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“Even then it struck me that this characterization was wrong,” he stated, noting Chinese warfighting in the Korean War and in border wars with India and Vietnam.

The problem of underestimating China continued. Some 20 years later at a conference at the U.S. Army War College, Navy officers “scoffed” at the notion that China was rapidly building up its forces with new weapons and, more significantly, the command and control systems needed for waging high-tech war, Mr. Wortzel wrote. The decades of underestimating the Chinese military threat prompted him to write the book.

Today, he notes, the Pentagon has developed an entirely new military battle concept to deal with the threat of China’s new weapons, specifically China’s arms designed to deny U.S. forces access and transit to areas near China.

Those weapons include cyberwarfare capabilities, anti-satellite arms and, in particular, the unique DF-21D medium-range anti-ship ballistic missile — a weapon the U.S. Navy has few defenses against.

Mr. Wortzel also makes clear that the Chinese military is not a national defense force but an arm of the Communist Party of China with its foremost mission to keep the party in power. The book also makes clear another hard truth: China’s military views the U.S. military as its main enemy.

The book highlights the incongruity between robust trade and economic relations between Washington and Beijing and the fact that both countries’ militaries are planning for war with each other, in space, on Earth and in the cyberrealm.

For high-tech warfare, China’s military has learned from advanced U.S. command, control, surveillance and targeting architectures. The result is improved precision targeting by the Chinese. To counter the Chinese threat, the United States should develop directed energy weapons, Mr. Wortzel writes.

Mr. Wortzel also challenges long-held U.S. intelligence estimates of China’s nuclear forces that put the number of Beijing’s strategic warheads at around 200. Other estimates by think tanks and the Russians place the Chinese nuclear arsenal as much as eight times higher — a significant gap that poses risks for U.S. nuclear deterrence capabilities.

Mr. Wortzel told Inside the Ring in summing up the book: “A cyber war between the United States and China is already taking place and China’s capacity in electronic warfare, information warfare, space, and missiles already is global.”

“The People’s Liberation Army also has made significant power projection advances in its naval and air power, and is improving in those areas,” he said.


China’s aggressive cyberattacks are destabilizing and pose a growing risk of future conflict in Asia, a security specialist told Congress on Tuesday.

“Weak cybersecurity creates the risk of conflict in Asia,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In cybersecurity, as in so many other issues, China’s behavior is the central strategic issue. North Korea’s cyberactions are worrisome, but China’s actions have a destabilizing regional and global effect.”

Mr. Lewis told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific that the United States needs to take steps to curb Chinese cyberattacks that he said pose “the risk of a cyberincident escalating into armed conflict.”

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