China is Growing Stronger

China is Growing Stronger

© David Burton 2022

The Chinese Threat

     Even with war raging in Europe and economic instability and a border crisis at home, the threat of the Chinese Communist Party remains the most important issue for America to face - one we cannot afford to ignore.

     Mainland China is growing stronger in a number of ways. In one area of major concern to the United States, China is pulling ahead of the U.S. when it comes to key indicators of science and engineering (S&E) prowess, the National Science Board is warning.
     “S&E investments and capabilities are growing globally and, in some cases, the growth in other countries has outpaced that of the U.S.,” said Ellen Ochoa, chair of the board. The nation is falling behind China in important areas such as growth in research-and-development (R&D) investment, the manufacturing of critical emerging technologies and patents for innovative systems, according to the National Science Board’s “State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2022” report.
     “The United States’ role as the world’s foremost performer of R&D is changing as Asia continues to increase its investments,” the study said.
     “Growth in R&D and Science and Technology (S&T) output by other countries, including China, outpaced that of the United States. Consequently, even as U.S. R&D has increased, the U.S. share of global R&D has declined, and the relative position of the United States in some S&T activities has either not changed or decreased even as absolute activities increased.”
     China contributed 29% of the growth in global research and development between 2000 and 2019, compared to the United States’ 23% according to the report.
     Beijing is also leading the United States in Knowledge (and) Technology Intensive, or KTI, industry manufacturing, although the United States is the largest producer of KTI services. KTI is defined as industries that globally have high rates of R&D. Such industries “develop and deploy many of the critical and emerging technologies essential for current and future competitiveness.” There has been tremendous growth in KTI industry manufacturing in China. “It is an area of concern.” In terms of national security, it is problematic if the manufacturing of certain critical technologies is concentrated in an adversarial country.
     For example, the Pentagon has for years been sounding the alarm about the vulnerability of semiconductors. Microelectronics are foundational to the high-tech computers, cell phones and weapon systems the United States relies on. However, while the nation is a leader in the design of semiconductors, the manufacturing and production of them has moved offshore and is now concentrated in places such as China.
     Meanwhile, Beijing has also increased its patenting activities. The U.S. share of international patents declined from 15% to 10% between 2010 and 2020. China, meanwhile, increased its share from 16% to 49% in that same time frame.
     Those are concerning statistics. In many cases, “innovations are embodied in patents, so that indicates a high level of creativity and innovation that is going on in China.”
     Another area to watch is the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students Beijing is matriculating. China is one of the world’s leaders in awarding science and engineering first-university degrees, which are roughly equivalent to bachelor’s degrees. “The U.S. has long been the premier developer of global STEM talent. But the decline in the number of international students coming to the U.S. in recent years is a cause for concern.”[1]

     In the military might arena, U.S. Air Force leaders are warning that China's "rate of change" is "outpacing the U.S." and is intended to achieve global dominance by 2050 through a multi-pronged strategic approach to include military modernization, technological innovation, economic imperialism, and a "whole of government" approach to eroding the current U.S. military advantage.
     "China is the pacing challenge, actively developing weapons systems specifically designed to defeat the U.S. competitive advantage," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown said. He went on to point out certain conditions and circumstances likely to generate concern at the Pentagon. For instance, Brown said China now operates the largest Aviation force in the Indo-Pacific and is challenging U.S. relationships with our allies.
     "China will exceed the U.S. as the largest economy in ten years," Brown added, making specific reference to the South China Sea.
     If China has the largest aviation presence in the Pacific, then many are likely to consider the kinds of platforms and threats which may make up its force, including drones of concern as well as fighter jets, bombers, and strategic cargo aircraft. The Chinese are known to operate the J-10 and carrier-launched J-15 fighter jets. But the People's Liberation Army Air Force is now operating a growing number of cutting-edge or emerging platforms likely to present a much more significant threat. It is likely that China is deliberately developing platforms to rival the U.S. Take its J-20 fighter jet, for example, a stealthy purported 5th-generation fighter already in service and likely growing in numbers, the J-20 is a platform now being supplemented by the emerging Chinese J-31 5th generation stealth fighter.
     China does not currently operate a high number of aircraft carriers, apart from its first two now operating in the region. However, its ability to project maritime airpower is quickly growing, by efforts such as its active development of a carrier-launched maritime variant of the J-31. Public reports say China operates as many as 150 J-20s and is known to possess a fast-moving industrial base now producing new aircraft. It has also been reported that the Chinese are continuing efforts to convert some of their newer Y-20 Cargo planes into tankers. Such a prospect, reported in Chinese newspapers, could certainly massively extend the reach of J-20s throughout the Pacific.
     With respect to this growing Mainland China airborne threat, General Brown cautioned that "Strategic competition can be just as catastrophic as a 9-11. We cannot wait for a catastrophic event.”[2]

