Where is the world’s disposition today vis-a-vis the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)?
Is it similar to that in Munich, September 1938 when Europe’s powers appeased Adolf Hitler over the “Sudetenland,” despite existing treaty commitments? In other words, analogous to the failure to recognize the PRC’s aggressive intent and to mobilize in response to serial CCP outrages, e.g., Tiananmen and South China Sea; suppression of Hong Kong in violation of a treaty agreement; the internment and genocide of the Uighurs, and its complicity in the death of nearly 3 million people globally via its Wuhan Coronavirus. Do these “passes” now amount to serial “green lights” to invade Taiwan?
Or would a closer analogy be 1950, when the three most powerful Communist states, the former Soviet Union, now Russia, China, and North Korea plotted the June 1950 North Korean attack against South Korea? It would be instantiated in the February 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance, that would arm China for its entry into the Korean War and then modernize China’s military as Joseph Stalin’s bribe to convince Mao Zedong (毛澤東) to forego invading Taiwan.
Now there is a revival of the “Communist” triumvirate but with CCP leadership. Russia has provided most of the military technology enabling the current modernization and capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Russia-PLA cooperation in strategic missile defense indicates they may also coordinate their offensive nuclear weapons, while their conventional military exercises indicate strategic and tactical cooperation, should the PLA strike Taiwan. Meanwhile, China has enabled North Korea to become a nuclear missile state in addition to Pyongyang’s massive arsenal of chemical/biological weapons, and massive artillery and armored forces.
Should the PLA begin attacks against Taiwan, it should be expected that in addition to the PLA’s capturing the southern islands of Japan’s Ryukyu Island Chain, Russia will join the PLA actions against American and Japanese military forces and assets to prevent any US or joint response to defend Taiwan. Russia may simultaneously attack the Ukraine, the Baltic States, or other targets to overburden Washington and tie down NATO forces. Furthermore, the beginning of a PLA-Russia attack against Taiwan, Japan, and the United States would be the optimal time for North Korea to launch a general conventional and non-conventional strike to conquer South Korea.
By 2050 the CCP wants to be the military-political-economic hegemon on Earth and the strategic hegemon in outer space. Its drive to hegemony begins with the extermination of Taiwan’s democratic culture and the transition of Taiwan into a vast military base to aid the PLA’s global projection.
Today the PLA is equipped to potentially win wars on two fronts: Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula.
One might conclude that the strategic and foreign policy leadership class of the United States has failed horribly to correct its embrace of a post-Mao CCP and prevent the CCP from achieving a level of power and position sufficient to undermine US strategic leadership in Asia and effectively to end the liberal-democratic order it has afforded.
This in part explains the imperial lecture delivered to new Biden Administration Secretary of State Antony Blinken by CCP foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) in their March 18 meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. This CCP put down, one hopes, has shattered the illusions of the new Biden Administration, reported in the New York Times on November 17, 2020, that it had a new “smarter approach” to China than the Trump Administration, combining cooperation with competition while confronting aggression.
Defeating CCP aggression is the most urgent priority when the PLA is preparing for war against Taiwan and Japan, as a CCP victory would upend the global balance of power and force the US and other democracies into decades of new wars with China. It is now necessary to exceed the Trump Administration’s attempts to define the CCP as a global threat, to provide leadership to prevent CCP hegemony, and to rearm and build new military coalitions to deter CCP wars of conquest. Here are some suggested actions:
First, as a warning to Beijing that global diplomatic recognition of Taiwan could follow its military action, it is necessary to organize a “Taipei Declaration” to commit the democracies to first principles. These would include the right of the people of Taiwan to determine their future and to live in peace and prosperity with China, and affirm that current CCP threats to Taiwan make it a threat to all democracies.
Second, it is appropriate to create a joint Japan-US theater command with a dedicated Joint Force sufficient to defeat a CCP attack against the Japanese Ryukyu chain, including the Senkaku Islands and to assist Taiwan. This will require that the US double the funding for new theater missiles to accelerate their deployment with US and Japanese Army, Navy, and Air Forces. New US medium range missiles should be offered to Taiwan.
Third, it is necessary that the US accelerate the deployment of new tactical nuclear weapons to US Navy, Air Force, and Army units deployed to Asia. American theater nuclear weapons are key to preventing a combined China-Russia strategic nuclear blackmail attempt. They are required to deter North Korea, China and Russia at a theater level so US strategic nuclear weapons can deter China and Russia at that level.
Fourth, the members of the Quad should be encouraged to allow for new members or even looser “associates.” In addition, the Quad should be encouraged to consider multiple vehicles for cooperation, ones that focus on political, economic, and intelligence coordination, and in doing so, create options for active military coordination.
Fifth, it is necessary for the democracies to revive a vehicle similar to the former Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) to create a global basis for controlling the CCP’s access to Western technology, and create the mechanism to rapidly impose a total economic embargo on China should it begin a war with Taiwan.
Sixth, it is necessary to keep the former Trump Administration’s goal of returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, and to encourage government-private partnerships including with willing states, like Taiwan, to build a dominant presence on the Moon. A large presence of the democracies on the Moon, and if necessary, Mars, offers the best chance of denying the CCP control over the Earth-Moon System that would give it superiority in wars on Earth.
Seventh, it is necessary to respond to CCP predations with targeted sanctions. For its role in the deaths of nearly 3 million people around the globe, it is necessary to seize CCP or Chinese state-owned assets until the CCP agrees to acknowledge its crimes and pay reparations.
Bringing CCP officials to justice for their Coronavirus crimes is the best way to put them on notice that they will also face justice for their possible crimes against the people of Taiwan. Perhaps then more people in China will accept that the CCP can face justice for its murder of 40 to 70 million Chinese.
Richard D. Fisher, Jr. is a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
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