Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Politics of Inalienability

Dr. Mark Harrison shares his conference paper on "The Politics of Inalienability," which breaks down the notion that Taiwan is part of China into component parts and examines them individually.

The Chinese claim over Taiwan is a complex issue, but two aspects may be distinguished. Firstly, is the claim by the government of the People's Republic of China for sovereignty over the island of Taiwan as national policy. Secondly is the ideology, widely-held in the PRC that Taiwan is a part of China. The second informs the first, and the two are entirely conflated in practice. However, the two are conceptually distinct: Government policy on China’s territorial claim is a set of codified, although changeable conditions of government action, whereas the idea that Taiwan is part of China is an ideology maintained socially as well as politically and with which the government must contend, manipulate and manage in its interests.
Hat Tip: Simon World

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

China Not a Currency Manipulator

Logan Wright at Survived SARS posts on the decision by the Bush administration to not label China a currency manipulator and its effect on the tariff proposed by some in Congress. Logan rightly sees this as a "victory for free trade." Give it a read.
This move signals a much more assertive posture by the administration, who up until this point have been content to let Congress take the lead in public against the Chinese on this issue. However, a couple of Snow speeches before small audiences in Washington have signaled his clear opposition to the Schumer-Graham legislation that would impose a 27.5% tariff on all Chinese goods. By the way, have Schumer and Graham updated the bill to now propose a 25.3% tariff, taking the yuan's recent appreciation into account? Just wondering.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

China in Latin America

By Dawn's Early Light has been blogging quite a bit lately on China's growing economic and political involvement in Latin America. Is China planning on building a military base in Panama? Is China moving into position to take over the Panama Canal as Bill Gertz insinuated in his book China Threat? Is China just trying to buy off Taiwan's remaining allies in Latin America? Read this most recent post and decide on your own.

The Chinese, to grow their economy, require more natural resources than China has domestically. Securing metals and especially oil is vital to the long-term growth and modernization of the Chinese economy. China is seeking to obtain these supplies by increasing its good will with Latin American governments that have these resources, while minimizing Taiwan. Long-term Chinese goals will be to increase military contacts with these same nations to ultimately secure their economic interests.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Economic Integration

Michael Turton of The View from Taiwan has an interesting, in-depth analysis of the close economic ties between China and Taiwan. The most informative part of his analysis is his take on the resulting political effects, or lack thereof.

Yet another way to get a handle on the integration issue is to look at other pairs of nations with a long history of interrelating and shared culture. Take Germany and Austria. Ireland and the UK. The US and Canada. The US and UK. Australia and New Zealand. Ukraine and Russia. Taiwan and Japan. All these represent nations with shared cultures and languages, close trading relationships, colonial histories, and so on. Some of them are far more economically interdependent than China and Taiwan. Yet no one ever argues that New Zealand and Australia or Germany and Austria will become one state because they are so economically and culturally interdependent.

Update:The Madman of Chu responds here.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

PLAAF Flight Hours

I previously rounded up some information on the annual number of hours flown by pilots in the PLAAF, the traditional measure of a pilot's proficiency. My comments have apparently expired (thanks Haloscan). I have therefore rounded up the data again.
  • This RAND report (PDF) compares the PLAAF to the ROCAF:
    ROCAF pilots get significantly more flying time each year than do PLAAF airmen. The training standard for Taiwanese fighter pilots is between 150 and 180 hours per year, while PLAAF pilots may as little as 80 hours in the air each year. [36]

    The footnotes offer additional information:
    Published sources such as The Military Balance credit the ROCAF with 180 hours per year and the PLAAF with 80–110 depending on the type of aircraft. ROCAF personnel we talked with told us that their training levels were around 150 hours per year, while the PLAAF’s are often closer to 40–60 hours.

    The source also points out that ROCAF flight training is qualitatively better as well (37).

  • The Jamestown Foundation says PLAAF's non-Sukhoi fighter pilots average 115-125 hours per annum.

  • Bernard Cole's Great Wall at Sea estimates PLAAF pilots get no more than 120 hours (124).

  • David Shambaugh's Modernizing China's Military explains the PLAAF keeps flight hours low to minimize accidents (as backward as the idea may be) and because pilots are given minimal amounts of fuel to prevent defections (98).

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PLAN Troop Transport

In the comments of an earlier post, reader Dylan questioned my assertion that the PLAN could transport only one division to Taiwan.
How old are your estimates of PLA power projection capabilities? In the last two years PLAN has doubled its amphibious lift. PLAAF will double its airlift next year with new Il-76s. In addition, PLA has been doing far more serious and disciplined work on taking up ships and aircraft from trade for lift capacity enhancement. The "million man swin" is exactly as you described it - a concept of the past not the present or near future.

I like to answer one assertion at a time and thus will save the growing PLA Air Force (PLAAF) for another post and focus on the rapidly increasing ability of the PLA Navy (PLAN) to project forces to Taiwan.

I commented that the PLAN only had the capability to transport one division (10-15,000 troops with gear) across the Taiwan Strait. This has long been conventional wisdom in the PLA-watching community, but Dylan is wise to challenge such conventional wisdom in light of the fast-paced growth of the People's Liberation Army, especially the Navy component thereof.

China Commission Report
The most recent, although not necessarily the most authoritative, source on the subject is the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which, in its 2005 report, stated:
[D]uring the period 2001 through 2005, China built 23 new amphibious assault ships capable of ferrying tanks, armored vehicles, and troops across the 100-mile-wide strait to Taiwan. Nearly all the PLAN’s inventory of U.S.-built, World War II-vintage landing ships has been replaced by similar numbers of domestically-produced vessels. These new, larger, and more specialized vessels, combined with the new Dayun-class supply ships, will form the basis of a more modern and expanded amphibious fleet. [PDF, 123]

The Commission cited as its source this article, but the report never offers an estimate for the number of troops the PLAN can transport and thus we must look to the article. The article offers additional information. Here is the entire paragraph to offer context:
During the period 2001 through 2005, China moved ahead with one of the most ambitious military buildups in the world - including building 23 new amphibious assault ships that could ferry tanks, armored vehicles and troops across the 100 miles to Taiwan. Nearly all of the PLAN's inventory of US-built, World War II-vintage landing ships have been replaced by similar numbers of domestically-produced vessels. These new, larger, and more specialized vessels, combined with the new Dayun-class supply ships, will form the basis of a more modern and expanded fleet. Shortcomings in long-range lift, logistics, and air support, however, hinders China's ability to project amphibious forces.

