Aby July 17th, 2007
A topic of popular discussion is a possible war scenario between United States and China, especially in the light of rapid growth in strengths and capability of the People’s Liberation Army of China. It would be interesting to analyse what the outcomes of such a war could be, considering the overall technological superiority of US military and the strategic superiority of Chinese PLA on their own ground.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (left) and his US counterpart George Bush (right):Let us hope they do not think of coming to military ‘blows’
The most likely reasons for a possible US vs China war could be a US invasion of North Korea or an escalation of the Taiwan dispute. A war of such nature would be fought in the Pacific, which would be of advantage to the better equipped-and-trained US Navy. However, if the US decides to secure its position by invading China, the outcomes would be quite different…and devastating. To understand this in a realistic perspective, what follows is a multi-dimensional analysis of a possible US-China war scenario, encompassing historical trends with the (known) present day military capabilities of both countries.
A look back at history of US conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Vietnam shows that the US military, while formidably powerful, is not as invincible as the Anglo-US media wants us to believe. The United States could claim victories in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars based off a strategy of carpet bombing ground locations and a complete lack of opposing air defence to stop the advance of American warplanes. In both these wars, the US forces were aided by local guerilla revolutionaries and a multi-national Coalition Forces.
In contrast to the above semi-victories, an extreme overconfidence by American defence analysts led to the death of 57000+ US forces in the Vietnam War, which was America’s biggest post-World War 2 defeat. In the Kosovo Conflict, the US led NATO forces faced setbacks due to their overconfidence in the US war equipments, particularly the F-117 “Nighthawk” stealth aircraft. The Serbian forces who were undermanned and possessed no credible air defence, managed to shoot down two of these ‘invincible’ Nighthawks, within the first few days of the conflict. They eventually gave up the war, but the conflict brought to light several failures of the US military and also the tendency among the American media to overhype the invincibility of their war machinery.
If the US were to attempt a war with China, it would face a much worse time than it did in Vietnam or Kosovo. A US bombing strike on the Chinese mainland would not only be struck down by the Chinese air defences (SAMs, AAMs, etc.) but also face a full fledged counter attack from China’s PLAAF. The small size of Taiwan would make the US bases there a vulnerable target for Chinese missile attacks, while the huge territorial depth of China would secure itself from an overwhelming counterattack. The PLA and the Chinese people would be unlike any adversary the US faced in the past. Like Kosovo, there would be a lot of surprises in store for US forces but unlike Kosovo they wouldn’t be facing 10,000 disorganised troops. Instead it would be a 2.5 million strong army with full fledged air, ground, sea and missile forces; all backed by a relatively stable economy and effectively dispersed human intelligence (HUMINT).
A war with China would also result in severe economic repercussions for the US due to a major chunk of its economic activities on China and if such a war prolonged, it would throw the American economy into chaos. China’s economy would also be hurt, but the Chinese will be able to carry on much better than Americans, owing to their history of surviving through severly devastating wars in the near past.
A nuclear option would carry an even more severe repurcussion for both sides. In the case of a nuclear first strike by the US, China’s retaliation would obliterate 20-40 of the largest US cities, effectively wiping off 40-100 million people in the American mainland. Even if the US uses its large arsenal to secure a victory, the after-effects of a nuclear exchange will render the American mainland into massive wasteland. There will be no actual victors, only a massive loss of human lives and property.
Further Information and Resources -
- China’s Military Capabilities - Commonwealth Institute
- Sino Defence - Leading Online Source of Information on China’s Military Power
- Air and Missile Campaign in Kosovo - Military analysis (Book) on Kosovo conflict by Anthony H. Cordesman
Possibly Related posts:
- United States vs China - Consequences of a Nuclear War
- China vs United States: Nuclear Arms Race
- A Brief War History of the United States
- Nuclear ICBMs of United States and Russia - Past and Present
- Nuclear Missile Forces - USA vs China vs Russia