In the past two months, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military threats to neighboring countries and maritime confrontation with the U.S. military entered a new stage, a more dangerous stage, as the Sino-U.S. Cold War and naval exercises aimed at intimidating each other continued to escalate. Is the CCP’s belligerence a temporary misjudgment, or is it a continuation of its tradition? Is the CCP’s nuclear threat to the United States real or fake? This is an important question worth pondering.
US: Show of Force and Facing a Budget Reduction at the Same Time
Since the first half of last year, the CCP has incited the Sino-U.S. Cold War through a series of nuclear threats against the United States.
One group believes that if the Biden administration is unwilling to increase military expenditures, expand U.S. armaments and prepare for war, the CCP may do whatever it wants; the other group believes that the U.S. military only needs to send the CCP a ready-for-war signal, and other countries threatened by the CCP can then sit back and relax.
Both of these views have ignored another aspect of the problem: the U.S. military is indeed trying to demonstrate its power to deter the CCP, but the Biden administration is trying to restrain this effort.
Since the beginning of this year, the U.S. military has continuously stepped up its efforts to prepare for war and deter the CCP through intimidating actions. The U.S. Navy has transferred most of its existing aircraft carrier fleet and amphibious assault ships to East Asia to enhance its defense in the region.
Such a show of force targeting another nuclear superpower is unprecedented post-World War II, and it is larger in scale than the naval confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
This indicates how vigilant the U.S. military is in the face of the CCP’s military threats under the current Sino-U.S. Cold War.
On the other hand, the current U.S. government has not taken concrete actions to encourage efforts by the military; instead, it tried to make things harder for the military.
On April 9, the U.S. Navy reported on its official website that the U.S. military’s proposed military budget for the next fiscal year is $753 billion, but the Biden administration’s military budget submitted to Congress is only $715 billion U.S. dollars, a decrease of 2.3 percent from the actual military expenditures of $731.6 billion in the current fiscal year. Taking inflation into consideration, the military budget cut is actually more than 5 percent. Moreover, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives may further reduce the defense budget submitted by the administration.
At the same time, the Biden administration is spending huge sums of money on programs helping illegal immigrants from Central and South America, it can be seen that being short of money is not the real reason behind the military budget reduction.
Tensions across the Taiwan Strait Now an International Crisis
Does the CCP want to attack Taiwan? The answer lies in its combat readiness and the recent military intimidation of Taiwan. When the CCP dispatched its aircraft carrier group to the eastern waters of Taiwan and assumed a posture of encircling Taiwan, when it continued to strengthen its military power in Fujian Province (across the strait), threatening Taiwan by force, one can make a clear judgment. If the CCP believes that an attack on Taiwan will not bring itself danger, it may take the next step to enter actual combat preparations.
But today’s crisis across the Taiwan Strait is no longer limited to an isolated issue of cross-strait relations. The CCP’s three nuclear threats against the United States in the first half of last year triggered the Sino-U.S. Cold War. For the United States, 30 years after the end of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, peace in the Indo-Pacific region has been broken by the CCP’s military expansion and war preparations.
Under such circumstances, the Taiwan Strait crisis is closely related to the national security of the United States.
From a military perspective, if the CCP controls Taiwan, the U.S. military can no longer effectively defend the first island chain, but can only retreat to the second and third island chains, making it unable to effectively deter the CCP’s strategic plan to use nuclear submarines to threaten the United States in the Central Pacific or East Pacific waters.
From an economic perspective, once Taiwan is controlled by the CCP, the entire East Asian region may fall into the CCP’s military encirclement, and the national security of Japan and South Korea cannot be guaranteed. In the context of economic globalization, when East Asia is under the control of the CCP, the global economy will plunge into danger.
Therefore, not only has the U.S. military made it clear that it wants to help Taiwan maintain its security, but Japan has also realized the seriousness of this issue. When Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga visited the United States, the main purpose was to communicate and cooperate with the United States to help defend Taiwan. This is because once Taiwan is conquered, Japan will be in a serious predicament.
The CCP’s Invasive Tradition
The CCP has never been a peace-loving regime; on the contrary, it has always wanted to use force to achieve its international ambitions. In the eyes of the CCP, the occupation of Taiwan is not part of its international goal, but an “internal affair.” Similar to the former Soviet Union, its international ambition is to turn other countries into its own sphere of influence.
The CCP’s participation in foreign aggression can be divided into three types. First, the CCP’s army may directly enter a foreign country to participate in another country’s civil war, such as the Korean War; Second, it may use all means to arm and support its “proxy forces” inside other countries to launch a civil war in that country, such as occurred in the Vietnam War. Third, it may directly fight with neighboring countries, such as the Sino-Vietnamese War in the late 1970s.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the CCP first initiated an independence war in Vietnam, and then instigated the Vietnam Civil War in the 1960s. In addition to the Korean War and the Vietnam Civil War, both of which led to the intervention of the U.S. military, the CCP also fought border wars with India, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam, and attacked Kinmen Island with cannons on a large scale.
It is well known that the CCP dispatched a volunteer army to fight against the United Nations in the Korean War. As a matter of fact, North Korea was completely incapable of large-scale ground battles. The CCP sent its infantry to North Korea to help North Korea prepare for a civil war in 1949, one year before the Korean War broke out.
In 1949, Stalin designated territories with Mao Zedong as follows.
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was not familiar with Vietnam as it was too far away, and the Viet Cong had historically been close to the CCP, so the Indochina Peninsula was “assigned” to Mao.