At this point, you have probably noticed two things:
  • The report plagiarized the Global Security article wholesale.

  • They deleted the last sentence of the paragraph, thus offering information about the rapid build-up but not a comprehensive assessment of the PLAN's ability to invade Taiwan. Wouldn't want any objectivity getting in the way, I guess.

The article continues:
The PLAN's amphibious fleet provides sealift sufficient to transport approximately one infantry division, although it has yet to conduct training exercises on this scale. The PLAN also has hundreds of smaller landing craft, barges, and troop transports, all of which could be used together with fishing boats, trawlers, and civilian merchant ships to augment the naval amphibious fleet. While in principle large numbers of troops could be transported by such expedient means, in practice such a "human wave" assault would be a high-risk undertaking, particularly in the absence of rehearsed air and sea cover. [emphasis added]

I have already addressed the notion that the PLAN can utilize fishing boats to augment its invasion force to any significant degree here and thus will spare you a recap.

Pentagon Report
If an August article from Global Security isn't credible enough, or you just wanted a second opinion, fear not. Last July, the Pentagon released its annual report "The Military Power of the People’s Republic of China," which I analyzed in detail here. That report attributes to the PLAN "40 medium and heavy amphibious lift vessels" in the text of the report and further clarifies in the appendix that China has 20 tank landing ships and 23 medium landing ships (PDF, 4, 44). It never uses the ship count to quantify the PLAN's troop transport capability, a deficiency for which I criticized the report at the time of its publication.

There are numerous other defense publications that estimate the PLAN's ability to transport ground forces to Taiwan, but none of them that I am familiar with are recent enough to be helpful if PLAN troop transport capabilities are advancing as quickly as some people believe. Anyone who has additional 2005 sources, please post a link in the comments.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Taiwan Doesn't Need the Subs

I have been the leading proponent of Taiwan purchasing the eight diesel submarines offered them by the United States in recent months. No more! MeiZhongTai is officially changing sides in this debate.

Debates on Taiwan's special budget have been going on for months between Michael Turton, Sun Bin, and myself. The most controversial piece of the arms package has proven to be the eight diesel submarines at a cost of 657 million USD each (2.5 times the regular cost of a comparable diesel submarine).

In the past, I reasoned that Taiwan, an island nation, cannot risk ceding the subsurface to a potential invading/blockading force (the PLAN) and thus must be willing to pay any cost to acquire a force that can contest submarine control, even if it would lose in a drawn-out contest. An 8:50 ratio in submarines would force China to fight for dominance, while a 2:50 ratio would amount to surrender (especially considering the identity of Taiwan's two seaworthy submarines at present). Tis better to have fought and lost than never to have fought at all, I reasoned.

After considering the arguments of my fellow China/Taiwan bloggers and discussing the matter further with a professor of mine, I have concluded that I was approaching the issue all wrong. The logic that I was missing is embarassingly simple. If China has to battle Taiwan's submarines for control of the subsurface, it won't dispatch its entire submarine force to do so. China would, at most, send two of its attack subs in search of every Taiwanese sub. Were Taiwan to acquire the eight new submarines, that would distract, at most 16 PLAN submarines in a Taiwan Strait conflict. That would leave China 39 attack submarines to sink the ROCN surface fleet or Taiwan's merchant marines, or protect its own invasion force. Additionally, any ROC submarine that successfully carries out an attack on PLAN forces would be immediately sunk by PLAN submarines, destroyers, or sub-hunting aircraft.

In such a scenario, the cost-benefit analysis becomes a simple one of comparing the cost of an ROC submarine to the cost that China would incur for adding two additional attack submarines to its fleet. Obviously, China's growing defense budget can more easily foot the bill for two domestically produced subs than can Taiwan's shrinking defense spending afford to buy subs at such an inflated price.

Thank you to Sun Bin, Michael Turton, and those with whom I discussed this issue in person for showing me the light. This is exactly why I blog... to force me to defend my assertions and reevaluate them in the face of additional (and possibly conflicting) information.

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Vatican Two Step

Taiwan is playing host to a senior envoy from the Vatican amid speculation that the Holy See is planning to switch diplomatic recognition to the People's Republic. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran is giving hints that the Vatican may attempt to open diplomatic relations with China while maintaining official relations with Taiwan, something no country has yet been able to accomplish.

From the Taipei Times:
A senior Vatican official, whose visit to Taiwan prompted speculation that the Holy See may soon break ties with the nation, said yesterday that the Vatican would not abandon Taiwan even if it opens an embassy in China. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, a former Vatican foreign minister, said the Holy See would find an 'appropriate way' to maintain ties with Taiwan. 'When religious freedom is realized in China, then the Holy See is ready to change the nature of relations with Taiwan,' Tauran said in a speech in Taipei. 'If and when the normalization [of relations with China] happens, the Holy See will not abandon Taiwan,' said Tauran, who is scheduled to meet President Chen Shui-bian during his week-long stay. He did not elaborate, but added that the Holy See never took the initiative to break diplomatic relations with its allies.

Update: Is Taiwan's MOFA trying to convince the Vatican to go?

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ROCA Force Quality

Here is a paper I wrote for one of my classes (hence the different format). What do you think?

