This, an interesting piece this morning from Reuters. We would do well to remember the instances in the last century, 1917, 1933, 1949, and in this century, 2001, where we have failed to give credence to the stated intentions of enemies and potential enemies of the United States, and of our Western Allies.


BEIJING (Reuters) – China should build the world’s strongest military and move swiftly to topple the United States as the global “champion,” a senior Chinese PLA officer says in a new book reflecting swelling nationalist ambitions.


The call for China to abandon modesty about its global goals and “sprint to become world number one” comes from a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Senior Colonel, Liu Mingfu, who warns that his nation’s ascent will alarm Washington, risking war despite Beijing’s hopes for a “peaceful rise.”

“China’s big goal in the 21st century is to become world number one, the top power,” Liu writes in his newly published Chinese-language book, “The China Dream.”

“If China in the 21st century cannot become world number one, cannot become the top power, then inevitably it will become a straggler that is cast aside,” writes Liu, a professor at the elite National Defense University, which trains rising officers.

His 303-page book stands out for its boldness even in a recent chorus of strident Chinese voices demanding a hard shove back against Washington over trade, Tibet, human rights, and arms sales to Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own.

“As long as China seeks to rise to become world number one … then even if China is even more capitalist than the U.S., the U.S. will still be determined to contain it,” writes Liu.

Rivalry between the two powers is a “competition to be the leading country, a conflict over who rises and falls to dominate the world,” says Liu. “To save itself, to save the world, China must prepare to become the (world’s) helmsman.”

“The China Dream” does not represent government policy, which has been far less strident about the nation’s goals.

Liu’s book testifies to the homegrown pressures on China’s Communist Party leadership to show the country’s fast economic growth is translating into greater sway against the West, still mired in an economic slowdown.

The next marker of how China’s leaders are handling these swelling expectations may come later this week, when the government is likely to announce its defense budget for 2010, after a 14.9 percent rise last year on the one in 2008.

“This book represents my personal views, but I think it also reflects a tide of thought,” Liu told Reuters in an interview. “We need a military rise as well as an economic rise.”

Another PLA officer has said this year’s defense budget should send a defiant signal to Washington after the Obama administration went ahead in January with long-known plans to sell $6.4 billion worth of arms to Taiwan.

“I think one part of ‘public opinion’ that the leadership pays attention to is elite opinion, and that includes the PLA,” said Alan Romberg, an expert on China and Taiwan at the Henry L. Stimson Center, an institute in Washington D.C.

“I think the authorities are seeking to keep control of the reaction, even as they need to take (it) into account,” Romberg said in an emailed response to questions.

Liu argues that China should use its growing revenues to become the world’s biggest military power, so strong the United States “would not dare and would not be able to intervene in military conflict in the Taiwan Strait.”

“If China’s goal for military strength is not to pass the United States and Russia, then China is locking itself into being a third-rate military power,” he writes. “Turn some money bags into bullet holders.”

China’s leaders do not want to jeopardize ties with the United States, a key trade partner and still by far the world’s biggest economy and military power.

Yet Chinese public ire, echoed on the Internet, means policy-makers have to tread more carefully when handling rival domestic and foreign demands, said Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

“Chinese society is changing, and you see that in all the domestic views now on what China should do about the United States,” said Jin. “If society demands a stronger stance, ignoring that can bring a certain cost.”

Liu’s book was officially published in January, but is only now being sold in Beijing bookstores.


In recent months, strains have widened between Beijing and Washington over trade, Internet controls, climate change, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and President Barack Obama’s meeting with Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, who China reviles.

China has so far responded with angry words and a threat to sanction U.S. companies involved in the Taiwan arms sales. But it has not acted on that threat and has allowed a U.S. aircraft carrier to visit Hong Kong.

Over the weekend, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said he wanted trade friction with the United States to ease. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg is due to visit Beijing this week.

Liu and other PLA officers, however, say they see little chance of avoiding deepening rivalry with the United States, whether peaceful or warlike.

“I’m very pessimistic about the future,” writes another PLA officer, Colonel Dai Xu, in another recently published book that claims China is largely surrounded by hostile or wary countries beholden to the United States.

