European nations are selling dual-use military technology to China that may soon be used against Taiwan, a US congressional subcommittee has been told.
“All Chinese nonnuclear submarines and new combatant ships use European design naval engines, largely German-designed engines,” said Rick Fisher, senior fellow for Asian military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
A similar situation exists with some helicopters, and the Chinese shipbuilding industry has bought state-of-the-art 3D ship design software, made in Spain, that is already helping Beijing “develop better combat ships.”
Fisher told a special hearing of the Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the sales were allowing China to expand its military more quickly than it would otherwise be able to do.
Fisher said China was building its military “tremendously” to wage war against Taiwan and to conquer the nation “perhaps early in the next decade.”
Such an attack could possibly engage US forces and reduce the US’ ability to aid Europe against threats “that are growing against them as well.”
Asked about mounting Chinese aggression towards Japan and in the South China Sea, Fisher said that if the US did nothing to counter the aggression, there was a danger that allies could be defeated in skirmishes.
“If our allies are undermined, if they lose confidence in their alliances with the United States, they have alternatives,” Fisher said. “In my opinion they will develop their own nuclear missiles.”
Fisher said that Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Australia could all go nuclear “rather quickly.”
If that happens, the prospect of a skirmish escalating into a nuclear exchange with the US being drawn into a war is “real,” he said.
Fisher said that Washington had to support its friends and allies.
“We have to be very clear to the Chinese about what we consider unacceptable behavior,” he said.
“We have to make clear that we are there to back up our alliances, that we are there to support our long-standing friendship with Taiwan by selling them the systems they need to deter war,” Fisher said. “If we fail to do this, we are inviting conflict.”
Chairman of the subcommittee Republican Dana Rohrabacher said the hearing had been called to examine China’s “external posture” toward the states around it.
He said that Beijing had menaced, threatened and attempted to absorb Taiwan and had clashed “with virtually every bordering state.”
Director of the Population Research Institute Steven Mosher said that he was less worried about China’s capabilities than its intentions.
“I am concerned that China, which lacks transparency in terms of its military budget and in stating its intentions, is only emboldened by our careful and measured and nuanced, and oftentimes too quiet, responses to acts of aggression,” he said.