SUMMARY: Taiwan Army's technological advantage has eroded, but its personnel advantage remains. China’s ability to project power, and thus achieve local preponderance, has improved but remains insufficient. Taiwan should take measures to maximize its personnel advantage while working to achieve technological parity. END SUMMARY

Taiwan is constantly under threat of attack by the People's Republic of China (PRC) but has not seen sustained combat in over a half century. In the absence of combat, the best measures the potency of Taiwan's army are its ability to achieve a preponderance of force relative to an invading force, the technological sophistication of its advanced weapons systems--particularly armor, and force quality. Its military effectiveness will be considered relative to the forces of an invading People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Naval and air forces will not be evaluated with the exception of China's ability to use its naval and air forces to project ground forces, which is central to evaluating the PLA's ability to achieve a favorable local force ratio.

The PLA has 1.6 million soldiers on active duty, eight-times the number of Taiwan (The Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2005, 43). The PRC is unlikely, however, to be able to turn that overall advantage into a favorable local force ratio in an invasion of Taiwan. Michael O'Hanlon, who has conducted the most extensive unclassified analysis of the subject to date, has concluded that China would be unable to establish a beachhead on Taiwan ("Why China Can't Conquer Taiwan," 68-69). His estimates are somewhat dated, but his estimate that China would be able to project no more than 15,000 men (with equipment) by sea and 6,000 by air provide a good starting point for analysis (Ibid, 62). Even minimal advance notice of attack would allow Taiwan to station its forces at the relatively few areas of its western shore where China could land forces, guaranteeing Taiwan local force ratios in its favor. Additionally, even if the PLA somehow proved able to gain a foothold in Taiwan, Taiwan’s army could be reinforced at least five times as fast as the PLA (Ibid, 68-9). Therefore, due to proximity of reinforcements to the conflict, Taiwan can expect to have numerical preponderance in any conflict on the island.

Armor Forces
As discussed above, China is unlikely to get a sizable force ashore. Were it to do so, however, PLA forces would try to expand their area of control as quickly as possible and attempt to break out of Taiwan’s containment. Tanks would be vital to exploiting any hole that the PLA forces were able to open up in Taiwan’s defenses and therefore a comparison of the armored forces of the two nations is relevant.

Taiwan’s best tank is the M60A3 Patton main battle tank, which is comparable to the Russian-made T-72. Estimates as to the number of M60A3s in service in Taiwan’s Army vary (A,B) but average to approximately 430. Taiwan also has approximately 550 M48 Pattons and variants (specifically the CM11 and CM12) and 675 M-41 and M-41D Walker Bulldogs, which are being phased out of service.

The PLA would employ its Type 99 amphibious tank in an invasion, which is a seriously modified Type 63 tank that is sometimes designated the Type 63A-1. Due to confusion with the designations, the total number of this particular model are unknown but China’s limited number of tank landing ships (20) makes the total number of Type 99s irrelevant
(Military Power, 43).

In a head-to-head tank battle, the lighter, faster, and more powerful Type 99 would have the advantage over the much older Patton. Without information about the location of the Chinese invasion, any estimate of what local armor ratio could be expected would be unreliable. Due to the warning time that Taiwan would have in any invasion and the size of the island, Taiwan could expect to have a large enough numerical advantage to negate any technological advances possessed by the Type 99.

Force Quality
The Taiwan Army has numerous force quality deficiencies. Most important is the lack of initiative on the part of its tactical leadership. Company-grade officers and below are given little or no opportunity to make leadership decisions unsupervised. The failure of more senior officers to delegate meaningful tasks to subordinates results in lieutenants and captains spending their days on tasks that should be accomplished by enlisted personnel. Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) are often treated like children and assumed by officers to be incapable of even the most basic of tasks without supervision. The paucity of tactical leadership, combined with the scripted nature of military exercises, casts serious doubt on Taiwan’s ability to carry out the modern system of force employment.

The second largest problem plaguing Taiwan's army is poor morale as a result of being a conscription-based force. This problem is complicated by the low regard that Taiwan's citizens hold for army officers and men. Many conscript soldiers predictably view military service as a nuisance to be completed with as little effort as possible. A general conception that Taiwan has no hope of success in a war with China also undermines any esprit de corps that develops. Additional concerns are poor maintenance, a failure to integrate warning systems into the core military communication system, and stovepiping in both training and acquisition.

China’s military exhibits all of the aforementioned deficiencies and more. Michael O’Hanlon summarizes the quality of the men of the PLA as follows:
Although Chinese military personnel are generally competent at basic infantry skills, the armed forces do not tend to attract China's best, nepotism is prevalent, party loyalty is of paramount importance, most soldiers are semiliterate peasants serving short tours of duty, and a strong professional noncommissioned officer corps is lacking. [62]

The primary difference between the two forces is the quality of training. The training of the Chinese military has been described as ranging "from spotty to poor." Taiwan’s forces, on the other hand, train to Western standards under a cadre of American educated and trained officers and NCOs. They are generally considered to be proficient at the application of military force with the exceptions noted above.

In an invasion of Taiwan by the People's Liberation Army, Taiwan can expect to have theater and local numerical superiority in both infantry and armor. Taiwan’s advantages in numbers and training will likely compensate for any pockets of excellence enjoyed by the Chinese, such as deadlier tanks. Taiwan could expect to extract a heavy cost from an invading Chinese army and emerge victorious.

Recommended Course of Action
Taiwan should address its deficiencies in force quality to maximize its advantage in this area. Taiwan's egalitarian and democratic government give it a comparative advantage in force quality that, to date, it has not sought to maximize. Specifically, Taiwan should take steps to empower its junior officers and maximize the influence of its NCOs through changes in training and task delegation. China's autocratic regime makes it much harder for the Communist leadership to entrust its tactical leadership with equivalent duties. This course of action will provide the ROC Army with the increased flexibility that delegation of decisions offers and generally maximize the utilization of its human capital. This modernization can be enacted by changes in education and Army culture with little or no financial cost to the army.*

Additionally, Taiwan should continue to modernize its weapon systems, including its armor forces, as funding is available. There is no reason to cede the technological advantage to China when the distances involved should provide Taiwan with the advantage in heavy forces. Increased focus on anti-tank weapons or more advanced tanks would help address this weakness at minimal cost.

