ON December 5, 2016, The Sun, a UK-based publication, reported: “The US is readying for World War Three with China by mobilizing 400 bases packed with warships and nukes to create a ‘perfect noose’ around the superpower.” It is part of US preparation for the possible implementation of its “Air-Sea Battle” doctrine that Pentagon planners have prepared to use against China’s “anti-access, area-denial” – a term coined by US military writers to describe China’s series of weapons systems that will prevent the US military from gaining access to potential battlefields (i.e., Taiwan, Korean Peninsula, South China Sea, East China Sea, Malacca Strait, etc.) or coming to the rescue of their principal allies in the region (Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Australia, etc.).
Such military encirclement is reminiscent of the Cuban missile crisis in October 16, 1962 when the USSR emplaced its missiles in Cuba. The world was put on the brink of a nuclear war then. Military analysts may be wondering why China is so silent on the matter. Such silence can mean only two things: either China is too timid and afraid to react to this very serious US provocation; or, China is confident that it can react and win if the US makes the first move – whether it be a conventional attack or a nuclear first strike.
China has long prepared for an event such as this. They knew that this event will eventually come when Paul Wolfowitz crafted his famous Wolfowitz Doctrine way back in the early 1990s: “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.”
At the time, China was not yet prepared. China had not yet perfected its “assassin’s mace,” a trump card weapons’ system designed to neutralize asymmetrically the advantages of its adversary in aircraft carrier strike groups, C4ISR, and military air and naval bases harboring not only advanced stealth bombers and fighter aircraft, but its logistic and communication hubs, command and control centers, and forces-in-being. At that time, too, China’s new great walls were not yet in place (i.e., the 5,000-km strategic tunnels, underground air bases, undersea submarine monitors, air defense system on the east coast, the artificial islands with runways, subway systems for civil defense, etc.) Hence, China’s leader at the time, Deng Xiaoping, cautioned the Chinese nation: “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.”
So, no matter how grave the US provoked China, the latter kept its cool. The US even deliberately bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999. Or when the US concentrated the largest naval armada (i.e. 7 aircraft carrier strike groups) massing off Taiwan in 2004, China just shrugged it off.
Now we have this situation where “400 bases packed with warships and nukes” seem to be tightening their noose around China’s neck. Why does China seem so cool and silent? Because China, to this analyst, is simply laying a trap! How so?
Those 400 bases, if they ever exist, cannot escape the intelligence gathering of China. Each of those bases would have been plotted as to exact GPS location, strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, capabilities, major assets, and strategic importance. A corresponding barrage of missiles would have been assigned to each one of them to ensure their neutralization and destruction within the first 10 to 15 minutes of the start of armed conflict. Since China’s military doctrine mandates that China will never be the first to attack, China will just wait for the first shot to be fired by US forces; but once the US starts shooting, all those 400 bases encircling China would go up in smoke – within minutes. That is how “high-intensity war of short duration” as envisioned by Chinese strategists will be conducted.
The US bases now surrounding China, to include those US bases surrounding Russia and Iran, are fixed, vulnerable targets that turn to weakness instead of strength for the US and its allies. China, Russia and Iran would surely concentrate on air bases harboring US stealth fighters and bombers. They will be eliminated in the initial salvo of missile barrages targeting those air bases. The elimination of these select air bases would mean the loss of air cover for US and allied forces; and the loss of air cover would mean the loss of the war itself.
And the US with its allies would have fallen into China’s trap.
“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” – Sun Tzu
A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1967 and an MPA 1990 from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Brig. Gen. Victor N. Corpus, (AFP, retired) spent five years with the New People’s Army (1971-76); was detained for 10 years under martial law and sentenced to death by musketry; but later became chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.