China’s long-term goals are clearly expansionist, putting the country on a trajectory to supplant the global economic, military, and diplomatic dominance of the United States. In keeping with long-standing Chinese practice, the process will be slow, steady, and cautious. Aggressive war, such as the potential invasion of Taiwan, is to be eschewed as entailing great risks. If the circumstances are right, however, there is no reason to believe Beijing will not seize an opportunity.
LONG HISTORY, LONG VIEW
The Chinese consider their country to be 4,000 years old, dating back to the as yet undocumented Xia Dynasty (2070–1600 BC). Their unifying cultural identity derives from the Han Dynasty (206 BC to AD 220), roughly contemporaneous with the height of the Roman Empire in Europe. Political unity began at the same time but did not survive the fall of the Han. Dynasties came and went, ending usually in a bloody transition to the next. Periods of unification were separated by stretches of splintered states numbering from two to more than twenty. Foreign conquests were not unknown, with the Mongol Yuan (1271–1368) and Manchurian Qing (1644–1912) Dynasties being the most important.
China – The Next War: China has been expanding its reach economically, politically, and militarily. The US remains its chief adversary on every level, but what strategies will be most effective in containing the burgeoning superpower? China’s long history gives it a wealth of political-military principles to direct its likely moves; the failure to understand them could doom its opposition. This is an examination of the potential for war, and of its disparate battlefields in the air, on land, at and under the sea, in space, and in the digital world.