Taiwan’s preponderance of forces is deemed sufficient. No increase is recommended, although drilling must be conducted regularly to ensure the ability to rapidly mobilize and deploy reserve forces.

*Army culture is often characterized as resistant to change. In fact, it proves to be extremely malleable when rules and customs for promotion are altered. When an officer’s delegation of tasks and the capabilities of his subordinates become part of fitness reports for promotion, the culture will follow.

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Writing Up a Storm

Angry Chinese Blogger posts on a book entitled "An Introduction to China," which was written by a Taiwanese author and paints a vile picture of China.
Taiwanese nationalists have been actively seeking to raise nationalist feelings in Japan and to increase support for Japan's discredited nationalist minority, based on the principle that, the more Japan turns to nationalism the more it will turn against Mainland China, and the more that it turns against Mainland China, the easier it will be for them to recruit Tokyo as an ally in Taipei's cold war against Beijing.

How bad of a picture of China, you might ask.
Throughout its pages, "An Introduction" variously describes China as being a nation whose economy is fueled by prostitution and whose people are fixated with cannibalism and the fabrication of their own history. It plays down Japanese war crimes against China, and even goes so far as to suggest that Japan was the victim of Chinese aggression during the Sino-Japanese war, rather than the other way round.

I'm not a big fan of ACB's use of "Chinese Taiwan" throughout the post (That is even worse than "Chinese Taipei"), but otherwise it is quite an interesting read.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Cope India: Another Loss?

Last year's Cope India exercise appeared to be a resounding defeat for the United States Air Force (USAF). It appears this year's exercises were a repeat of last year's. Newshog brings the news (Hat Tip: Michael Turton):
As the Cope India 2005 Indo-US air force exercises wound down today after two weeks of feverish action in the eastern skies, the US Air Force were left with a stark, double-edged realisation. One--that it is no longer the unchallenged leader in the skies, and two--for all future joint operations in South Asia, the IAF would, without doubt, be its natural partner.

While this seems a bit extreme (Newshog calls the report "even more jubilant"), it is nonetheless concerning. Since it is appearing in this forum, it is obvious that the implications for China (Can the PLAAF reasonably hope to defeat the USAF?) will be analyzed, rather than the implications for India (Why buy this plane if our current planes can beat it?).

Personally, I am still inclined to believe that the American pilots were holding back, as was widely believed to be the case in 2004, in order to justify acquiring the F/A-22 and F-35. On the other hand, I am increasingly eager for the United States to acquire those fifth-generation fighters. I guess that means the pilots have accomplished their goal.

Even if the American pilots genuinely were outclassed, I still sleep easy at night knowing that the Chinese pilots they might conceivably face aren't getting enough flight hours.

A blog named India Defense has another good article on the subject here.

Update: Dawn's Early Light has a good discussion of the 2004 exercise that explains why the US lost much clearer than I have found elsewhere. LGM also has a post on the subject.

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Bush Visit

Some pundits seem to be upset that President Bush hasn't done more to upset the Chinese. He gave his biggest pro-democracy speech in Japan. He gave his big anti-communism speech in Mongolia. Many think both speeches should have been given in China even at the risk (or due to the prospect) of riling the Chinese. Additionally, he attended a state-sanctioned church instead of a "house church." Two Republican Congressmen have a plan to cure all that.

From the Taipei Times:
Two pro-Taiwan members of the US House of Representatives proposed that President George W. Bush take advantage of his current trip to Asia to visit Taiwan as a token of US recognition of the island's outstanding achievements in promoting freedom and democracy. Representatives Tomas Tancredo and Robert Simmons, both Republicans, made the appeal in a joint letter dated Nov. 15 to Bush, who is attending the 2005 APEC informal leadership summit in Busan, South Korea.

That would surely rile up the Chinese. Why do such a thing now?
The congressmen said in the letter that if Bush were to make a brief visit to Taiwan following the summit, he would be able to meet with Taiwan's leader to lay an emphasis on the importance of arms procurement for the country's future, in addition to reaffirming US commitment to a free and democratic Taiwan.

That would send entirely the wrong sign to Taiwan. I have previously pointed out differences between the American and Taiwanese arguments for procuring this weapons system. Starting from the Taiwanese version, a trip to Taiwan would look like strong-arming the legislature into purchasing the weapons. It would also make President Bush look weak. When the strongest power in the world is begging you to buy arms, you might just try to see what you can get out of him in return. Do we really want to create a The Taiwan that Can Say No movement?

(For those not familiar with The Japan that Can Say No or the other similar texts, like The France That Can Say No, it represents the idea that the US is just as dependent on Japan as Japan is on America and thus Japan can ignore America's wishes.)

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Power Politics: Tragedies and Transitions

An article by John Mearsheimer has brough Logan Wright of Survived SARS out of his "blogging slumber." Mearsheimer writes bluntly:
THE question at hand is simple and profound: will China rise peacefully? My answer is no. If China continues its impressive economic growth over the next few decades, the US and China are likely to engage in an intense security competition with considerable potential for war.

Mearsheimer is simply applying his Offensive Realist theory ("The ultimate goal of every great power is to maximise its share of world power and eventually dominate the system.") to a rising China, as Logan points out in greater detail. Mearsheimer's conclusion (China is rising and America doesn't want a peer competitor in Asia) isn't particularly novel. This has all been said before and seems to me to be entirely to simplistic to be interesting, much less enlightening.

