PACOM DOWNPLAYS CHINA TEST
The former assistant secretary of state for East Asia said at a meeting at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that a local incident — not a planned military attack — is more likely to produce a future U.S.China crisis.
The U.S. government has sought for years to develop a “rules of the road” for military interaction with China in Asia — with limited success, Mr. Campbell said Jan. 15.
“Our forces are out there, they’re going to be out there, we’re going to sail near one another. We need to know how we will operate in close proximity,” said Mr. Campbell, head of The Asia Group consulting firm.
The Cowpens “almost collided, literally less than 100 yards, from a Chinese vessel that went across its bow,” he noted.
For nearly two decades, the U.S. has tried to hold talks with China on maritime rules. “And frankly we have to ask ourselves why we’ve had such difficulty,” he said.
Among the reasons behind China’s reluctance is that Beijing regards the U.S. military as “the gold standard” for armed forces, Mr. Campbell said, “and they don’t want to reveal certain limitations of capabilities, so they’re very careful how they expose us in those interactions.”
Additionally, tensions between China’s military and the Communist Party have made it difficult for Chinese military officials to engage their U.S. counterparts “the way our four-stars do on a regular basis,” he said.
Party officials restrict China’s military from holding sincere talks with U.S. officials because such exchanges are regarded as the exclusive domain of the party.
“Third, what the Chinese want is for the United States not to operate so regularly and so close to their borders,” Mr. Campbell said, noting that the military views U.S.-China military agreements as tantamount to “giving seatbelts to speeders.”
An agreement outlining military operating rules in Asia would give the U.S. greater confidence and undermine Chinese efforts to drive U.S. forces out of the region.
“They don’t want us to have that confidence operating near them,” Mr. Campbell said, noting that Chinese opposition to military agreements is based on concerns that they will mirror Cold War pacts with the Soviet Union and thus reflect that China’s communist regime is today’s Soviet state.
“And lastly, China has a very different concept of deterrence than the United States,” he said. “Our concept of deterrence is shock and awe. Let’s show you what we got and that will dissuade you.”
For the Chinese, deterrence means “you’re going to have uncertainty” about what strategic military capabilities they will employ, he said.
All these factors expose “very deep differences in strategic culture,” Mr. Campbell said.
The challenge of the next 20 years, he noted, will be to try and reach common ground with Beijing on military issues.
For the United States, success in dealing with China will require a concerted political and military effort as well as close ties to allies, Mr. Campbell said.
The dovish commander of U.S. Pacific Command recently played down China’s stunning test of a new, ultra-high-speed strategic strike vehicle that many other military and national security officials say represents a quantum leap in Chinese strategic capabilities.
Navy Adm. Samuel R. Locklear said during a recent speech in Crystal City, Va., that he was not overly concerned about the test of the hypersonic glide vehicle.
Beijing’s military carried out the test of a missileboosted glide vehicle, dubbed WU-14 by the Pentagon, on Jan. 9. The maneuverable glider is said to be capable of traveling at speeds of up to Mach 10, or 7,680 mph, making it very difficult to counter with missile defenses.
Adm. Locklear went on to say that, in developing weapons technologies, the Chinese are “better at that than we are.”
“They get to it faster. Of course, they have different processes that allow them to get to it faster,” he said.
Adm. Locklear also said that because several