A New Grand Strategy to Counter the Rise of Communist China
A proposed comprehensive national security strategic framework which could be utilized by U.S. leaders to counter Communist China's grand plan to become the world's global hegemon.
Chinese President Xi Jinping reviewing a PLA military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan was a gift to Beijing, providing it with a useful pretext to accelerate its timetable to accomplish its longtime goal to retake control of the island. The Biden administration has referred to the People’s Republic of China’s recent military exercises surrounding Taiwan in response to her visit as a blockade. Meanwhile, Chinese cyberattacks have escalated by a factor of twenty-three times to the level of millions of attacks every day. Ominously, China also fired four nuclear-capable Dong Feng ballistic missiles over the capital of Taipei.
After suspending its one-week long Joint Blockade Exercise against Taiwan, China announced the resumption of military drills in the skies and waters surrounding Taiwan but, notably, did not specify when or where they would occur. These unprecedented Chinese military exercises surrounding Taiwan may become increasingly frequent, lulling Taiwan into a false sense of security and further obscuring the timing of China’s long-planned final offensive, which may begin without warning. In addition, there have been a number of economic indicators that Beijing may be planning for the outbreak of a conflict in the Pacific within the next several months. I assess that President Xi Jingping will most likely not initiate a full blockade of Taiwan until after he is re-elected to an unprecedented third-term at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China which is expected to be held in October or early to mid November.
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In response, the Biden administration has announced plans to send U.S. warships and aircraft through the Taiwan Strait in the next two to three weeks, despite the fact that the PRC declared it to be its sovereign waters back in June, providing Beijing with a further pretext for war. Passage of the Taiwan Policy Act into law, would provide $4.5 billion in additional security assistance and formally designate Taiwan as a non-NATO ally, potentially upending America’s longstanding “One China” policy of strategic ambiguity. It would also enrage Chinese leaders and almost certainly be answered with a full Chinese blockade against Taiwan. After initially signaling it opposed the legislation, the White House has since stated it looks forward to working with Congress on the bill. However, given the fact that reunification with Taiwan has long been Beijing’s paramount focus, no amount of U.S. military aid, threats of military force or forward deployment of U.S. military forces is likely to deter China from resolving this longstanding dispute with the use of force by next year.
While some pundits boast that the U.S. could successfully repel a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and defeat the PRC in the event of all-out war, the stark reality is that given that the U.S. has no military forces on the island and does not even have any joint defensive plans with Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, it would likely take three months before the U.S. could amass the necessary military forces to even attempt to do so. Further complicating U.S. military planning to come to Taiwan’s aid is the fact that U.S. military bases in Japan, the northern Marianas and Guam would be attacked by China at the onset of any hostilities between the U.S. and the PRC and Taiwan could fall within a month of a Chinese invasion.
Moreover, given Chinese theater nuclear and conventional military superiority in the Taiwan region, any U.S. military attempt to defend the island would likely be doomed to defeat, particularly given the likelihood of its Russian and North Korean allies joining as belligerents, presenting the U.S. with a simultaneous three-front war against three nuclear powers, leading to rapid nuclear escalation and the deaths of tens of millions of Americans. As Hal Brands, author of “Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China”, has stated, “It would feature far higher risks of nuclear escalation than many observers recognize and present the United States with severe challenges of warfighting and war termination.” Admiral Richard, who commands U.S. Strategic Command, testified to Congress last year that the United States currently has no contingency plans for how to confront two allied nuclear superpowers simultaneously in a future war but is furiously working on formulating one. As the author of a new Brookings Institution report, Melanie W. Sisson, convincingly concludes, the defense of Taiwan is not a sufficiently important U.S. national interest to risk a potential nuclear war with China, let alone with Russia as well. President Richard Nixon foresaw that it would not be in our national interest to fight a war with China over Taiwan.
As revealed in the book “The Hundred Year Marathon—China’s Secret Strategy to Replace the U.S. as the Global Superpower” by Michael Pillsbury, China’s goal is not merely to conquer Taiwan, but to become the world’s mightiest economic, industrial and military superpower by 2049, which will mark the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the PRC. Beijing has been pursuing a brilliant strategy to accomplish this objective and may accomplish it as much as a quarter century ahead of schedule if the U.S. and its allies do not take immediate, concerted action to stop it. What follows is a proposed comprehensive national security strategic framework which could be utilized by U.S. leaders to counter Communist China's grand plan to become the world's global hegemon.
First, the Biden administration should provide strategic clarity by stating while the U.S. will not defend Taiwan militarily, the U.S. will go to war if any U.S. military bases, territories or military forces are attacked or if necessary to defend America’s treaty allies--Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia--from Chinese aggression. Only by staying out of a potential Sino-Taiwanese military conflict can the U.S. ensure the security of our allies in the Pacific, all of whom would likely come under immediate attack if the U.S. attempted to defend Taiwan given that there are U.S. military forces stationed in all but one of them. U.S. aircraft and warships would not be forward deployed within a few hundred miles of any Chinese military forces surrounding Taiwan to minimize the risks an inadvertent military clash could spark a full-scale war between the U.S. and the PRC.
