Shoring up our security means addressing the China challenge
Talk about hitting the nail on the head.
Rep. Randy Forbes, co-chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, says Washington is burying its head in the sand when it comes to the aspirations of the Chinese government.
As China’s economic development continues and its regional aspirations expand, its military modernization has continued apace. This reality, and the necessity of the United States’ remaining a force in Asia-Pacific for the sake of regional stability, makes many in Washington uncomfortable. Indeed, the pressure to refrain from speaking openly about the issue has led some U.S. officials to begin referring to China as a national “Voldermort.” (sic)
We’ve blogged a lot about the size of America’s trade deficit with China, and the disturbing allegations of widespread computer hacking of American institutions (both public and private) by the People’s Liberation Army.
But as Forbes writes, you can’t tackle these issues in a piecemeal fashion. China’s military and its economy have been on the same development curve. And the same goes for the American economy and military. But has our curve gone awry?
That’s the conclusion made by Remaking American Security, a report prepared by Brigadier General John Adams (U.S. Army, Retired). The report argues that our national security has degraded as key links in our military supply chain have migrated offshore, the result of a shortsighted loss of manufacturing capacity over the years. The United States is alarmingly dependent on foreign suppliers who, quite simply, might not have America’s best interests at heart in a moment of crisis.
“China has specifically geared its military development to areas of perceived American weakness with the objective of restricting U.S. action in East Asia,” writes Forbes. And, in lockstep, China’s manufacturing sector has geared up to supply its military. For instance:
- China produces 90 percent of the world supply of rare earth elements, and the U.S. imports, from China, 91 percent of the rare earth element lanthanum, which is needed to make night-vision devices.
- The United States is completely dependent on a single Chinese company for the chemical needed to produce solid rocket fuel used to propel HELLFIRE missiles, one of the military’s most widely used and effective weapons.
- And America does not produce any of the high-tech magnets needed to manufacture vital military vehicles and equipment, including helicopters; many types of jet fighters and bombers; the HELLFIRE missile, Navy destroyers and Virginia-class submarines; satellite communications equipment; and radar amplifiers. China makes 75 percent of the world’s high-tech magnets.
These are among the many concerning weak spots in our defense industrial base that Remaking American Security highlights, and fixing them deserves some serious attention from our government. But we’ll leave it to Rep. Forbes to have the last word:
Our future relations with China are not preordained. Sound policy based on American strength and rooted in longstanding American interests is achievable only through recognition that China is a long-term competitor of the United States across a range of areas, including the military. The sooner we are comfortable admitting this fact, the better our chances of marshalling the resources to maintain a free and prosperous Asia.
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