WASHINGTON (AP), China's increasing military power and drive to overthrow America in the Asia-Pacific are causing havoc with the U.S. defense system. American officials see problems quickly building on multiple fronts, including Beijing's growing nuclear arsenal, its advancements in space, cyber, and missile technologies, as well as threats to Taiwan.
According to Gen. John Hyten (the No. The second-ranking U.S. military official, who was previously in charge of U.S. nukes and oversaw space operations for the Air Force.
A potential shift in global power balance that has been favored by the United States for many decades is at stake. While a realignment that favors China is not a threat to the United States, it could cause problems for U.S.-Asia alliances. Biden administration policy review on global troop basing, nuclear weapons and overall defense strategy may provide new clues as to how the Pentagon will deal with China's challenge.
Officials are still amazed at the rapid gains Beijing has made. So rapid that the Biden administration is trying to reorient U.S. foreign policy and defense policy.
China recently tested a hypersonic weapon that could orbit Earth partially before returning to the atmosphere. The weapon can then glide on a path to its target, allowing it to fly at a speed that is surprising. Although the weapon system is designed to evade U.S. anti-missile defenses, Beijing claimed it was testing a space vehicle that can be used to carry out maneuverable missions to its target. However, officials from the United States were surprised by the results.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said that the test was very close in being a Sputnik Moment. This is similar to the 1957 launch by the Soviet Union of the first space satellite. It caught the entire world off guard and raised fears about the United States' technological lag. The Soviet Union was eventually bankrupted by a nuclear arms race and a space race.
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Milley and other U.S. officials declined to reveal details about the Chinese test because they were classified. Milley called it extremely concerning for the United States, but said that China's military modernization poses far greater problems.
He said that this is only one weapon system. The Chinese military capabilities go beyond that. They are expanding quickly in space, cyber, and then in traditional domains like land, sea, and air.
Private satellite imagery has shown that China may be increasing its arsenal of land-based intercontinental missiles (ICBMs) in recent months.
Hans Kristensen is a nuclear weapons expert from the Federation of American Scientists. He claims that China has more than 10 times as many ICBM silos in operation today, and there are 250 ICBM silos currently under construction. The U.S. military has 400 active ICBM Silos and 50 reserves.
Pentagon officials and defense hawks at Capitol Hill point out China's modernization to be a key reason for rebuilding the U.S. nuke arsenal. This project is expected to cost over $1 billion over 30 year, plus sustainment costs.
Fiona Cunningham is an assistant professor of politics at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a specialist on Chinese military strategy and its concern about U.S. intentions.
Cunningham stated that China's nuclear modernization does not give it the ability to strike first against the U.S. nukes. This was an important source of competition during the Cold War. It does, however, limit the effectiveness U.S. efforts to strike the Chinese nuclear arsenal pre-emptively.
Some analysts worry that Washington will be unable to bring the Chinese into security negotiations because it is worried about getting into an arms race against Beijing. The Congress is also increasingly focused on China, and supports spending increases for space and cyber operations as well as hypersonic technologies. Trump's plan to arm guided missile submarines with hypersonic weaponry has led to a push to include money in the next defense budget.
The United States has been closely following China's increase in defense investment for decades and was concerned that Beijing would seek to be a global power. For at least 20 years, Washington had been more focused on fighting al-Qaida or other terrorist threats in Iraq or Afghanistan. This began to change with the Trump administration's 2018 elevation of China and Russia to the top of the defense priorities list, replacing terrorist threats as the No. The No. 1 threat.
Russia is still a greater strategic threat than the United States, despite China's nuclear arsenal being far more powerful than Russia's. Milley and others argue that Beijing is a greater long-term threat because of its economic power, which is far greater than Russia's, and is investing rapidly in military modernization.
If we don't change the trend, Beijing will surpass Russia in military strength in the next few years, according to Hyten, who, after serving as vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff for two years, is retiring in November. It will happen.
Biden's administration claims it is determined to compete with China. It relies on an international network of allies that can provide a source of strength beyond Beijing. This was the core of Biden's decision to share nuclear propulsion technology with Australia. It will allow it to acquire a fleet conventionally-armed submarines to fight China. This was a positive for Australia but it was devastating for Washington's oldest ally France, who saw its $66 million submarine sale to Australia cancelled.
Another concern is Taiwan. Senior U.S. military officials have warned this year that China is likely to accelerate its timetable for capturing Taiwan. This island democracy is widely considered the most likely trigger for a potential U.S.-China conflict.
Although the United States has always pledged to support Taiwan's defense, it has intentionally left it unclear as to how far it would go to respond to an attack by China. When President Joe Biden said Oct. 21 that America would defend Taiwan if China attacked it, it seemed to have abandoned that ambiguity.
Biden stated that he had made a promise to do so. Later, the White House stated that he wasn't changing U.S. policies. The United States does not support Taiwanese independence and is committed to providing defense arms.
This report was contributed by Nomaan Merchant, Washington, Associated Press.