Taking action to beef up Taiwan’s asymmetric warfare capabilities with defensive weapons such as coastal defense cruise missiles, anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles, combat drones, electronic jammers, aerial torpedoes, missile boats, minelayers and smart mines to better enable it defend itself against Chinese aggression would be well worth considering. However, U.S. policymakers should realize that an attempt to provide such weapons might be used by Beijing as a pretext to initiate a full blockade of the island in order to prevent Taiwan from ever receiving them. The U.S. should also provide Taiwan with massive food, fuel and humanitarian supplies to help it ride out any Chinese blockade.
Second, the Biden administration should act immediately to implement a policy of economic nationalism designed to restore America’s economic independence by completely decoupling the U.S. economy from China. Congress should act to indefinitely suspend Most Favored Nation trade status for the PRC and pass former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Border Adjustment Tax which would tax U.S. imports, not exports, by twenty percent. It should also end the tens of billions of taxpayer-financed subsidies the U.S. provides to Communist China each year including several billion dollars a year to subsidize trade with the PRC via the Import-Export Bank and cut off all dual-use military technology shipments to the PRC as we have already done with Russia. Moreover, Congress should pass laws designed to prevent Chinese financiers and Chinese owned companies from donating to U.S. political and business leaders to influence U.S. policy.
Meanwhile, President Biden should issue executive orders forcing U.S. investors to immediately divest the $1.3 trillion they are holding in Chinese stocks and deny Chinese access to U.S. capital markets, declare that U.S. official policy is to abolish America’s nearly $1 trillion annual trade deficit with the PRC, automatically match all U.S. tariffs to Chinese tariffs dollar for dollar and declare China a currency manipulator to kick in further tariffs and penalties. Biden should also issue executive orders ordering all U.S. multi-national companies to re-shore their manufacturing industries from the PRC to the U.S. and stop collaborating with China on high-technology development projects or face massive tax penalties totaling tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. He should ban the thousands of Chinese People’s Liberation Army and Ministry of State Security owned front companies, constituting 35% of all Chinese companies, from doing business in the U.S. and ban China from owning U.S. land, strategic assets, and natural resources including ports as well as energy and food production. The FBI has revealed that Chinese Huawei cell towers in both Washington, DC and the Midwest could disrupt U.S. nuclear launch orders potentially negating the credibility of our nuclear deterrent yet the U.S. government has done nothing to counter this clear and pressing threat thus far. Accordingly, Biden should order the immediate seizure of all Chinese-owned lands in Washington, DC, the Midwest and anywhere near U.S. military bases as well as domestic port facilities.
Biden should also issue a list of critical technologies and manufactures such as rare earths, advanced semiconductors, weapon components and pharmaceuticals that must be produced in the U.S. under the Defense Production Act to eliminate U.S. dependency on Chinese imports as swiftly as possible. Finally, the administration should negotiate the formation of a new U.S.-led trade bloc to counter increasing Chinese economic domination consisting of the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Japan and Australia, all of which are sanctioning Russia right now over its war in Ukraine, while encouraging all of our allies to pursue these same measures in their own countries. The Pacific Forum recently recommended a similar course of action. This new Western trade bloc should revive the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) military tech export control regime to embargo dual-use military technology from reaching the PRC.
Third, in the event China implements a full-scale blockade or attacks Taiwan, mobilize America’s diplomatic might to mediate a cease-fire as quickly as possible coupled with a peaceful reunification agreement between China and Taiwan based on Deng Xiaoping’s “One Country Two Systems.” Such an agreement would guarantee Taiwan a high degree of autonomy, self-governance under Kuomintang (KMT) Party leadership, political and religious rights, amnesty for all pro-independence leaders and military servicemembers along with the right to emigrate. The U.S. would only consider lessening its economic and trade sanctions against Beijing if it strictly complied with the terms of their reunification agreement with Taiwan and refrained from committing any aggressions against other countries once reunification had been achieved. A better option might be for the U.S. to mediate a reunification deal before a conflict breaks out with an effective date of January 2025 to greatly reduce the risks that China may pre-emptively attack the U.S. homeland with massive cyber and space warfare attacks under the assumption that Biden will make good on his promise to defend Taiwan militarily.
Fourth, in the realization that any strategy to counter China’s ever-increasing economic and military influence is likely to fail unless the U.S. prioritizes improving relations with Russia to divide and disrupt its military alliance with China, the administration should immediately suspend military aid to Ukraine to compel them to negotiate a compromise peace agreement with Russia. Such an agreement could be based on my fifteen point peace proposal, which the Russian government recently signaled they might support, to prevent Russia from annexing all occupied Ukrainian territory and to end the continuing threat of Russian nuclear escalation. Following the signing of such an agreement, the U.S. should fully normalize diplomatic and trade relations with Russia, negotiate phased western NATO and Russian military withdrawals from Eastern Europe as part of a mutual security agreement and sign a grand strategic partnership for peace with Russia. This would effectively neutralize Russia’s military alliance with China, which poses the greatest existential threat America has ever faced in its history.
