, home for two of the world's largest economies and strategic choke points.

The credibility of the US commitment to Taiwan is under strain as China's Second Artillery intends to intimidate neighbors (India and Japan) and drive the US out of the region.

The arrival of the Asian century, China's rise to global power status, and relative US decline portend seismic shifts in global security.

It is time for Realpolitik approaches by freedom-loving states to counter the emerging military threats from the China challenge to the tense peace in the region today.
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