On November 25, 2012, China’s Xinhua state news agency reported that China successfully landed a J-15 fighter jet on its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning CV-16. Earlier this year, while addressing the National People’s Congress, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao stressed the importance of enhancing its military in order to win “local wars.”
The news of China’s first successful carrier landing is alarming considering the communist country’s aggressive tone in recent years and its ongoing territorial disputes with Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan.
Communist Chinese Aggression
On July 14, 2005, Chinese Major General Zhu Chenghu warned that in a war between the United States and China over Taiwan that China would retaliate with a nuclear assault on American cities. “If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” Maj. Zhu said. He continued, “We are ready to sacrifice all cities east of Xi’an, of course[;] the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of their cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”
Despite calls from the U.S. House of Representatives that he be dismissed from his post, Zhu remains a Major General in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the dean of the Defense Affairs Institute for China’s National Defense University. Neither has China backed down from its discussion of nuclear war.
On January 5, 2011, Japan’s Kyodo News reported that the PLA “military eyes preemptive nuclear attack in event of crisis.” Furthermore, “The Chinese military will consider launching a preemptive nuclear strike if the country finds itself faced with a critical situation in a war with another nuclear state,” such as the United States.
In May 2012, China again sounded its war drums, this time aimed at the Philippines, over the disputed Scarborough Reef (or Huangyan Island). An editorial that appeared in the Chinese daily Global Times, a subsidiary of the Communist Party-run People’s Daily, stated:
The Philippines needs to be taught a lesson for its aggressive nationalism…. For China, the standoff over Huangyan Island is a matter of sovereignty. And now Manila needs to be defeated in this area.
The Philippines, once home to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, remains a key ally of the United States. Despite China’s increasingly provocative nature and hostile tone, the Obama administration is doing everything it can to ease tensions via its new “reset” policy with Beijing.
During Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States in February 2012, President Barack Obama stated, “We welcome China’s peaceful rise. We believe that a strong and prosperous China is one that can help bring stability and prosperity to the region and the world.”
Very few, if any, U.S. presidents have been so blatant in essentially welcoming China’s rise and advocating, at least in part, a Chinese-led world order.
Obama’s remarks were made the same month he was caught on both camera and an open mic telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about U.S. missile defense, “This is my last election. After my election I will have more flexibility.” Obama’s apparent worldview for a future Sino-Soviet world order has received little to no attention from the mainstream media, especially during this past presidential election.
Since Obama’s remarks during the Chinese vice president’s visit, Xi Jinping has recently been elevated to general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Although this supposed “new” man has risen to power, Xi is a dedicated traditional Marxist-Leninist.
The son of communist revolutionary, CPC founder, and close associate of Mao Tse-tung, Xi Zhongxun, Xi Jinping has spent most of his life rising within the ranks of the Communist Party.
In 2007, Xi briefly served as secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee and first secretary of the Party Committee of the Shanghai Garrison Command, until he was elected as a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo. He was subsequently elevated to membership in the secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and was also named president of the Central Party School in Beijing, which is the Communist Party’s main school of Marxist-Leninist indoctrination.
Sidney Rittenberg, Sr., a translator for Mao and close acquaintance of Xi’s father, told Bloomberg News, “From Xi’s speeches it’s quite clear he takes Marxist theory very seriously…. Not just slogans and lip service — he tries to analyze things.”
In 2010, Xi was elevated to the vice presidency of China, and promoted to vice chairman of the Communist Party, as well as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC). Now, the Communist Party has elected Vice President Xi as both its new party chairman and CMC chairman, and he is also slated to replace incumbent Hu Jintao as the country’s president in March 2013.
Xi’s background and party affiliation considered, no one should expect anything but China’s continued commitment toward international socialism. “Our party will always be the firm leadership core of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” declared Xi in his first public speech as CPC general secretary.
It has been under this brand of Chinese socialism that the Central Military Commission successfully oversaw the first landing of a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier and announced the deployment of additional attack submarines into the Pacific.
Working in conjunction with China’s rising military prowess at sea is its potentially most significant and potent asset: non-conventional cyber weaponry.
In a paper written by Stefano Mele, a friend and a colleague of the Italian Security Professional Group, he defined a cyber weapon as:
A device or any set of computer instructions intended to unlawfully damage a system acting as a critical infrastructure, its information, the data or programs therein contained or thereto relevant, or even intended to facilitate the interruption, total or partial, or alteration of its operation.
