The coronation of Xi Jinping during the recently completed 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bodes ill for the world. The Congress rubber-stamped Xi as general secretary of the 20th Central Committee of the CCP, chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), as well as the packing of the 20th Politburo and CMC with Xi’s allies.
Xi’s consolidation of power paves the way for the expanded pursuit of the CCP’s global ambitions, which include displacing the United States as the world’s top economy and replacing the existing international order with an alternative “with Chinese characteristics.” Xi has crafted various strategic initiatives aimed at achieving world dominance over time, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as “One Belt, One Road”), Made in China 2025, Maritime Silk Road, Digital Silk Road, Global Security Initiative, Global Development Initiative, etc.
The objective is the modernization of the Chinese industrial base—and ultimately the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—through the infusion, exploitation, theft, and transfer of advanced technologies into the Chinese economy. With economic dominance as the “world’s factory, industrial warehouse, and supplier” comes geopolitical and military dominance. And China has set a centennial goal of being able to field and deploy a fully modern military by 2027, as crowed by state-run Global Times.
During his report to the 20th Congress, Xi hinted at his intentions to use the expanding capabilities of the PLA more aggressively in the future. He stated that China will become “more adept at deploying our military forces on a regular basis and in diversified ways, and our military will remain both steadfast and flexible as it carries out its operations.”
The world has witnessed one element of those “diversified ways” in the PLA’s intimidation operations in the Taiwan Strait in recent months. In August, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Chinese aircraft and ships crossed the midway mark of the Taiwan Strait” into the Taiwanese ADIZ to conduct simulated attacks on Taiwan.
Other aspects in the future will likely include power projection, forward presence, and influence operations supporting BRI-related commerce in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Watch for more “show the Chinese flag” PLA navy port visits in the Arabian Gulf and to selected African countries as time goes by. Xi intends that the PLA will be the “iron fist in the velvet glove” of communist Chinese diplomacy and trade relations going forward.
China’s neighbors are watching intently and have immediate concerns about Beijing’s regional intentions. From Japan’s annual white paper, “Defense of Japan 2022″: “Chinese military trends, combined with insufficient transparency about China’s defense policies and military affairs, have become a matter of grave concern to the region, including Japan and the international community, and these trends have been intensifying in recent years.”
Those troubling military trends of concern include the following: the rapid expansion of the PLA navy (new aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, guided missile destroyers, and nuclear submarines); the development and deployment of hypersonic missile systems; the modernization of J-20 stealth fighters; the introduction of the H-20 stealth bomber; the rapid modernization of the PLA Rocket Force; the advances in “intelligentized warfare”; the deployment of modern ISR capabilities and advanced weapons development, including the testing of a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS) that deployed a hypersonic glide vehicle that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons; and significant improvements in joint operations.
Perhaps most troubling is the ongoing Chinese nuclear breakout. As reported by the U.S. Naval Institute, Toshi Yoshihara, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment, stated that “China is building hundreds of new missile silos in the western part of the country, fielding road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles, developing a fleet of new strategic bombers with improved long-range strike capabilities, and putting to sea additional ballistic missile submarines.” These developments mark a change from past Chinese statements of their “benign intentions” regarding their nuclear intentions.
There is increasing concern that the CCP’s real objective goes beyond simple parity with the United States in nuclear delivery systems and warheads. While the New START Treaty limits the United States to “1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments,” the Chinese communists are unconstrained by any nuclear weapons limitations agreements and continue to resist bilateral nuclear arms talks with the United States.
In parallel with the development, modernization, and rapid expansion of PLA capabilities, the Chinese have developed an integrated political-military strategy for hybrid warfare that weaves various diplomatic and other non-kinetic actions together in a coordinated fashion to achieve designated tactical and strategic goals. The aim is to achieve those goals without resorting to the use of force, if possible, by using a variety of synchronized tactics. These include the following:
- Set a target/goal and propagate it domestically and internationally via state-run media.
- Infiltrate and exploit international institutions to undermine and influence international conventions and norms to achieve the target/goal.
- Use psychological/information warfare to influence decision-makers and masses of people.
- Ignore past treaties and commitments and violate them when convenient (the absorption of Hong Kong is a case in point).
- Exploit the communists’ new national security law to coerce and control overseas Chinese and intimidate and influence foreign governments.
- Use cyber warfare and social media to interrupt, confuse, and ultimately influence foreign decision-making processes to support the CCP’s target/goal.
- Intimidate other nations via the “wolf warrior” diplomatic corps, Chinese coast guard, PLA navy operations, PLAAF overflights, and other direct actions.
- Leverage foreign appeasers, sympathetic journalists, think tanks, bribed and controlled diplomats, and others to create an echo chamber that reinforces CCP policies and plans related to the target/goal.
- Vehemently and publicly denounce all resistance and attempts to defeat and deter CCP policies, plans, and actions related to the target/goal.
- Relentlessly pursue the above coordinated hybrid warfare tactics until the target/goal is achieved.
Xi has made no secret of his intentions to elevate China to world leadership in all spheres of human endeavor. The real tells are the first words of two of his grand plans: the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative. He has global (if not megalomaniacal) designs on the rest of the world that are not benign.
Xi’s report to the 20th Communist Party Congress provided tantalizing glimpses of his domestic and international objectives, as well as his plans to “diversify” the operations and missions of the People’s Liberation Army to help achieve those goals. He praised the continuing rapid modernization of the PLA. And the appointment of his cronies to the Central Military Commission should be seen as a red flag and sign of future Chinese aggression in East Asia and beyond.
The CCP has developed and tested various hybrid warfare concepts to reinforce and augment the PLA’s kinetic operations. Various aspects of those hybrid warfare tactics have been and are being implemented against the United States, Japan, Australia, India, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Unfortunately, there are only too many people worldwide willing to help Xi and the communists achieve their world dominance objectives.
The signals of impending Chinese aggression and belligerence are clear as day.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.