After World War II, France resumed its colonial rule over Vietnam. In early July 1950, shortly after the founding of communist China, Chen Geng, a famous CCP general, commanded the Viet Cong army trained by China as the chief military adviser to attack the French army. China also provided Vietnam with a large amount of military assistance. The strong support of the CCP enabled the Viet Cong to defeat the French army and take over North Vietnam.
China’s Role in the Vietnam War
The Vietnam War from the 1950s to the 1970s that shook the whole world was actually entirely instigated by the CCP. At that time, the Republic of Vietnam in South Vietnam did not want to attack North Vietnam, but Mao Zedong wanted the Viet Cong to occupy South Vietnam.
After Stalin’s death, Mao wanted to be the spiritual leader of all communist countries. For this reason, he had to compete with Moscow in terms of international strategy on the “communism vs. democracy” battle.
At that time, the CPSU proposed a foreign strategy of peace and no war, while Mao wanted to prove that his “seizure of power by force” strategy, which achieved success in China, could be applied to every country in the world. Mao wanted to outperform Moscow, and that was the very reason he instigated the Vietnam War.
During the three-year famine in China from 1959 to 1962, Mao exhausted China’s national power to launch the Vietnam War and later dragged both the United States and the Soviet Union into the proxy war. Without the CCP’s supply of arms and the huge amount of assistance in other aspects, there was no way the Viet Cong could have continued fighting.
The CCP’s military assistance to North Vietnam and helping the country train its troops began in the late 1950s, and the North Vietnamese army was then ordered to launch the Vietnam Civil War. The military assistance peaked in December 1964, when the CCP and the Viet Cong signed a military agreement. According to this agreement, the CCP dispatched 300,000 soldiers (5 infantry divisions and 5 artillery divisions) to North Vietnam to replace the North Vietnamese army in its role of national defense, allowing the North Vietnamese army to fully devote itself to the battles with South Vietnam.
In 1968, the Viet Cong put most of its main force in South Vietnam, but was defeated by the U.S. Army, and had to hold bilateral talks with the United States in Paris. According to Lê Duẩn, then general secretary of the Viet Cong, the CCP put pressure on North Vietnam, saying, “You cannot sit down and negotiate with the United States. You must bring American troops to the territory of North Vietnam to fight against them.”
According to China’s official data, to support the Vietnam War, the CCP provided Vietnam with a huge amount of combat material, including 179 aircraft, 145 ships, along with tanks, armored vehicles, crawler tractors, 16,333 cars, more than 37,500 pieces of artillery, 2.16 million guns, 1.3 billion cannon shells, 153,000 tons of compressed dry food and other food, as well as other items. The total value of military support from the CCP reached as high as $20 billion.
The situation changed dramatically when the United States began to approach the CCP in 1971. In order to cope with the military threat from the Soviet Union, Mao fell into the arms of the United States. As a result, the Vietnam War ended with the withdrawal of American troops and the Viet Cong occupying South Vietnam.
The CCP sacrificed the Chinese people’s quality of life to provide huge sums of aid to Vietnam. However, Vietnam and China became enemies in the end. This was because the CCP regarded the Viet Cong as a puppet in its hands, and ordered it to attack or retreat whatever the CCP wanted it to. The leader of the Viet Cong had the same mindset as Mao when Mao was suppressed by Stalin. Therefore, instead of showing thankfulness for the CCP’s support to help them occupy South Vietnam, the Viet Cong was full of hate for the CCP for letting them fight against the United States as cannon fodder and then turning around to reconcile with the United States. As a result, the Viet Cong later turned against the CCP, and the Sino-Vietnamese war broke out in the late 1970s.
Is the CCP’s Nuclear Threat to the United States Real or Fake?
On Feb. 3 this year, Commander of U.S. Military Strategic Command Charles Richard penned an article in the February issue of the U.S. Navy’s authoritative magazine Proceedings, calling on U.S. military leaders and government leaders to try to deter China’s aggressive actions, including taking action to meet the real possibility of nuclear deployment by the CCP.
Richard warned that Moscow and Beijing have “begun to aggressively challenge international norms” in “ways not seen since the height of the Cold War.”
“These behaviors are destabilizing, and if left unchecked, increase the risk of great power crisis or conflict,” he wrote.
The U.S. Military Strategic Command is the agency responsible for implementing nuclear deterrence against enemy countries during a cold war, including providing the U.S. President and the Secretary of Defense with the most accurate and timely military information.
His warning indicated that the CCP’s nuclear submarine activities have made the U.S. military feel that it is not a normal exercise, but a preparation for war.
The CCP will not report any of these military activities, nor will the U.S. military authorities. However, a nuclear war commander like the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command would not make casual remarks on such important issues. Now that he has spoken out, it means the U.S. military has collected adequate intelligence and then come to such a judgment as a consensus among the top military leaders.
This article itself is also a stern warning to the Chinese military. Under the conditions of the Sino-U.S. Cold War, the United States will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s repeated attempts to send its nuclear submarines into the Central Pacific in order to threaten the United States with nuclear missiles. It will certainly take preventive measures which will inevitably lead to confrontation between the navies of the two countries, with their submarines and anti-submarine aircraft.
Cheng Xiaonong is a scholar of China’s politics and economy based in New Jersey. Cheng was a policy researcher and aide to former Chinese Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang. He also served as chief editor of Modern China Studies.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.