As the U.S. faces sustained efforts to slash the defense budget over the next 10 years, meanwhile it faces a growing strategic challenge. Fueled by economic growth of nearly 10 percent a year, China has been engaged for nearly two decades in a rapid and wide-ranging military buildup. China is secretive about its intentions, and American strategists have had to focus on other concerns since 9/11. Still, the dimensions, direction and likely implications of China’s buildup have become increasingly clear.
What’s the Big Idea?
Aaron L. Friedberg writes that Beijing has sought more cost-effective ways rather than trying to match American power plane for plane and ship for ship. Instead, it has been building large numbers of relatively inexpensive but highly accurate non-nuclear ballistic missiles, as well as sea- and air-launched cruise missiles. “Those preparations do not mean that China wants war with the U.S…they seem intended mostly to overawe its neighbors while dissuading Washington from coming to their aid if there is ever a clash.”