Navy Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo–Pacific Command, recently made the claim that China is in the middle of the largest military expansion since World War II. He recently made the comments at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The buildup is across every vertical of their armed forces. China has embraced the maxim that sea power makes great power and currently has the largest navy in the world. It just recently launched its third aircraft carrier, the Fujian. It is the first carrier that was completely designed and built by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) domestic infrastructure. Previous models had been either purchased from communist countries or based on old Soviet designs that were woefully out of date.
In addition to the aircraft carrier platform, the CCP is breaking technological ground by producing autonomous ships. The Zhu Hai Yun is operated by artificial intelligence and carries both air, sea, and underwater drones. Military planners are concerned about its ability to launch drone attacks as well as its area-denial capabilities. The Zhu Hai Yun can be used to harass and expel other vessels from the South China Sea. A particularly useful function if China was ever to invade Taiwan.
China has also made great strides in missile technology. Its recently tested hypersonic missile far exceeds the capabilities of any missile in the known arsenal of the U.S. armed forces. Military observers are concerned that the platform is specifically being designed as a “first use” weapon to launch a surprise nuclear attack on the United States.
While conventional and nuclear weapons platforms make up the bulk of the CCP’s strategy, they also have a robust cyberwarfare program. State-sponsored hacking is growing at an alarming rate, which some pundits consider low-level warfare. The CCP is stealing intellectual property, constantly probing the nation’s defenses and obtaining the personal information of millions of Americans — as of 2022, China has stolen data from 80% of U.S. adults.
The Western powers had hoped that liberalization of trade with the CCP would result in China adopting democracy. Unfortunately, it looks like all we have managed to do is arm our enemy.