China’s Response to the Sino–U.S. Trade War→The Gathering Pacific Storm

Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) has reported that Rear Admiral Lou Yuan, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, declared during a Dec. 20 speech delivered in Shenzhen, China, that the ongoing disputes over the ownership of the East and South China Seas could be resolved by sinking two US super carriers. This statement appears to run counter to China’s long-term goals.

In The Gathering Pacific Storm: Emerging US-China Strategic Competition in Defense Technological and Industrial Development, Tai Ming Cheung and Thomas G. Mahnken note in their concluding chapter “The Long-Term Implications of Future US Strategy for China and Chinese Strategy for the United States,” that

China’s efforts to develop core defense competencies in advanced areas could be undermined by being goaded into an arms race with the United States, forcing China to invest in research and development that it can ill afford and in technologies in which it is ill equipped to compete over the long term. […]

Xi Jinping appears to share this view, as he has emphasized the importance of China pursuing its own development of asymmetric technological capabilities and not simply following others. At a meeting of the Central Finance and Economics Leading Small Group in August 2014, Xi said that China should “develop its own asymmetric shashoujian capabilities and not just do exactly the same as developed countries are doing.”

Consequently, the defense technological race between the United States and China can be expected to continue for the foreseeable future, especially during Xi’s tenure to at least the early 2020s, and could even intensify depending on the overall  direction in US-China relations. While China will watch closely how the United States proceeds with its Third Offset Strategy or whatever other technology development initiatives that emerge in the coming year, Beijing will likely continue to focus on
its own priorities and not be drawn too closely into an action-reaction dynamic with a far more able innovation competitor.

Released just a few months ago, The Gathering Pacific Storm is considered by leading  experts such as Robert Work, 32nd Deputy Secretary of Defense and CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), to be “a timely, thought provoking book” and “essential reading for those concerned about the erosion of U.S. military-technical advantage.”

Cheung-Mahnken Front Cover

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*This book is in the Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security (RCCS) Series (General Editor: Geoffrey R.H. Burn).

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