Power Transition Theory
A much more interesting analysis, in my opinion, is that of Jacek Kugler and Ronald Tamen. Regional Challenges: China's Rise to Power (PDF) looks at China's rise through the eyes of Power Transition theory, which is explained in detail here.

Simply put, Realists tend to disagree as to whether the international system is most stable with one, two, or multiple powers. Power Transition theorists would argue the number is irrelevant. Wars result from shifts in the distribution of power. When the hierarchy of power in a region is challenged and the rising power is dissatisfied with the international system, war is likely to result.

Since most experts expect China to surpass the US economically near the middle of this century, the answer to Dr. Mearsheimer's question above can be found in to what degree China is satisfied with the current international system.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

China's Ballistic Missiles

According to the 2005 report "The Military Power of the People's Republic of China":
China has deployed some 650-730 mobile CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) to garrisons opposite Taiwan. Deployment of these systems is increasing at a rate of about 100 missiles per year. Newer versions of these missiles feature improved range and accuracy. [4]

These missiles often come up in conversations about China employing force upon Taiwan. It is worth taking the time to do the math and figure out what exactly 700 missiles (plus or minus) could accomplish.

Quantity of Missiles
China has about 700 SRBMs, but how many of those would actually be used? Strategist and Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling points out the value of the threat of force relative to its employment:
To be coercive, violence has to be anticipated... It is the expectation of more violence that gets the wanted behavior, if the power to hurt can get it at all. [Arms and Influence, 2-3]

Thus it would appear that China would want to hold a substantial missile capability in reserve to maximize its influence. This is logical because, were China to shoot all of its missiles without Taiwan capitulating, it would have little remaining leverage (short of an invasion or blockade). While it is anyone's guess how many missiles China would calculate that it should hold in reserve, I've heard from a few different military types that one-third or more is the standard formula. If that is the case, that would mean that China could employ about 467 of its 700 and maintain a reserve of roughly 233.

Mechanical Malfunctions
Chinese SRBMs were designed to be improved SCUD missiles. Thus it would seem to be fair to use estimates for the probability of mechanical malfunction in flight used for the older Soviet tactical missiles. The probability of a missile surviving its flight (not accounting for missile defenses) ranges from 70% to 90% for such Soviet missiles. Assuming the Chinese missiles are on the more reliable end of the estimates, 10% (or 47 missiles) are still lost to mechanical malfunctions. That leaves 420 missiles headed for Taiwan.

Missile Defenses
Currently Taiwan's missile defenses are meager. Taiwan fields 200 Patriot-2 Plus (PAC-2 Plus) missiles for its three Patriot batteries. Were it to acquire the Patriot missiles under consideration for purchase from America, Taiwan's Patriot inventory would increase to almost 600 with the majority being Patriot-3s (PAC-3). Both generations of Patriots are untested under combat conditions and thus it is unclear how many incoming missiles Taiwan's missile batteries could be expected to destroy with or without the new PAC-3s. Estimates for the success of earlier generation of Patriots in the first Gulf War vary too much to be helpful.

I personally would guess that the Patriots would have a 50% kill rate, but to be honest I have no data to back that estimate up. Based on my estimates, Taiwan could kill 100 missiles before they reach their targets (with their current Patriot capabilities), bringing the number that would cause damage down to 320. If more Patriots are acquired the number reaching Taiwan would be further reduced.

One problem with this analysis is that China may have already found a way to improve their SRBM's survivability against Patriot missiles. (Hat Tip: Michael Turton)
Mr. [Richard] Fisher... believes the PLA used illicit Patriot data to improve M-9 [CSS-6] short-range missiles aimed at Taiwan, which China views as a breakaway republic and has vowed to reincorporate with the mainland -- by force if necessary. "They used the information from the Patriot for the M-9 to be able to evade Patriot interception," Mr. Fisher said. [source]

CSS-6s have a circular error probability (CEP) of 280 meters. CSS-7s have a CEP of 200 meters. With this accuracy, and assuming that the targets are not hardened and the target location is precisely known to the Chinese, China would have a 3% probability of destroying a building with a CSS-6 or a 6% probability of destruction with a CSS-7. With this limited degree of accuracy, it would take 44 CSS-6s or 23 CSS-7s to destroy a target with 75% certainty.* Thus, if China's missile batteries are composed equally of CSS-6s and CSS-7s, China could expect to destroy ten buildings with 75% certainty using all of its missiles (except the 233 it has held in reserve). If no missiles were held in reserve and thus 530 missiles reach their targets, 15 buildings could be destroyed with the same degree of certainty.

GPS Upgrades
The most recent models of both SRBMs may be equipped with global positioning system (GPS) guidance systems which improves their accuracy to a CEP of 30-45 meters. With such an accuracy, the missiles could be expected to achieve a one shot, one kill accuracy with 87% confidence. This would completely change the accuracy section of analysis above and allow China to be relatively confident of its ability to kill one target with each missile. With GPS upgrades, China could reasonably expect to destroy 240 targets with its 320 missiles that reach their targets or 461 targets if no missiles were held in reserve.

The above analysis assumes that China has a specific list of targets that it deems most important to destroying Taiwan's will to defend itself, such as the Presidential Palace, the Ministry of Defense building, command and control facilities, and Taipei 101. This may not, however, be the case.
That’s the lesson that Saddam taught us, that ballistic missiles may have little military value but do have great terror potential. [GEN Charles Horner]

If China were to target populated areas instead of specific targets, it would be able to create great destruction. No longer would China be launching 20 or more missiles at one target, and it could send all of its missiles toward Taiwan's residential and commercial areas with the greatest population density. This would be a direct attack on national will--as would any missile attack. China could not take any ground with missiles, only boots on the ground can do that, but China may hope to convince Taiwan to surrender because of the vast destruction and threat of more destruction (see the importance of reserves).

