- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2023

The United States urgently needs to counter an ongoing, undeclared political war being waged by China, according to a new book by a retired Marine colonel and China expert.

“America and Americans need to realize that they are, in fact, already at war with China. It may not be ‘war’ by American standards, but to the People’s Republic of China it certainly is,” retired Col. Grant Newsham said.

Col. Newsham, who was also a former Foreign Service officer in Asia, told The Washington Times in an interview that U.S. elites need to understand that they are at risk of losing the conflict to Communist China.

“If the United States — or better said, Wall Street and our business class — don’t stop funding the Chinese economy, and by extension the People’s Liberation Army, we really can’t expect to prevail,” he said.

The United States must counter the threat posed by China using similar methods to those employed by Beijing — aggressively defending the U.S. democratic system and exploiting vulnerabilities in the ruling Chinese Communist Party through a coordinated political warfare campaign.

“If we do not respond intelligently, before we realize it, we will become the United States with Chinese characteristics,” Col. Newsham writes in the book “When China Attacks.”

Col. Newsham is a former intelligence officer who spent 40 years in the military and government. He argues that the ruling Chinese Communist Party does not distinguish between peacetime and wartime. Instead, China’s leaders and government see themselves as engaged in a constant state of conflict with enemies, with the United States as the main adversary.

The goal of Chinese President Xi Jinping is to replace the United States as the world’s sole superpower, and a key to that goal is building up China’s military strength. The People’s Liberation Army has been rapidly expanding both conventional and nuclear forces in preparation for a future confrontation with the United States.

The PLA, once a large ground force with obsolete weapons, has been retooled for modern warfare as China has grown wealthier and its technology sector has advanced.

Col. Newsham writes that the PLA is working toward creating military forces capable of defeating the U.S. military and protecting China’s global assets — ports, factories and farmland abroad.

Currently, China’s military could inflict major damage to U.S. forces close to China but is less capable against the American military farther from China‘s shores. The PLA currently cannot project power globally, but could do so in the near future.
Two objectives

Beijing‘s military budget is designed to meet the two goals, relying on a force that includes advanced air and naval forces, long-range missiles, cyber and electronic warfare tools, and large and growing numbers of nuclear weapons.

China’s primary goal is defeating the United States and projecting power globally, though Beijing prefers to achieve those objectives without a hot war, he said. Thus, China is engaged in “political warfare” against the United States, seeking to weaken and ultimately destroy the country, he said.

Under Mr. Xi, China has reverted to a Marxist-Leninist worldview that regards the international situation as a constant struggle for domination against those that would try to prevent China from assuming its rightful place as the world’s dominant superpower. 

“This is both a Chinese view of things and a Marxist view of the constant and inevitable struggle between rival and implacably opposed systems,” Col. Newsham said. “Only one can survive. That one is communism, according to Marx — and Xi Jinping — as embodied by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Col. Newsham states: “Chinese leaders will spend whatever it takes to achieve these two objectives.”

American leaders over the decades, he argued, have failed to comprehend that China has been waging low-level conflict, betting that U.S. leaders will not believe they are in a conflict unless and until shots are fired and war is declared.

“Everything else, even if Americans and others are imperiled, get hurt, or even killed, is just a ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘unprofessional behavior’ that, at most, results in a U.S. government official expressing ‘concern,” Col. Newsham said. “Or, if it’s really serious, ‘grave concern.’”

Instead, American military leaders describe the current political conflict with China a “gray zone” war.

“’Gray zone’ has the effect of kryptonite on us. We can’t figure out what to do, and the Chinese know it,” he writes. “They behave aggressively because they think they can get away with it. Apparently, they have good reason to think so.”

With Americans increasingly concerned about the growing likelihood of war with China, Col. Newsham offers a series of recommendations to reduce the risk.

The solution starts with the United States actively defending its system against Chinese political warfare and employing those same tactics against the CCP, Col. Newsham writes.

Psychological warfare is also needed to counter Beijing’s low-level attacks that stop short of military action, he stated.

Americans, the author argues, must also awaken to the nature of communist and totalitarian regimes, following Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2022 policy of requiring schools to teach students about the historical record of atrocities by communist regimes.

The U.S. government also should revive the Justice Department’s China initiative that sought prosecutions against Chinese-linked cases of technology theft. The initiative was launched under the Trump administration but canceled by the Biden administration for what critics said was a practice of unfairly targeting Asians.

Educating the public about China’s human rights abuses and the ruling party’s internal corruption is also needed, Col. Newsham writes.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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