     Another indication of China’s growing military strength is its increasing inventory of advanced missiles. They would be one of the thorniest problems facing U.S. military forces in the event of a conflagration in the Indo-Pacific region over the fate of Taiwan or other flashpoints. National security experts are recommending steps the United States can take to mitigate the threat before it’s too late.
     Beijing’s land-based missile systems are managed by the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF). Its inventory includes a variety of conventional mobile, ground-launched short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles, with the capability of conducting precision strikes against ground targets and naval targets, according to the Pentagon’s latest report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.”
     “The PLARF is a critical component of the PRC’s strategy to deter and counter third-party intervention in regional conflicts,” the study says.
     In 2020, the rocket force began fielding its first operational hypersonic weapon system, the DF-17. Hypersonic weapons can fly faster than 5-times the speed of sound with a high level of maneuverability that makes it challenging for traditional missile defense systems to defeat them.
     “The investments that we’ve seen the Chinese make in hypersonics are frankly startling,” said Dr. Mark Lewis, executive director of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies Institute.
     The Chinese are looking at technologies that not only allow them to control the space in their immediate domain in the Indo-Pacific region, but. they’re also looking at global capabilities, and they’re rapidly developing the technologies to enhance that capability.
     The PLA has developed a strategy that focuses on using offensive strikes to gain a military advantage at the beginning of a conflict and maintain that momentum. The rocket force figures prominently in that strategy. “They talk about conducting preventive attacks … and preemptive attacks of various kinds. So, essentially conducting lots of surprise attacks to gain the initiative operationally.” The PLA already possesses thousands of missiles and is expected to continue boosting its arsenal.
     Leaders in Beijing recognize that their rockets and missiles constitute a very effective class of weapons that are highly accurate and can target adversaries’ key military nodes. In addition to being based in mainland China, such systems can also be stationed at overseas outposts or onboard deployed platforms such as PLA Navy ships.
     The Pentagon in its report said: “In the near-term, the PLAN will have the capability to conduct long-range precision strikes against land targets from its submarine and surface combatants using land-attack cruise missiles, notably enhancing the PRC’s global power projection capabilities.”
     Another major concern is China’s development of tactical hypersonic weapons. Those are the real impactful systems, because those are the ones that have strategic implications. “Imagine a hypersonic missile swarm that can sink an aircraft carrier — that’s really quite a capability.”[3]

