Chinese President Xi Jinping is refashioning his country’s military into a potent fighting force that in some critical areas now surpasses the US armed forces, making an American victory over China in a regional war far from assured, Reuters reports today.
A scenario considered unthinkable not so long ago in Asia is now possible. According to retired Admiral Gary Roughead, who held the top job in the US Navy, America “could lose” in a regional war with China over Taiwan.
“We really are at a significant inflection point in history,” said Roughead, who was Chief of Naval Operations until his retirement in 2011.
Intent on challenging American hegemony in Asia, China under Xi has established control over much of the South China Sea, stepped up military maneuvers aimed at pressuring long-time US allies Japan and Taiwan, and for the first time has sufficient firepower to deter American aircraft carriers from sailing too close to its shores.
Today’s story is the first in a series of special reports, “The China Challenge,” which reveals how the dramatic advances made by China’s People’s Liberation Army, many of them under Xi, are ending decades of American supremacy in Asia and reshaping the global order. China now has a conventional missile arsenal that in some cases outperforms that of the United States and the output of its naval shipyards is about twice that of America’s. Reuters is also reporting that China has succeeded in upgrading its ballistic missile submarine capability, bolstering its nuclear deterrence by giving it a more reliable second-strike option.
Xi Jinping’s overhaul of the People’s Liberation Army is the most far-reaching since the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. He has purged more than 100 generals and installed a coterie of staunch allies in the uppermost echelons of the defense establishment. The new chain of command created by Xi reports directly to him.
Under US President Donald Trump, America’s strategic approach to China is shifting. After decades of seeking engagement with Beijing, the United States is now boosting defense spending, rebuilding its navy and developing new weapons, largely in response to the challenge posed by Xi.
Xi’s willingness to challenge US dominance in Asia has amazed many. Reporting for this story reveals how he slowly and quietly ascended the Communist Party and state bureaucracy, making his emergence as a dominant leader and “risk taker,” as a former Taiwanese defense minister described him, a surprise to many. Now, he regularly dons fatigues as he tours army bases and inspects warships, telling the troops they must be ready to fight and win.
China’s Ministry of National Defense, the US Indo-Pacific Command and the Pentagon did not respond to questions from Reuters.