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Will China Rule the Waves?
by Joseph J. Buff, [IMAGE]2005

New York State Military Museum talk, 3 December 2005

1. Why do we need to be asking this question?

2. What factors might influence the answer?

3. What should we do soon to positively affect the outcome?

Overview of China – some side issues that interconnect

Very bad human rights record

Restiveness is violently repressed

Powerful, growing economy

Manipulative yuan/dollar exchange rate

Bad ecocide, huge energy needs

Real population 1.5 billion – 300,000,000 unregistered births

Ambitious, driven, proud, patriotic people

Rural/urban schism nothing new

Superb university system emerging, amazing PhD output numbers

A large middle class & big trade ties don’t stop war: Germany x2

China as potential military threat: Decoupled from BRAC debate

They gave the world Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” in 500 BC

They practice what they preach, and mean what they say

Recent track record of cross-border aggression

Korea was first big U.S.-China war: brutal casualties

Tibet – blatant imperialism

Invading Vietnam – wakeup call for PRC to modernize

Russian border fighting in past, lovey-dovey now

Recent joint military exercise a giant trade show

High tensions with Japan – WWII hatreds linger

Spratly Islands 5-way territorial dispute – naval maneuvers

Forcing down, stripping U.S. state-of-the-art EP-3 spy plane

PLAN admiral re Taiwan: “U.S. carriers keep out or else”

Declared intent to have world-class blue water navy in 2020s

The 24-character strategy: “Never claim leadership” – uh oh!

Intentions versus capabilities???

We’ll come back to this

How China is & isn’t like old USSR as a threat to America

Communist government, centralized control

ICBMs with H-bombs capable of hitting entire U.S.

Superb HumInt ops within U.S.

Superpower aspirations, a non-theist society

Crucial nautical choke points likely centers of naval conflict

Widening network of vassal states

Strong economy, not weak and imploding one

Much larger population to ramp up armed forces

Excellent year-round ice free harbors all along huge coastline

Always had a quasi-capitalist under-culture

Careful studies done recently of Soviet cold war strategic mistakes

It’s all about submarine muscle: 21st century capital ships

Seize the initiative in cold (and hot) undersea warfare

Some lessons of history

Sea Power key to global hegemony

Military and economic potency interrelate

Portugal, Spain, Holland each in their day

Britannia ruled the waves – note past tense

Japan as a (scary) cautionary lesson?

Commodore Perry “opens” a feudal Japan -- gunboat diplomacy

40 years later, Japan has modern combat fleet via UK help

Tsushima Strait: slaughters Russian Navy, shocks the world

30 years later, Imperial Japan invades Manchuria

Tokyo’s “Supercarrier” navy: Pearl Harbor

Modern-era Time Compression: “do the math” on China

Building global web of “coaling stations” (navy bases)

Is Taiwan a red herring?

Shift in Taiwan domestic politics is very significant

“One country, two systems”

Win over, don’t conquer, a key stronghold in “Chain of Pearls”

Announced PRC goal: triple the U.S. submarine fleet in 20 years

Us maybe 50 subs, PRC “New Fleet” maybe 150

Is “subs, not carriers” defensive or offensive now?

Are Ming-class accidents not the real point?

Good mix of foreign-bought & home-grown SSKs, SSNs, SSBNs

Buying Russian Improved Kilos with Air Independent Propulsion

Shkval torpedoes, & excellent sub-launched anti-ship missiles

U.S. intell missed the entire new PRC’s “093” SSN class – oops!

First PRC Aegis cruiser recently operational – oops again!

Will China buy Russian Akula-IIs and Severodvinsk/Borey next?

Walker spy ring data Moscow-to-Bejing jump-starts sub arms race

The alleged Chi Mak espionage foursome: Virginia’s secrets, etc.

So what should we do? Accept it, new Cold War is on.

“Hope and pray” strategy won’t cut it. Isolationism is doomed

“Learn to speak Chinese” not attractive. Surrender not an option.

“Steel fist in velvet glove” has important potential, & is essential.

Gamesmanship & deception: Out-Sun-Tzu the bastards!

Learn world-class HumInt. Don’t be shy on psy-ops either

Relearn ASW & counter-mine warfare: practice, practice, practice

“Reliable allies” is alas an oxymoron these days

Accelerate Virginia build rate to 2 per year NOW!!!

Convert any more retired Trident subs into SSGNs.

Preemptive undersea ISR: get in their faces, deployed & annoyed

Think like Beijing: what are THEIR goals and aspirations?

“Winning through intimidation” is classic sea power stratagem

Guam, Midway land grabs? A west-east thrust, not north-south?

American public education on National Defense & Deterrence 101

How casualty-averse will we be by 2020+???

Teddy Roosevelt: “Battleships are cheaper than battles”

Handout (page 1 of 1)


3 December 2005 talk

“Will China Rule the Waves?”

by Joe Buff,,


Two good websites for technical specs on different submarine classes:

Free on-line documents about China’s military (as printable pdf files):

1. Annual Report to Congress: “The Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2005”, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 19 July 2005


2. “China’s National Defense in 2004” whitepaper by the PRC government


3. “Effect of U.S.-China Trade on the Defense Industrial Base” testimony before the U.S.-China Commission by James A. Lewis, June 23, 2005


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