“I believe that China cannot escape the calamity of war, and this calamity may come in the not-too-distant future, at most in 10 to 20 years,” writes Dai.

“If the United States can light a fire in China’s backyard, we can also light a fire in their backyard,” warns Dai.

Liu said he hoped China and the United States could manage their rivalry through peaceful competition.

“In his State of the Union speech, Obama said the United States would never accept coming second-place, but if he reads my book he’ll know China does not want to always be a runner-up,” said Liu in the interview.

(Editing by Benjamin Kang Lim and Jeremy Laurence)


Update: Interesting remarks today from China’s Foreign Minister. Sooner or later, this will be more than diplomatic bluster.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Foreign Policy, Soft Power

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  • YNSN

    You know. I keep hearing that the Chinese military is very keen on their Sun Tzu. Obviously, this professor from their NDU isn’t. China will be prosperous if they can avoid a war with my Navy.

    Let’s fight over a space race, those are more fun. Last one to Mars is a rotten egg.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    “China will be prosperous if they can avoid a war with my Navy.”

    Your statement may be true in 2010, and 2015. What about in 2028? Or 2050?

    Long view. Decades, centuries. Not 4 year election/QDR cycles.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    As long as there is blue water between us and Red China, and the US Navy has command of it and the aerospace above it, the Republic can be defended. Nothing new here.

    Defend it we must, and defend it we shall. The long term odds on successful defense?

    Diminishing at the moment. Strategic adjustment required to match the facts.

    Red China is ambitious and domination of the world is its eventual goal. Why? Because it is RED China. Certainly not because the USA covets one square inch of China’s land, nor wishes China anything other than peace and prosperity under a just and humane political system.

    The PLAN decided all out war with the USA was a suboptimal COA somewhere around the Chosin Reservoir. It would seem the rising generation needs to study its history more closely.

    That much we have in common.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    The Devil’s advocate may ask whether the latest generation of Chinese HAVE studied their history (Mahan in particular), and are going about maneuvering so that war, regional or otherwise, with the US can become an acceptable COA.

    Whether they would be correct with their assumptions for this eventuality are secondary. The fact that they are rumbling once again toward recomputing the equation is most revealing.

  • Grandpa Bluewater


    Unquestionably. As is our current strategic drift.


  • Derrick

    In my opinion, based on my limited understanding, it will take more than talk to rival US military supremacy. I don’t think China’s growing revenues could afford to fuel the type of blue water navy required to challenge US military supremacy. Last I heard they were 50 years behind the US in terms of technology?

    I personally believe this senior Chinese military officer was just saying inflammatory things in order to get on TV for his 5-6 seconds of international fame.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Last I heard they were 50 years behind the US in terms of technology?”

    Wow. You haven’t heard in a while. China’s espionage efforts in both military and industrial arenas are extensive and highly permeating.

    And as the US Navy shrinks, and PLAN grows (along with their revenues and our debts), the assumption that china does not have the assets to challenge is exceedingly dangerous. Many of the same arguments were made in 1935-38, when the Third Reich was building its war machine under the noses of the Allies.

  • CaptanJoe

    I see the Chinese have closed the Panama Canal for “maintenance”. I wonder if the canal and perhaps the Caribbean are our Taiwan, our backyard.

  • Chuck Hill

    Always seems emerging economies express their pride and exuberance in military adventurism.

    Dutch in the 17th Century.
    England in the 18th/19th Century.
    US–War of 1812/Mexican War/Indian Wars/Spanish American War.
    Prussia/Germany–Austro-Prussian War/Franco-Prussian War/WWI/WWII.
    Japan–Sino-Japanese War/Russo-Japanese War/Manchuria/China/WWII.

    Of course when you are surrounded by enemies it bay be because you made them enemies.

  • Paul

    There was a very scary report last weekend on 60 Minutes about the increase in PRC spying in the United States targeting nukes, sales to Taiwan and anything technological that they don’t have and want. These aren’t random events, and we’d be foolish to think that they are not in direct competition with us for both resources and influence.