     In another news item relative to the growing strength of Communist China, Admiral Charles Richard, head of the U.S. Strategic Command, said that it has become imperative for the United States to have the capability to defend against Russia and China at the same time.
     Richard told the House Armed Services Committee on March 1, 2022 that: “Today, we face two nuclear-capable near-peers who have the capability to unilaterally escalate a conflict to any level of violence in any domain worldwide, with any instrument of national power, and that is historically significant.”
     He pointed out that while the need to deter both China and Russia at the same time was only at the level of major concern in April last year, the concern “has now become a reality.”
     Back in April 2021, he told lawmakers at another congressional hearing that the United States for the first time in history was “on a trajectory to face two nuclear-capable, strategic peer adversaries at the same time.”
     Months later, he said the United States was “witnessing a strategic breakout by China,” adding that the Chinese regime’s “explosive growth and modernization of its nuclear and conventional forces” was “breathtaking.”
     China and Russia pose a threat to the United States now more than ever, as the two neighboring countries currently boast a “no-limits” partnership, according to a statement released following a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on 4 February 2022.
     During the summer of 2021, China reportedly tested nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles, prompting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley to say the tests were very close to a “Sputnik moment.” Additionally, there were reports that China was building hundreds of new nuclear silos.
     In November 2021, the Pentagon warned that China might have as many as 1,000 deliverable nuclear missiles by 2030. According to General Glen VanHerck, head of the U.S. Northern Command, China hasn’t slowed down in its pursuit of hypersonic weapons. “They’re aggressively pursuing hypersonic capability, tenfold to what we have done as far as testing within the last year or so, significantly outpacing us with their capabilities,” he said at the hearing.
     Richard told lawmakers that it’s important to keep monitoring China’s development. “We don’t know the endpoint of where China is going in terms of the capabilities it’s developing.” he said.[4]

     Xi Jinping, the president of China hopes, in his lifetime, to see the communist flag flutter above Taiwan. These days, the question is whether the conflict in Ukraine holds any lessons for China and its cause.
     Vladimir Putin would not have moved on Ukraine if he didn’t think a weakened, distracted and divided Europe, paired with a feckless American president, would not stand in his way. Beijing has been looking on with great interest. Putin was doing Xi’s dirty work for him. A rattled Europe would be more open to Chinese efforts to expand its influence in Europe, as well as push out and marginalize the Americans.
     But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the time was right to try to take Taiwan. For one thing, China was already thinking the West was weak. Nothing that happened since Russia invaded Ukraine gave it any reason to advance its own timeline.
     A Chinese move on Taiwan will involve it getting past hundreds of miles of water – a severe logistics problem. China won’t act until it’s convinced it can win decisively and quickly. Beijing thinks the West is only going to get weaker, so time is on its side.
     Beijing has had to spend geopolitical capital to side with Russia. Fending off responsibility for the Uyghur genocide (which they can hide behind the Great Firewall) is one thing, but defending Russian war crimes, which play out on Twitter and YouTube, guts China’s credibility of claims that it’s a "responsible" power.
     Further, Beijing’s buddy in Moscow is going to be an economic basket case. Even if Beijing wants to bail Putin out with their patent debt trap, that is going to cost a lot of money - likely more than the Chinese Communist Party can spare. Buying up Russia at fire-sale prices might be more than even Xi can manage.[5]

     Closer to home, “China is seeking to get their first military outpost in the Atlantic and is attempting to influence Caribbean countries, such as Barbados, by giving them large sums of money.” (Ref. 6)

     China’s effort to expand its growing influence represents one of the largest threats to the United States, according to a major annual intelligence report released in April of 2021.
     The report did not predict a military confrontation with either Russia or China, but it suggested that so-called gray-zone battles for power, which are meant to fall short of inciting all-out war, would intensify with intelligence operations, cyberattacks and global drives for influence.
     The report put China’s push for “global power” first on the list of threats, followed by Russia, Iran and North Korea. “China increasingly is a near-peer competitor, challenging the United States in multiple arenas - especially economically, militarily and technologically - and is pushing to change global norms.” China’s strategy, according to the report, is to drive wedges between the United States and its allies.
     The report predicted more tensions in the South China Sea, as Beijing continues to intimidate rivals in the region. It also predicted that China would press the government of Taiwan to move forward with unification and criticize efforts by the United States to bolster engagement with Taipei. But the report stopped short of predicting any kind of direct military conflict.
     “We expect that friction will grow as Beijing steps up attempts to portray Taipei as internationally isolated and dependent on the mainland for economic prosperity, and as China continues to increase military activity around the island,” the report said.
     It also predicted that China would at least double its nuclear stockpile over the next decade. “Beijing is not interested in arms-control agreements that restrict its modernization plans and will not agree to substantive negotiations that lock in U.S. or Russian nuclear advantage,” the report said.
     China uses its electronic surveillance and hacking abilities to not only repress dissent domestically but also to conduct intrusions that affect people beyond its borders. The country also represents a growing threat of cyberattacks against the United States, and the intelligence agencies assess that Beijing “at a minimum, can cause localized, temporary disruptions to critical infrastructure within the United States.”[7]

