Confrontation With China is Ballooning

Another balloon was sighted about 600 miles from Hawaii. At this point, we are not sure how to identify them after shooting down three which, it seems, were not Chinese spy balloons but no one is sure.  

What we do know is that our relationship with China is in a state of confusion. Our political, military, and financial leaders are not sure what it is or what to do about it. Are we in friendly competition, a Cold War, a Colder War, a Lukewarm War, or what? 

Foreign affairs commentators describe two philosophies for dealing with China: Realism or Liberalism.

Realism recognizes an adversarial relationship and advocates countering Chinese aggression.  Liberalism claims a cooperative approach will be more successful to avoid conflict and counter Chinese expansion. Which philosophy an advocate favors is generally based on institutional affiliation preference.

As noted previously, the U.S. and its allies fought a shooting war with China in Korea shortly after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) conquered China in 1949. Relations have never been cordial. The United States was the ultimate expression of Western Civilization, with its republican government and free market characteristics. As such, it was considered an enemy by all Communists and their institutions, organizations, and governments and the CCP was no exception. 


The U.S. Nixon-Kissinger efforts to reach out to China and establish cooperative relations culminated in Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. From the U.S. viewpoint, this was significant as trade was established, travel was opened, we could convince ourselves that we would “open” China to the world and it would evolve into a friendly member of the world community. America continued with that fantasy when it sponsored China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 so the U.S. and Europe could make China rich.  

These policies benefited China beyond all expectations. From the Chinese viewpoint, however, one of the most significant events in our relationship was the Gulf War, in which a large, well-equipped Iraqi army was decisively defeated by the U.S.-led coalition in four days after a high-technology bombing campaign.  

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) studied that war in detail. They concluded China should not confront the US militarily. Two colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, published their opinions as Unrestricted Warfare in1999. They noted “One war changed the world” in their preface, referring to the Gulf War. They describe and recommend an extensive array of non-military measures to defeat the United States.  

Over the years since then various Chinese analysts, advisers, and policy makers updated these measures particularly with respect to use of the internet, modern communications, social media, and cyber warfare. It seems they are now enacting those policies.  

The Chinese extensively published their opinions, analyses and plans for defeating the United States in various journals and media. 

I do not read Chinese. Several people who do, however, such as Michael Pillsbury, Jonathan Ward, and Robert Spalding, analyze Chinese publications and publish books, articles, and essays detailing Chinese ideas to defeat and dominate the United States. The Chinese do not even bother to keep such musings secret. They publish them.

A concern is Taiwan. Joe Biden has pledged we shall support it. Is this where the U.S. and China may meet militarily? Is the U.S. ready for war? No. 

War games predict our military will run out of munitions in a week of combat defending Taiwan and that was before we sent so much to Ukraine. Significant numbers of our planes, ships, tanks, submarines and other equipment are not operable. Recruitment and morale are down. U.S. society and culture are diluted and under attack. The U.S. Administration is incompetent. Extreme government debt spending threatens a financial crisis and recession. Our U.S. Government does not support, even, some might notice,  works against people who drive U.S. business, financial, and commercial success. 

China is also in bad shape. Its government debt is 280% of GDP. Its infrastructure is overbuilt and investment continues for unproductive purposes. Severe Covid lockdowns paralyzed its industry and antagonized the populace. It remains in power only through heavy oppression and control of society. As the country comes out of Covid lockdown, a recovering economy will require increased oil and gas imports. China’s Belt and Road program is failing as previously described.    

A war between the U.S. and China will resemble a fight between two fat old men. Neither will win; both will lose. It will be deadly and probably devastating.

But once China takes over Taiwan, what’s next? 

Looking at the map, foreseeing Taiwan and the South China Sea islands in China’s control, I nominate Borneo. 

China makes a big point that it has no intentions for conquest; only to re-unite what was once China before it got weak and lost areas to foreign dominance. 

When I first went to Borneo, men on the sides of roads were selling Ming porcelain objects which they recovered from overgrown Chinese cities lost in the jungle. Skeptical at first, I learned they were real. One of the great collections of Ming porcelain is in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia. 

Borneo was once Chinese; we can presume China thinks it should be again. A look at the map suggests the implications of a Chinese takeover of Borneo, outflanking the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia and putting it in a strong southeast Asian presence. Not good.  

With all these considerations, I am in the Realist camp. Chinese ambitions must be countered and now.  


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