    Look at the Horn of Africa– what companies are involved in Darfur? Chinese companies, that’s who. There’s a vacuum over there and China is looking to fill it. They may not be able to challenge us on the high seas, yet, but they’re building a credible force that would be a challenge to other countries in the region and could use that club to influence their commercial and military relations with the United States.

    Google and other companies were hit hard last month by hackers from the PRC. That wasn’t random either. China seems to understand that there is another frontier of competition and yes, war, and that’s the cyber frontier. They’re already scouting out that path for their purposes as well.

    As for their blue water navy– well, I’m still waiting for the Varyag casino to open. Oh, wait, it’s not a casino, it’s an aircraft carrier sitting in a PLAN base, painted in PLAN colors with a pennant number. So much for believing what I was told…

  • Byron

    I’ll believe Varyag works when I see PLAN aviators get their night traps in without breaking more than %50 of the aircraft.

  • Paul

    I agree with you Byron– whether or not it works is one thing, but what concerned me, and concerns me is the duplicity in the acquisition of the ship. Why all the smoke and mirrors saying that it was for a “casino”? Why not come right out and state that it was for study and potential use?

    There is a pattern here where the Chinese government says one thing and yet does another, usually with some kind of potentially hostile intent. They allowed Google in under a lot of restrictions and then used those connections to launch an attack on their networks. They routinely steal industrial and military secrets while at the same time professing friendship and partnership and it seems to be getting worse.

    I’m sure people smarter than me have thought of this– the PLAN doesn’t need to challenge us in the Pacific. But, the Indian Ocean is an interesting theatre. It’s where a lot of our oil has to pass through, the second most populous country bisects it and it’s on the other side of the globe from us. Add to that the growing influence of China in Eastern Africa (read basing rights), the PLAN on pirate patrol (long distance operations and experience for the junior officers that will ultimately command the PLAN) and the building of a larger submarine force and there’s something to game on Harpoon one rainy day.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “I’ll believe Varyag works when I see PLAN aviators get their night traps in without breaking more than %50 of the aircraft.”

    Ahh, Byron, the LONG view…. The PLAN will get better, and they will improve procedures and techniques, just as we did. They have been practicing arrested landings ashore for a decade. It is their intent. I see no reason they will not achieve it.

  • Matthew S.

    “In my opinion, based on my limited understanding, it will take more than talk to rival US military supremacy. I don’t think China’s growing revenues could afford to fuel the type of blue water navy required to challenge US military supremacy. Last I heard they were 50 years behind the US in terms of technology?”

    50 years??? They are damn near even in many areas. They have made amazing progress in even the last 10 years. Also, they are in a fight with South Korea to take over as the worlds number one shipbuilder. They are able to get frigates, destroyers, amphibs, patrol boats, subs in the water at a must faster rate than we can. I can’t believe there are still people saying that China is 10-20 years behind us and now someone says 50 years. Its not 1988 anymore.

  • Matthew S.

    Also another thing to consider is that China is far ahead of in cyber warfare. They are dominating us in cyber warfare. I would not be surprised if the Chinese have specifications, CAD drawings etc. of all our major weapons systems as a result of cyber warfare.

  • Paul

    Matthew S. hit it right on the head. According to the 60 Minutes interview, they already have plans to all of our nuclear weapons systems. Here’s the link to the report:

    They don’t really have to challenge us– just their neighbors who have good relations with the US and offer them the choice “Us, or the United States…” Who do you think they’ll go for? The threat in their back yard or the threat across the ocean?

  • Derrick

    Well…I guess I was uninformed. Even assuming China is only 10 years behind us, they will never surpass the US. Geographically, China is contained/bordered on all sides by major powers. So much like the former Soviet Union, a lot of money will have to be spent dealing with balancing against those nations before China can really begin to project military power globally like the US can.