     In April of 2019 I wrote that relations between the United States and China were both complex and rapidly changing. They still are – actually, more so. “Conceived to be ‘one of tariff wars, unprecedented cyberattacks, and nuclear saber rattling,’ 2018 was a year marked by international challenges as the U.S.-China confrontation ramped up to the edge of a full-blown crisis.”
     Today, as in 2019, potential adversaries such as China continue to pursue new options for the deployment of nuclear weapons, develop longer range surveillance and strike weapons, and undermine the cybersecurity of U.S. government and industry information systems. For several years, senior defense leaders have warned against the narrowing technological edge of our military forces.
     As of April 2019, Russia and China continued to be militarily worrisome, both because of the investments they were making in the modernization and expansion of their offensive military capabilities and because of the more enduring effect they were having within their respective regions. China’s provocative behavior continued to include militarization of islands that it built in highly disputed international waters in the South China Sea. China also adopted aggressive naval tactics to intimidate such neighboring countries as Japan and the Philippines.
     China, then and now, poses a significant threat to the United States – in terms of economics, politics and, most importantly, militarily. While most of the news concerning China and the United States during President Trump’s time in office were focused on trade relations between the two nations, there were ongoing developments that were intimately tied to national defense. We need to keep in mind several facts and remind ourselves that national security is nothing to be ignored or obscured by other factors that take precedence in the news media. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist 23: The first of the “principal” constitutional obligations of the federal government is to provide for the “common defense” of the United States. President George Washington wisely reminded us that “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”
     The head of Counterintelligence (CI) for the U.S. Government in 2019 said that: “China was 'bar none', the 'largest threat to U.S. national security' plus China had declared 'economic war' on the US,
     For some time now, an area of concern has been that of preserving America’s access to vital defense materials. This involves “China’s recent threat to limit domestic production of rare earths, those 16 elements that make our cellphones and smart bombs work. It’s the latest move in a game that began before the United States realized it was even playing. That “game” has grown more complex than U.S. leaders realize, and continues to this day.
     By 2019, China’s grip on the world’s supply of rare earths was not limited to its 80-percent share of raw materials. It also controled almost all of the world’s processing facilities that transform raw concentrates and oxides into useful forms: metals, alloys, magnets, garnets, and the like.
     Again in 2019, I noted that “China’s growing anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, ranging from an expanding fleet of modern submarines to anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles, increase the operational risk for deployment of U.S. forces in the event of conflict. China’s capabilities not only jeopardize American combat forces that would flow into the theater for initial combat, but also would continue to threaten the logistical support needed to sustain American combat power for the subsequent days, weeks, and months.”
     What should the U.S. position be as a result of all that Mainland China has been doing for the past several years? As the saying goes: We should “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” Now is not the time to let our guard down.[8]


  1. China Outpacing U.S. in Key Science Metrics, Yasmin Tadjdeh, National Defense; pge 11, March 2022.
  2. Air Force Chief of Staff: China Is "Outpacing the U.S.", Kris Osborn, The National Interest, 20 September 2021.
  3. U.S. Challenged to Defend Against Chinese Missiles, Jon Harper, National Defense; pgs 22-25, 7 March 2022.
  4. US faces nuclear threats from China, Russia as never before: US Admiral, American Partisan, 8 March 2022.
  5. What China Is Learning From Putin’s Ukraine Invasion, James Jay Carafano, The Heritage Foundation, 8 March 2022.
  6. Communist China’s growing threat to the west, Anthony Furey, True North, 8 December 2021.
  7. China Poses Biggest Threat to U.S., Intelligence Report Says, Julian E. Barnes, The New York Times, 13 April 2021.
  8. Now is Not the Time to Let Our Guard Down, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu: Article 356, 29 April 2019.

  31 March 2022 {ARTICLE 521; UNDECIDED_68}    
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