Commentary Magazine


Rethinking China

To the Editor:

Bill Gertz paints a compelling picture of the threat from China [“China’s High-Tech Military Threat, and What We’re Doing About It,” April]. But there is another high-tech threat from China that no one is talking about: Foxconn, the Taiwanese company whose manufacturing is done on the mainland.

What would happen if we went to war with China and they decided to cut off the flow of parts from Foxconn? The world would be left without parts for our electronics—including much of the command-and-control systems for our military. If we began bombing, could we really afford to take out the factories that make many of the parts for the guidance systems of the bombs as well as the planes that drop them?

With all the worries about the cyber threats and economic dangers posed by China, this seems worthy of consideration as well.

Aaron Frank
West Hartford, Connecticut

To the Editor:

I found Bill Gertz’s article on China’s military escalation fascinating and disturbing. While I concur that the U.S. military must develop effective offensive and defensive measures to deal with such a potential conflict, there is one point Mr. Gertz neglected to mention, and that is a strategic one: If the United States and its allies find themselves caught off guard by a preemptive military strike from China in the Asia-Pacific, there are always long-range nuclear options available that would immediately level that playing field. This is not necessarily a desired option, but if such countermeasures on our part are clearly delineated, it may give Beijing a moment of pause before initiating military action.

Barry Taff
Los Angeles, California

To the Editor:

Bill Gertz’s article was sobering, indeed. The non-expert, such as myself, looks at the way China sides with our enemies every chance it gets. They’ve done so with Iran, Syria, and others. It should be fairly obvious that China is not the “friend” and economic ally it is often claimed to be. China is like the Snopes family symbolism in the novels of William Faulkner: grasping at everything, trying to survive, thrive, build its own empire. And it is doing so in its own unique way. I agree with Mr. Gertz that we need to continue to wise up, and I’m re-thinking my own previous support for cutting our defense spending.

Jack Heaton
Address withheld

Bill Gertz writes:

Chinese leaders often explain their military buildup as part of a drive for increasing “comprehensive national power.” That term includes economic, diplomatic, intelligence, and other power, along with military power. I thank Aaron Frank for making the correct point that global economic integration with China creates new vulnerabilities and risks for national security as companies, both American and foreign, become reliant on Beijing as a manufacturing base and thus increase the risk for Chinese economic warfare in a future crisis or conflict.

Similarly, Barry Taff raises an important point about the need for strategic nuclear deterrence against China, which remains the only nuclear power in the world that is vastly expanding its strategic nuclear arsenal. This strategic buildup comes at a time when the Obama administration is considering radical cuts, possibly down to as few as 300 deployed strategic warheads—less than current estimates of China’s stockpile. Problems of maintaining deterrence against China are compounded by Beijing’s excessive secrecy and the use of deception. China refuses to reveal, or even discuss, much about its strategic nuclear forces other than to insist they are “defensive.” Also, historical memoirs from the Soviet Union have revealed that China’s ruthless Communist leaders were prepared to sacrifice millions of Chinese citizens in a nuclear conflict as part of plans to preserve party rule during a future conflict, making deterrence more difficult.

I thank Jack Heaton for his comments. He reiterates the point I have sought frequently to make: Most specialists within the “benign China” camp seek to obscure the fact that despite its economic reformers, China remains ruled by a nuclear-armed Communist dictatorship and thus should not be afforded international status as a “normal” nation within the international system.




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