    As for China being able to put more boats in the water than the US, well, I thought there was a US carrier there called the George Washington, which could field approximately 100-120? sorties a day, or sink roughly 200 targets in a day? Isn’t that more ships than most navies, except the US?



    years from now, the whole world will be different!! Our Mankind
    learn from HISTORY & world events!!!All mankind are brothers and
    will be even more sober than now!!!
    To keep PEACE in world orders is imperative!! I think CHINA will
    also work with the rest of the world to KEEP PEACE for our children including working closely with USA & USA NAVY!!
    I am very optimistic that day will come for a BETTER MANKIND!!!
    If you read the HISTORY of WWI, WWII, & COLD WAR, NIXON visited
    CHINA in 1971 etc. You will see people around the world are getting smarter & smarter and keep on progressing for a better

    I am very proud to have the chance to post my humble opinion!!



  • Derrick

    The world is becoming a better place, and I have no doubt that the current level of military cooperation between all nations will continue to grow. The US navy uses Chinese docks in Hong Kong and I’m sure they will have access to more Chinese military facilities moving forward.

    But it would be foolish for the US to let its guard down. Peace through strength works.

    My curiosity is how much “strength” the US needs moving forward to protect its interests, that’s all. My question is how many and what types of military forces in what regions are required to keep global stability and deter potential aggressors, as well as how much this will cost me in taxes. 🙂

  • Kent Chang

    Never underestimate your competitors or the power of compounded growth.

    No one can seriously question the absolute supremacy of the U.S. military/Navy today or even ten years from now. It is the trend line that is very alarming.

    In 1990, I would have bet my house with any idiot who claimed China will sell more automobiles and computers than the U.S. and accumulate $2 trillion cash in less than 20 years time. In another 20, the U.S. will still be paying back our growing deficit while China’s economy may be 2.5x that of the U.S. (HBR 5/08) and be suntanning outside their moon base. 2.5x is the difference between China and India (or more roughly U.S. vs Japan) today.

    In the end, a country’s military must be backed up by its industrial/financial base. Just ask the Soviet Union or Germany what happens otherwise.

    Assuming we have relative peace for the next 20 years and that technological advancements continue at similar pace (i.e. fast), the questions become

    1. How relevant are the weapon platforms U.S. have today? Care to ask the Russians about their T-72s and MiG-23s? Who is putting more resources into R&D.

    2. Can the U.S. afford to sustain an arms race with a country 2.5x its size (and with growing disparity). Is it slightly comical to imagine Japan trying to match the U.S. militarily today?

    Of course past rate of growth does not imply future performance. However, ask yourself what major blunders China have made in the last THIRTY years and are they getting dumber or wiser.

    Let’s hope this type of discussion will remains academic (like Liu’s book) and disagreements between leading nations can be resolved peacefully, and at the very worst, by projection of force, rather than force itself. Stop looking at world events as a zero-sum game. We can all get rich and happy together.

  • Impatient middle ranking Chinese officers are stirring the pot. They are attempting to steer Chinese public opinion into dangerous waters.
    There is no doubt the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are increasing their activities in the Nan Hai (South China Sea). These activities are of great concern to ASEAN countries and to the West.
    Indeed, the Nan Hai may be seen as the crucible for a worst case scenario: that is the potential for a large-scale military confrontation in 10-20 years time. Taiwan is one of the “flashpoints” for such a conflict.
    Readers are encouraged to request a copy of a RUSI defence research paper entitled “China’s Dependence Upon Oil Supply”. This paper has been published on the Internet in Canberra Australia and in Potomac USA.
    Copies can be obtained from “[email protected]”.
    We expect to hear from you all soonest?
    CAPT David L O Hayward (Rtd)
    Defence Research Analyst
    Queensland Constituent Body
    Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) of Australia Incorporated
    Victoria Barracks
    Queensland 4051

  • An earlier version of the RUSI research paper entitled “China’s Dependence Upon Oil Supply” was published on the RUSI website at in November 2008.
    An abstract of the paper was published in the Journal (June Issue 2009)published on the Internet by the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS)at
    The latest version (Version Number 31, Dated 21 February 2010) is about to be published by Defence iQ in London and New York. Refer to or contact Natalie Evans at [email protected]

    Best wishes,

    CAPT David L O Hayward

  • Joseph Herbert

    We must remember that before we westerners had crawled out of our caves the Chinese were writting on paper. That said, they have every right to the same ‘Freedom of the Seas’ we demand and expect.
    Most of their ship designs are of Russian design, they have designed some beautiful ships, but if the Chinese have the same quality issues that the Russians had/(have?), then their threat is somewhat mitigated.
    The embarrassing incident when their sub surfaced in the middle of Pac Fleet a year or so ago, can probably be explained by the fleet’s own noise and speed. Under those circumstances, Darter and Dace could have caused just as much misery.
    If they do something more than rattle the saber, that’s another issue entirely.
    I am however really worried about their MRBM as ship/fleet killers.
    Happy St. Patty’s Day to all!