National Will
When attacking national will, missiles are no different than saturation bombing. The same munitions, delivered by different platforms (planes instead of missiles) were seen on both fronts in World War II and numerous times since. Bombing cities in order to sway the population was first tried in the Battle of Britain and served only to strengthen the resolve of the Brits to fight and win the war. It has never had the decisive negative effect on national will that the air forces of the world often attribute to it.
[I]n more than thirty major strategic air campaigns that have thus far been waged, air power has never driven the masses into the streets to demand anything. [Bombing to Win, 68]

Simply put, the combined warhead capacity of 467 CSS-6 and CSS-7 SRBMs (1,100 pounds each) is the equivalent of only 9.5 Vietnam era B-52 sorties (54,000 pounds each). Even if all 700 SRBMs were used and all reached their targets, it would only equal 14 sorties. To look at it another way, the 700 SRBMs would only total 385 tons of high explosives, compared with the hundreds of thousands of tons dropped on Vietnam, for example.

Any prediction as to what level of bombing would cause Taiwan to surrender is nothing but a guess, but if Taiwan surrendered as a result of such a minimal attack, it would be "history's statistical outlier," as one of my professors characterized such unlikely events. Many nations, including the ROC during the shelling of Kinmen and Matsu Island, have survived much worse.

Other Options
Another strategic bombing possibility is that the missiles would be aimed at command and control (C2) installations or strategic resources such as oil reserves. The goal would be to undermine the country's ability to wage war and thus encourage capitulation. In either case, such missile strikes would only be decisive if combined with other military action. Degrading C2 would only be beneficial if coupled with an invasion and oil is easily replaced unless a blockade is put into place.

Further Reading: After a significant amount of research, I found this analysis (PDF) of India's Prithvi missile to be the best analysis of the potential effectiveness of a conventionally-armed missile. My calculations have focused on the destruction of soft targets or semi-hardened buildings. If anyone is interested in calculating the effect China's SRBMs would have on Taiwan's airfields, the math is explained therein.

*This analysis is based on numerous assumptions. For simplicity of analysis, I assume that the lethal radius of each missile is 60 meters, as would be the case with a high explosive warhead (the most logical for the destruction of buildings). Other warhead types (prefragmentation, incendiary, or cluster) would differ. Additionally, I assume that if the missile lands within the blast radius of the center of the building, the structure is destroyed. The totality of destruction will vary with the size and hardness of the building, but I find this to be a fair simplification.

Update: An article in the Christian Science Monitor also looks at China's missile capabilities and comes to the same conclusion.
Then there are those 600-800 Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan from Fujian province in China. US commanders, Taiwanese politicians, and journalists often describe these missiles as if they are a decisive military threat. In fact, they are more likely symbolic. As a munitions expert told the Monitor, 700 missiles is "nothing. For a military attack that is supposed to incapacitate and paralyze a country, it is not impressive."

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Taiwan's Representive at APEC

The Asia-Pacific Ecconomic Cooperation (APEC) is one of the few international organizations in which Taiwan is allowed to participate. Because the forum consists of "member economies," not countries, China has no objection to Taiwan's participation as "Chinese Taipei." Hong Kong is also a member.*

The challenge for Taipei is choosing a representative. President Chen Shui-bian would never be allowed to attend as Taiwan's representative, for example. At this year's summit, Taipei was represented by Lin Hsin-yi, an economic advisor to President Chen. Chen had initially chosen Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who was rejected by South Korea, the events host, at China's request.

During the 2001 APEC meeting in Shanghai, Lin was prevented from speaking multiple times by Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan. In Seoul this week, however, the Chinese representatives were much more polite. Chinese President Hu Jintao shook Lin's hand and introduced Lin to his wife as "Mr. Lin Hsin-yi from Taiwan."

Even more noteworthy is Lin's meeting with Japan. This is the first APEC meeting since the US and Japan released their common strategic objectives, which included
Encourage the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Strait through dialogue.

That February pronouncement was the first time Japan has included Taiwan in its security objectives and Lin sought to maximize on that shift during his APEC visit. As the Taipei Times reported:
Sources said that Lin had a private meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday morning. Lin probed the possibility of Japan establishing a Taiwan Relations Act, similar to that of the US, in order to improve relations with Taipei.

While there are those in Japan agitating for such a security guarantee, I doubt it will amount to anything.

*Another organization that "Chinese Taipei" has been able to join is the World Trade Organization. Taipei entered as a "separate customs territory."

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Economic Growth and Liberty

After the conclusion of the APEC Summit in South Korea, President Bush will head to Beijing. During his visit to Japan earlier this week, Bush called on the Chinese regime to liberalize, claiming a link between economic growth and political and religious freedoms.
As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well. President Hu has explained to me his vision of "peaceful development," and he wants his people to be more prosperous. I have pointed out that the people of China want more freedom to express themselves, to worship without state control, to print Bibles and other sacred texts without fear of punishment. The efforts of Chinese people to -- China's people to improve their society should be welcomed as part of China's development. By meeting the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness, China's leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous, and confident nation.

Biography of an Idea
The notion that economic liberalization leads to political liberalization is not a new one. The Clinton administration argued back in 2000 for extending Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to China on the grounds that:
including China in the world trading system would lead to development of a market economy and to political reform and a more open Chinese society. [iv (PDF)]

Robert Zoellick and others have argued the same. Last week, however, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in its 2005 report, concluded that this has not been the case in China to date.

China's economy has been growing at 8-10% annually for over two decades and will continue to do so for the next fifteen years, according to China's director of statistics. A brief look at the blogosphere doesn't give any impression of liberalization politically. Simon blogs on Beijing's (unsuccessful) attempts to keep as much power as possible at the center. Martyn posts on Beijing's fear of a "Color Revolution," which is to say American export of freedom and democracy. The simple fact that Martyn has to spell freedom and democracy with the number zero replacing the letter o to get around the Great Firewall of China indicates to me the lack of liberalization on the government's part.