Depending on its sophistication, a cyber weapon is capable of inflicting a wide array of damage, from minimal to totally disabling. Cyber attacks can reconfigure any number of computer systems, such as, but not limited to, domestic power grids, water treatment and sewage facilities, hospitals, communication networks, and military defense systems.
A 2012 U.S. Defense Department report warned that China is continuing to develop offensive cyber weapons that could be used against the United States. “China is investing in not only capabilities to better defend their networks, but also, they’re looking at ways to use cyber for offensive operations,” said David Helvey, acting deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, during a May 18 Defense Department briefing at the Pentagon, according to Defense News.
According to the report, in 2011, international computer networks “continued to be targets of intrusions and data theft, many of which originated within China. Although some of the targeted systems were U.S. government-owned, others were commercial networks owned by private companies whose stolen data [represent] valuable intellectual property.”
America’s aforementioned allies in the Pacific could be left virtually defenseless in a devastating first-strike cyber attack on the U.S. Pacific Command stationed at Pearl Harbor. Communications to and from U.S. surface warships and carriers could be made inoperative in a successful Chinese cyber attack on Pearl Harbor and the Pentagon.
Intelligence experts at both the National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters uncovered the makings of such a plot back in 2007, using a software program called Moonpenny to trace these plans to computers located just outside Beijing, belonging to the People’s Liberation Army.
The United States has in the past traced small-scale cyber attacks to People’s Liberation Army computers. In 2011, China’s state-run television station CCTV broadcast footage of what it described as a PLA cyber attack on U.S.-based websites. The six-second footage was later scrubbed off CCTV’s website after U.S. security analysts wrote about it, according to the Guardian.
In 2006, a Defense Department-simulated Chinese attack against the United States revealed some alarming findings. In the simulation, within the first few hours, a barrage of both anti-satellite missile and cyber attacks virtually crippled and blinded U.S. communications, followed by successful conventional Chinese military invasions of Taiwan and the neutralizing of U.S. air and naval units in the Pacific.
Many more war games since then have yielded similar results. Despite the United State’s unchallenged military hegemony, Communist Chinese forces are capable of making crippling first-strike punches, to cause serious damage and prevent immediate American retaliation. By the time the United States has regained its bearings, Taiwan could already be annexed.
Before such an event would occur, China would likely seek to forge greater ties in the Pacific with longstanding U.S. allies, ideally from a Chinese point of view, so as to diminish those allies’ assistance to the United States and assure China’s influential dominance over the Pacific.
China is already well underway in this battle for the mind of traditional U.S. allies. On May 16, 2012, during Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s visit to Beijing, Song Xiaojun, a former senior officer of the People’s Liberation Army, told him: “Australia always has to depend on somebody else, whether it is to be the ‘son’ of the US or ‘son’ of China. It depends on who is more powerful, and based on the strategic environment.” Song reminded Carr that Australia depended on exporting iron ore to China in order “to feed itself,” adding, “Frankly, it [Australia] has not done well politically.”
New Zealand — further removed from the U.S. sphere of orbit because it prevents nuclear-powered ships from docking at its ports — signed a free-trade agreement with China on April 7, 2008. This treaty, like NAFTA, is a significant step toward economic integration between the two countries by way of a common unified trade policy.
Financially and politically, this free-trade agreement further increases New Zealand’s dependency on China, making it less likely to take any joint action with the United States to contain China, especially if hostilities should break out over Taiwan. The New Zealand-China FTA is expected to come into full effect in 2019.
Across the Pacific, in South America, China is further developing its ties with ideological allies such as Hugo Chavez’ socialist Venezuela. In November 2012, Chavez announced that his country had received the first two Y-8 military freight planes that it had purchased from China the year before.
In Beijing on November 30, China and Venezuela concluded their 11th High-Level Joint Committee. Both parties signed a series of eight agreements to further cooperate in trade relations, oil, scientific, and technological fields.
“The Committee mirrors the accomplishments of more than one decade of joint efforts, during which we have developed great cooperation in economic-productive, social, trade and financial terms,” said Venezuelan Minister of Planning and Development Jorge Giordani, the chairman of the two-day committee session.
Venezuela agreed to double its oil exports to China from 500,000 to one million barrels per day by 2015. These increased oil exports will prove valuable to China, as it further tests the capability of its fighter jets to launch and land from its aircraft carrier, not to mention the tremendous additional benefit they will be in fueling China’s other military vehicles and naval warships.