  • Derrick

    The Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile is something that confuses me. If they fire the missile at a carrier, does that mean that China cannot have any naval ships within the immediate vicinity? I thought that missile was not guaranteed to hit a target directly but rather within an elliptical diameter of about 200km, so to me that means that China cannot have any planes or ships in that ellipsis either, correct? I’m trying to understand because I believe the intention of the missile was to deny US carriers from operating in a specific area where Chinese military was operating, but if they use the weapon, then they couldn’t operate in that area too, correct? And following from this assumption, if they fire a salvo of such missiles, then doesn’t that mean Chinese forces cannot operate in an even larger area?

  • Paul

    Hi Derrick

    Assuming that the Chinese can actually develop such a weapon, they’d probably have some kind of IFF built into their ships to keep from being hit by their own weapons. Or, they could turn that missile into some kind of super ARM missile and home in on US transmissions.

  • The Donfeng 21 anti-ship ballistic missile purports to be a formidable weapon. An estimated speed of Mach 10 and a range of 2,000km?
    Hopefully the US Navy is developing a new weapon to counter this weapon?
    If not, then Chinese “anti-access” policy may be strategically successful.

  • Chuck Hill


    This capability, as I understand it, is that the missile has a terminal homing capability of such accuracy that it can use a conventional explosive warhead.

    It does require that there be good information about where the target is.

  • doc75

    Indian perspective of Chinese (Pipe)Dream

    1. The starving Dragon was fed and fueled by America for the past 30 years or so. Finding fault with China’s approach to economic development is easy: cyclical overcapacity, state-influenced resource allocation, and growing social inequalities are just a few of its shortcomings. But it’s hard to see how any other model could have given the economy such a powerful kick start – the slave driving Communism.
    2. With out American economy and its huge appetite for Chinese goods – China will be nowhere. Zero. Null. Europe is never a friend of China. No doubt China is a great nation – a dangerous adversary in military & economic terms. But they have no friends.
    3. The Communist China government still controls most of the country’s financial resources and has been reasonably good at allocating them—that’s why the economy has grown so fast. But that comes with a cost – Freedom, Human Rights and Thinking.
    4. America has two great national qualities – Freedom and Innovation. No one can beat the Americans in anything. China can be a great workshop but the brain – designs/ innovations come from the USA or Europe. Chinese will never be able to match up US in military sophistication or in Technology leadership.
    5. Our dirty linen is washed in public because America is a democracy. How many people know the true situation in the dark villages in China? They only see shining roads of shanghai and its brand new skyscrapers.

    I feel China’s dream of world dominance is a pipe dream. It is a big mistake to turn against USA ( biting the hand that fed ) for it will cost China – its existence. China will collapse in its own weight and will face a revolution soon. Its a time bomb ticking. China will implode in its own anger and will not have a single friend left in the world to lend a helping hand…including Rouge North Korea and Terrorist state of Pakistan.

    India on the other hand will shine forth with all its inefficiencies of a democracy like the US and will have half of the world rallying behind – if China ever attacks India or attacks the USA…India will be behind the USA. We are already doing that in Afghanistan. We never have any designs for dominance – Military or Economic. We have a much larger concepts about life and beyond. Chinese should remember that majority of Buddhists in China worship an Indian – Buddha as God. We don’t. We taught them to THINK and behave like human beings. The power of our ( Indo-American) spirituality is greater than Chinese military power and China will face destruction not from outside but from within.