Fifth, the U.S. should sign a non-aggression pact with China stating the intention of neither party to fight a war with each other so long as neither party attacks any of the other party’s treaty allies. Both the U.S. and the Sino-Russian alliance would agree not to deploy their warships or military aircraft within two-hundred kilometers of the other nations’ territorial frontiers, except for the Bering Strait, in order to avoid unnecessary provocations leading to potential military conflict.
Optionally, the U.S. could consider signing a trilateral sphere of influence agreement with Russia and China, as depicted above, to establish clear redlines/boundaries to our respective spheres to prevent future conflicts and incentivize U.S. leaders to stop deploying America’s military forces into Russia’s and China’s spheres of influence to provoke them to ally against and potentially attack us. Under such an agreement, China would recognize a U.S. sphere of influence over the Western Hemisphere, Western Europe, Greece, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. The U.S. would remain a member of NATO but would end its security guarantees to defend the nations of Eastern Europe as they would be outside the U.S. sphere and do not constitute vital national security interests. By withdrawing U.S. troops from Russia’s borders except for Japan, the chances of a U.S. military conflict with Russia would be greatly reduced. China would also relinquish its control of the Panama Canal and withdraw all troops and military support from Communist Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. In exchange, the U.S. would recognize a Chinese sphere of influence over Taiwan, Mongolia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa along with the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea up to the “nine-dash line.” The U.S. would recognize a Russian sphere of influence over the former Soviet republics, excepting the three Baltic republics which are NATO members, as well as the Gulf of Finland, the Barents Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk and perhaps Iran, Syria, Libya and Serbia. All three superpowers would guarantee the continued political independence (except in the case of Taiwan which would be guaranteed autonomy) of all of the nations within their respective spheres of influence.
Sixth, in an acknowledgment of the changing global balance of power, the Biden administration should abandon America’s failed, provocative and reckless grand strategy of liberal hegemony and replace it with a strategy of offshore balancing designed to minimize the risks of war with the Sino-Russian alliance, while ensuring our vital national interests, foremost of which is America’s continued existence, are safeguarded. The adoption of such a strategy would free up $150-200 billion in annual savings from closing most of our 800 US military bases abroad and bringing most of our 200,000-250,000 troops home. This funding should be used to embark on a major endeavor, with a Manhattan Project sense of urgency, to rebuild America’s strategic offensive and defensive capabilities.
Rebuilding our increasingly obsolescent and badly undersized strategic nuclear triad by re-activating our 2,000 partially-dismantled strategic warheads in reserve would serve to restore the credibility of our nuclear deterrent and counter the increasing threat of Sino-Russian nuclear supremacy. U.S. leaders should also take immediate action to deploy a comprehensive national missile defense system consisting of at least 5,000 ABM interceptors, including space based elements, and harden our critical infrastructure against the existential threats of EMP, including super solar storms, and cyber attack. These actions would likely prove far more effective in deterring aggression by our adversaries than forward deploying a large number of conventional military forces where they would be vulnerable to Sino-Russian nuclear/Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Pearl Harbor-type surprise attacks. Encouraging Japan to develop its own nuclear deterrent might also be helpful.
These important steps to free the U.S and its allies from Chinese economic dominance should be implemented as quickly as possible to eliminate China's ability to effectively blackmail the U.S. into pursuing pro-China policies or face a Chinese cut off of our manufacturing supply chains as well as to ensure that the U.S. returns to becoming self-sufficient in every critical area necessary to defend America as well as to fight and win protracted military conflicts. While cutting off America’s dependency from Chinese supply chains would no doubt be painful and result in a substantial level of economic dislocation for U.S. businesses and citizens and would certainly lead to Chinese retaliatory countersanctions, America would emerge much stronger and more prosperous after restoring its manufacturing industrial base to the level it was three decades ago. Furthermore, these actions would serve to frustrate China’s long-term ambitions even more effectively than fighting a full-scale war with the PRC over Taiwan and at much lower risk.
© David T. Pyne 2022
David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former U.S. Army combat arms and Headquarters staff officer, who was in charge of armaments cooperation with the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas from 2000-2003, with an M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He currently serves as Deputy Director of National Operations for the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and is a contributor to Dr. Peter Pry’s book “Blackout Warfare” as well as the upcoming book “Will America Be Protected?” which is due to be released later this year. He also serves as the host of the Defend America Radio Show on KTALK AM 1640 and as Editor of “The Real War” newsletter at dpyne.substack.com. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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