By DEAN CHENG
The Wall Street Journal
SEPTEMBER 28, 2009,
Perhaps the most prominent event marking the 60th anniversary of the
founding of the People's Republic of China will be a massive parade
showcasing the People's Liberation Army's newest technologies. Chinese
and Western reports indicate some 52 weapons will be unveiled, including
intercontinental and medium-range ballistic missiles, unmanned aerial
vehicles, long-range cruise missiles and the domestically produced J-10
In some respects the big guns will be a distraction. The lower-profile
command, control and communications systems, such as airborne
early-warning and control aircraft and satellite-communications devices,
more accurately reflect the comprehensive challenge of China's expanding
military capabilities. These systems might not look that special while
in a parade, but they evince the increasing sophistication of China's
strategic thinking and technology.
China isn't aiming to match the United States weapon-for-weapon.
Instead, China is pursuing an "asymmetric" approach. It is a view of
future warfare, expounded in PLA analyses, that focuses more on enabling
the PLA to gather, transmit and exploit information while denying an
opponent that same ability.
China's knowledge of how to use its newly acquired advanced systems to
counter more efficiently American strengths poses the biggest challenge.
Space systems are crucial to this effort. Not only do they occupy the
"high ground" essential for garnering information superiority, but they
have been a key part of the American way of war.as evidenced in Kuwait,
Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Less noticeable, but arguably even more important and worrisome, is a
coherent doctrine and improved training regimens. PLA training efforts
also include extensive exercising of command-and-control capabilities,
employing forces that cross military region boundaries, and "conducting
training in complex electromagnetic environments," a reference to both
electronic warfare and cyberwarfare.
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