Chinese President Hu Jintao recently stated that the world need not fear a rising China. In his 2002 China visit, Bush commented:
China is on a rising path, and America welcomes the emergence of a strong and peaceful and prosperous China.

I would argue that a better statement would be that America welcomes the emergence of a strong and prosperous China, if that China is also free and peaceful. If not, America and others will remain cautious.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

China Commission Report Analyzed

I posted five days ago on the release by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of its 2005 report to Congress. At that time, I was only able to offer a link to the analysis of another blogger as I had not yet had time to read the full report. I just completed the report and have some thoughts on their analysis and recommendations.

  • CNOOC's Unocal Bid: The China Commission recommended against allowing CNOOC to acquire Unocal. I posted on this issue here.

  • Mercantilist Oil Policy: The commission accuses China of "mercantilism" in its efforts to acquire fossil fuels:
    China should be strongly encouraged to (1) abandon its policy of acquiring oil at the wellhead or field in a mercantilist fashion; (2) procure oil and gas according to international practices (i.e. purchasing it on the open international marketplace); and (3) cease providing assistance, arms, and proliferation-related technologies to problematic states in possible return for access to their energy resources [176]

    The commission misreads the implications:
    Every barrel of oil that China buys in America, whether it is in North America, Central America, or Latin America, essentially means one less barrel available for the U.S. market. [170]

    While this is true, it is irrelevant whether that barrel is consumed by China or America, the laws of supply and demand still remains true.

    Robert Zoellick has said of the matter:
    Chinas economic growth is driving its thirst for energy. In response, China is acting as if it can somehow "lock up" energy supplies around the world. This is not a sensible path to achieving energy security. Moreover, a mercantilist strategy leads to partnerships with regimes that hurt Chinas reputation and lead others to question its intentions. In contrast, market strategies can lessen volatility, instability, and hoarding.

    Zoellick's comments come much closer to the real problem, which is connected to oil only tangentially. It is explained by the commission as follows:
    In part in order to obtain access to energy resources and raw materials, China utilized and expanded relationships with nations such as Iran, Sudan, and Zimbabwe that have earned international opprobrium for objectionable human rights, terrorism support, and other activities. In these interactions, China focused on its narrow interests while dismissing international concerns. [143-144]

    Whether China spends this political capital to acquire a good deal on oil or not is irrelevant. The problem is the undesirable frienships and weapons sales, not the oil. The macroeconomic effects of China paying less than market price in currency (and probably above market price when the cost of its UNSC vote and other factors are considered) is negligible. China's deal with Sudan or Zimbabwe is similar to the American deal with Saudi Arabia. While both pay a price below market value, neither noticeably effects the market as a whole.

  • USG and Taiwan: The commission finds:
    The U.S. government has not laid adequate groundwork to allow a rapid response to a provocation in the Taiwan Strait. Almost any possible scenario involving U.S. military support to Taiwan would require extensive political and military coordination with the Taiwan government and regional allies, but the foundations for such coordination have not been laid. [117]

    In order to address that deficiency, the commission recommends:
    [T]he arms sales package should remain on offer, and it further believes that Congress should take steps to facilitate strong working relationships through such measures as authorizing the exchange of general and flag officers, conducting interactive combat data exchange with Taiwan defense forces, providing increased opportunities for Taiwan officers to be trained in the United States, and establishing institutional relationships with the Legislative Yuan to improve the oversight of defense matters. [135]

    I agree with the commission's conclusion and recommendation.

  • Six Party Talks: The commission stated:
    The extent of Chinese cooperation in the Six-Party Talks to achieve a complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons programs is a critical test of the U.S.-China relationship. [161]

    While the commission is right about the amount of leverage China holds over North Korea (ie: 90 percent of North Korea's energy supplies come from China), the analysis of Angry Chinese Blogger tells us that this is unlikely to be fruitful.

  • Revaluing the Yuan:The New York Times weighed in on this issue with the following:
    Last week, a bipartisan advisory group delivered a report to Congress that sharply criticized China's trade practices and endorsed imposing sanctions, including a tariff on imports, unless Beijing takes forceful steps to allow its currency to move in line with market forces[...] Certainly Mr. Bush should urge China to move toward a more market-based currency[...] But Mr. Bush must resist the advisory group's shortsighted calls to hit Beijing over the head with the blunt instrument of trade sanctions. Smacking China until it complies with us on trade is a short-range policy that doesn't take into account that it is now a political as well as an economic global power. There is more at stake in the world than how many made-in-China T-shirts are on sale at Wal-Mart.

    While certainly more than T-shirts are at stake, the Times is correct. The value of the yuan has a significant impact on the US-China trade imbalance, but tariffs are not the answer. The clearest explanation of the inherent problem is given in Commissioner William Reinsch's dissenting opinion:
    It is clear that the Commission majority has never met a sanction it didn’t like or didn’t want to impose on China. Despite overwhelming evidence that unilateral sanctions fail to achieve their objectives and at the same time impose significant costs on the sanctioning nation, the Commission continues to recommend their imposition or expansion. [218]

  • Defense: The commission's report gets most of its defense information from the Department of Defense's 2005 China Report. One noteworthy addition is a thought provoking quote from Representative Rob Simmons:
    China is buying new submarines literally by the dozen. [123]

    This is certainly true and should be worrying to those who don't wish to see a conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

  • Special Budget: The report states:
    Regrettably, the KMT has blocked President Chen’s legislative efforts to pass a special budget for defense purchases in a purely partisan move to gridlock his government [130]

    I am sure that Michael Turton will be as pleased, as I am, that someone in the American government finally understands the true nature of the KMT's opposition to the special budget--obstructionist, plain and simple. The report explains just how important signals such as these can be to the likelihood of war:
    The government gridlock in Taiwan that has resulted from the political in-fighting over national security issues sends a signal of weakness to Beijing and endangers U.S. security interests in the Pacific. As Princeton political scientist Thomas Christensen pointed out, any weakening of the security relationship between Washington and Taipei diminishes the deterrence presented to Beijing, and this is true whether or not Beijing seeks to avoid a conflict across the Taiwan Strait. [133]

