- DEFENSE NEWS - Sep 17, 2020 -
What happens if China engages in a great power conflict and loses? Will the Chinese Communist Party’s control over the society survive a horrifying defeat?
The People’s Liberation Army last fought a massive-scale war during the invasion of Vietnam in 1979, which was a failed operation to punish Vietnam for toppling the Khmer Rouge regime of Cambodia. Since 1979, the PLA has been engaged in shelling Vietnam at different occasions and involved in other border skirmishes, but not fought a full-scale war.
In the last decades, China increased its defense spending and modernized its military, including advanced air defenses and cruise missiles; fielded advanced military hardware; and built a high sea navy from scratch. But there is significant uncertainty of how the Chinese military will perform.
Modern warfare is integration, joint operations, command, control, intelligence, and the ability to understand and execute the ongoing, all-domain fight. War is a complex machinery with low margins of error and can have devastating outcomes for the ill-prepared. It does not matter if you are against or for the U.S. military operations the last three decades; the fact is that the prolonged conflict and engagement have made the U.S. experienced. The Chinese inexperience, in combination with unrealistic expansionist ambitions, can be the downfall of the regime. Dry swimmers maybe train the basics, but they are never great swimmers.
Although it may look like a creative strategy for China to harvest trade secrets and intellectual property as well as put developing countries in debt to gain influence, I would question how rational the Chinese apparatus is. The repeated visualization of the Han nationalist cult appears as a strength amid the youth rallying behind President Xi Jinping’s regime, but it is also a significant weakness. The weakness is blatantly visible in the Chinese need for surveillance and population control to maintain stability — surveillance and repression that is so encompassing in the daily life of the Chinese population that German DDR security services appear to have been amateurs.