War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable

RAND – Premeditated war between the United States and China is very unlikely, but the danger that a mishandled crisis could trigger hostilities cannot be ignored. Thus, while neither state wants war, both states’ militaries have plans to fight one. As Chinese anti-access and area-denial (A2AD) capabilities improve, the United States can no longer be so certain that war would follow its plan and lead to decisive victory. This analysis illuminates various paths a war with China could take and their possible consequences.

The PLA’s Latest Strategic Thinking on the Three Warfares

Jamestown Foundation – Beijing’s response to the unfavorable South China Sea arbitration outcome has highlighted an important aspect of its military strategy, the “three warfares” (三战). Consisting of public opinion warfare (舆论战), psychological warfare (心理战), and legal warfare (法律战), the three warfares have been critical components of China’s strategic approach in the South China Sea and beyond. In peacetime and wartime alike, the application of the three warfares is intended to control the prevailing discourse and influence perceptions in a way that advances China’s interests, while compromising the capability of opponents to respond.

Chinese Threaten Japan, Australia Over South China Sea; Time For US FON Ops?

Breaking Defense – What are China’s intentions in the South China Sea? It’s a question intelligence analysts, diplomats and the senior leadership of the United States and its Pacific allies are all asking in the wake of a range of increasingly belligerent and threatening comments and actions by the rising global power. Perhaps most worrying is that the Kyodo News Agency and other Japanese outlets have reported variations of a story that China’s ambassador to Tokyo said in late June that the Japanese Self Defense Force would “cross a red line” if they took part of Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea. “(China) will not concede on sovereignty issues and is not afraid of military provocations,” Cheng is reported to have told Japanese officials.

China’s Expanding Ability to Conduct Conventional Missile Strikes on Guam

CIMSEC – Observers of China’s September 2015 military parade witnessed the surprise introduction of a new road-mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), the DF-26, reported to feature nuclear, conventional, and antiship variants and a range of 3,000–4,000 kilometers (km) (1,800–2,500 miles [mi])1—greater than any of China’s current systems except the ICBMs in its nuclear arsenal. This range would cover U.S. military installations on Guam, roughly 3,000 km (1,800 mi) from the Chinese mainland, prompting some analysts and netizens to refer to the missile as the “Guam Express” or “Guam Killer” (derived from the term “carrier killer” used to refer to China’s shorter-range DF-21D antiship ballistic missile).2 Combined with improved air- and sea-launched cruise missiles and modernizing support systems, the DF-26 would allow China to bring a greater diversity and quality of assets to bear against Guam in a contingency than ever before.

China Steps Up Naval Presence Near Key Disputed Island

FreeBeacon – China is building up maritime security forces around a key disputed island in the South China Sea that the Pentagon has warned China not to militarize. According to Pentagon officials, the number of Chinese maritime security vessels near Scarborough Shoal, in the Spratly Islands, has risen sharply over the past several weeks.

NATO’s New Role – The Alliance’s Response to a Rising China

US Naval War College Review – As Sino-American security competition increases, it is reasonable to expect that China will try to divide the United States from key NATO members through diplomatic and economic means. Members of the transatlantic community should anticipate this challenge and be prepared to meet it. In doing so, the normative aspect of the alliance can play a key role.

Don’t Push China Too Hard After SCS Ruling

Breaking Defense – “To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape,” Sun Tzu wrote 2,500 years ago. It’s a stratagem – often called the “golden bridge” – that the US and its allies would do well to remember tomorrow morning, when a UN tribunal ruling on disputes in the South China Sea will almost certainly deliver China a legal and political defeat. Chinese nationalists will stridently demand retaliation. We need to give Xi Jinping room to deescalate instead without losing face.

The submarines and rivalries underneath the South China Sea

BBC – A tribunal is about to rule on China’s territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea. But Beijing’s desire for control is about much more than rocks above the water, argues analyst Alexander Neill. It is also central to China’s plans for a submarine nuclear force able to break out into the Pacific Ocean.

How does China’s first aircraft carrier stack up?

CSIS – The entry of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, into service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) attracted considerable attention from both the Chinese press and military observers around the world. For some, the Liaoning was a symbol of China’s global power; for others, it represented a significant first step toward a more muscular and assertive Chinese navy.