  • Media Control: The China Commission was founded by Congress to analyze the effects of extending PNTR to China. The Clinton administration claimed that free trade would result in an opening up and democratization of China. Due to this mandate, the commission also evaluates how trade with the United States affects the control of the government over information. The commission concluded that the government has as firm a grip over the spread of information as it has in the past. I agree completely. I have written numerous times about the Great Firewall of China and posted an advertisement on the bottom of my blog to the Reporters Without Borders report on control of the internet.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

EU Arms Embargo

The European Union (EU) placed an arms embargo on China sixteen years ago due to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. For some time now the lifting of that embargo has looked imminent as EU leaders have become increasingly concerned about missing out on selling arms to what is likely the world's fastest growing military.

Angela Merkel, leader of Germany's Christian Democrats and the Chancellor-elect, plans to reverse that tide. (Hat Tip: East Asia Watch) Unlike outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who co-led the effort to end the embargo with France, Merkel supports the continuation of the embargo.

The Pentagon's 2005 China Report "Implications of Lifting the EU Arms Embargo" section concludes that:
In the medium to long term, however, the acquisition of European defense technology would significantly improve PLA capabilities. [25]

What specifically is China seeking?
China is most likely interested in acquiring advanced space technology, radar systems, earlywarning aircraft, submarine technology, and advanced electronic components for precision-guided weapons systems. [25]
Ending the embargo could also remove implicit limits on Chinese military interaction with European militaries, giving China’s armed forces broad access to critical military "software" such as modern military management practices, operational doctrine and training, and logistics expertise. [24-25]

In addition to those obvious implications, the Pentagon found reason to be concerned about secondary effects:
Lifting the EU embargo would also lead to greater foreign competition to sell arms to the PLA, giving Beijing leverage over Russia, Israel, and other foreign suppliers to relax limits on military sales to China. [25]

For more on the embargo and its implementation, see this Taipei Times article.

Update: In my original post, I forgot to mention a key player in the move to remove the embargo: EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. He also has been working to end the ban.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

China Commission Report

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission yesterday submitted its annual report to Congress. Recent blogroll addition East Asia Watch has the synopsis.

The commission was created by Congress in order to:
monitor and investigate and report to Congress on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China.

Previous reports by the commission can be found here.

Update: I have analyzed the report in greater detail here.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

China's Friends

Angry Chinese Blogger has been keeping a close-eye on Chinese relations with North Korea. First ACB blogged "Blame the Dragon, Slay the Ogre" about the American effort to increase pressure on China to use its leverage with North Korea. The Scoop Jackson National Security and Freedom Act is an interesting and controversial concept which is not being discussed nearly enough, I feel.

ACB followed up with another look at Chinese-North Korean relations through Chinese eyes in "We will choose our friends as we see fit". China has a habit of associating itself with the nations the rest of the world wants to see shunned (North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe). This article gives insight as to China's feelings toward such relationships.

Excerpt from the latter article:
There is an old saying in Asia: Similarities call out to friends, and in few places is this more evident the relationship between North Korea and China., and if recent announcements and trends hold true, this relationship looks set to evolve, into something much more solid and much more sustainable, much to the distress of nationalist elements in Washington.

Since the end of the Korean War, China has acted to support its ideological partner in terms of military assistance, civilian aid, and political recognition, in what has largely been an ‘aid provider-aid receiver’ relationship that has seen China assisting North Korea for reasons of unity and political face. However, recent moves by Beijing now show clearly that China intends to expand this relationship to a new level, much to the chagrin America, which would see North Korea isolated from the world and resigned to the status of pariah state.

During a high level press briefing, welcoming Chinese president Hu Jintao return from a three day ‘good will’ visit to North Korea, Wang Jiarui, the head of the International affairs department of China’s ruling central committee that China announced that China was now moving steadily to expand its dealings with North Korea to cover a broad range of area, and indicating that that Beijing soon hoped to develop the uneven Sino-North Korean relationship into a full two way economic relationship that would bring the two countries closer together than ever.

(Note that my blog doesn't correctly display Chinese or Japanese characters and thus such characters have been editted out)

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Spy Ring

A spy ring has been uncovered in California that fed defense information to Chinese military intelligence. Initial reports indicate that information on the Aegis weapon system, Virginia class submarine, and American aircraft carriers may have been compromised. (Hat Tip: View From Taiwan)

One interesting, if exagerrated, quote from the article comes from an anonymous American government official:
The Chinese now know more about our military than we know about their entire country.

Updated: Bill Gertz has an update.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

ROC Dragon Ladies

EastSouthWestNorth has translated a history of the U-2 Dragon Lady in the service of the Republic of China, specifically the five members of the Black Cat Squadron that were shot down by Chinese surface-to-air missiles.
The Black Cat Squadron was a group of pilots from the Republic of China who had been trained by the Americans to fly the U-2 spy planes. The first operation was mounted on January 13, 1962. Flying at 75,000 feet with a range of 4,000 miles, the U-2 planes were beyond the reach from most conventional weapons and airplanes.

Meanwhile, the PLA had established the PLAAF 1st Surface-to-Air Guide Missile Battalion in October 6, 1958. Later on, the Beijing and Nanjing military districts also formed the 2nd and 3rd Battalions respectively. These battalions owned only five sets of SAM-2 guided missile launch platforms and a total of 62 guided missiles. In October 1959, the battalions were secretly deployed in the Beijing area during the 10th anniversary celebration of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

In October 7, 1959, the PLAAF was able to use 3 SAM-2 missiles, which have an accuracy rate of only 2%, to shoot down an American made RB-57D spy plane. This was how the U-2 came into the picture.

Go read the rest.

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