    As an Indian I feel dominance is not about power to hurt someone. Its about having the power and also the restraint not to do any harm.
    So America has nothing to fear but laugh at the Chinese for such opaque dreams & rantings of maniacs and fanatical communists. But Americans should not under estimate China ( or over estimate like USSR) – China is known for teaching lessons – example Chinese aggression of India in 60s. They called it – a resounding slap on India’s face. Only Americans came to our rescue.
    China should learn to respect its people and their pent up emotions – for if they don’t – they will face the same fate of USSR.
    Above all – one massive problem China faces & not much discussed in the Media is the Muslim factor in China. The Chinese Islamic fundamentalists will ring the death bell of China and nail its red coffin in their own way – Chinese Islamic Terrorism. a Chinese Taliban! Barbarians inside your bedroom!
    I still wish China good-luck and Godspeed…… and sincerely believe she has a chance to a new normalcy without such fanatical ideas.

    Ad Astra – To America & India – the true great nations

  • Hung Ky Nguyen

    I do believe that the US, and their allies should treat the warning of US Naval Institute seriously.

    I strongly believe that one of the biggest problems, which the US has ever made, was their decision to collaborate with China on trade in 1972. As a consequence, the US betrayed their allies Taiwan in 1972, and the South of Vietnam in 1975. On the other hand, since that time, China has enjoyed a great prosperity, while both USSR and US had deeply engaged in the Cold War, particularly with the highly expensive arms race. Currently, the US’ struggle has continued with the endless Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In my opinion, the Chinese are very smart in playing political games. Without spending much money, they have invested effectively in supporting corrupt regimes and the Maoist rebels in the Third World regions. In that situation, I believe that the US should restore their leadership role on the World stage, by supporting those nations and peoples, which have been the victims of China’s expansionism and aggression. Protecting human rights in China could be an effective way, too.

    I do think that the US should start review their policies towards China in areas, such as Diplomacy, Economics, Military, and Politics. They should also stop China expanding their influence in the South China Sea, by helping the ASEAN to resolve the Spratly Island conflict. Since the Cold War ended, the US’ Seventh Navy Fleet withdrew its presence in the South China Sea, helping the Chinese to fill in the political vacuum. If the US do not stop China in time, I am afraid that in the long run the map of China will expand further South. If a war broke out, the Chinese can easily block the vital trade route, which the US and their allies desperately rely on.

    I strongly believe that the World will be a much better place if we can stop China’s expansionism and Aggression.

  • Jimmy China

    The US is very ingenious in potrayinga China as a military threat. The Pentagons says the DF31 is a threat to the CONUS.Well to be frank the USgas 20000nw vs PLA 20. Who is the greater threat. Has China attacked any country other than India 962 and Vietnam 1979?
    the US has attacked Korea 1950,thretaened China 1950,1954 1958,vietnam 1965 and other contless wars. The US defence budget is the 50 times that of China.
    ThePLA will be a threat to the US it is under attack.The US is geared towards 15 minute attack syndrome.That is why the Chinese are building up their forces for defence. They will attack Taiwan if it declares independence and having been bullied by the west the last 190 years and subject to US nuclear blackmail in the 50’s ,they will ensure they can hit back and give unacceptable damage to the attacker.

  • Hey Guys/Gals,
    Have any of you sailors visited sunny Australia “Down Under”, that is Perth, Sydney, or Melbourne?
    Future Directions International (FDI)located in Perth has posted a compendium of strategic research papers on the Indian Ocean. This 162-page document is well worth a read. Essentially the FDI researchers are trying to fathom out the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) maritime intentions in the Indian Ocean.
    My own 45,000-word, 100-pages, research paper entitled “China’s Dependence Upon Oil Supply” has now been posted on at least seven websites (viz, IAGS (Potomac),RUSI,FDI, GERN-CNRS (Paris), Swiss ISN metadatabase,Sage International, and on a Vietnamese website). Have any of you sailors read this RUSI research paper?
    It’s a swell read!!
    Do look at it and throw some water back our way?
    CAPT David L.O. Hayward (Rtd)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Captain Hayward,

    I have had trouble finding a link to your 100-page paper. Could you possibly provide one? I would be quite interested to read it, and learn Australia’s perspective.