Friday, February 23, 2007

Cheney’s Analysis of China’s Rise

Vice President Cheney said in a speech in Sydney Austrailia February 23rd that, “Last month's anti-satellite test, China's continued fast-paced military buildup are less constructive and are not consistent with China's stated goal of a peaceful rise.'' The location of this speech is not trivial either, as the Chinese have begun demonstrable efforts to strengthen their leadership in bilateral and multilateral ties with their Asian neighbors and in ASEAN.

Pardon me Mr. Vice President, with all due respect, its called deterrence. Deterrence is a key element to maintaining peace, and thereby to a peaceful rise. A state’s capacity to remove an object from within the airspace over its sovereign territory is simply a vertical extension of its national security. A state demonstrating this capacity for the flock of spy satellites perched to keep an eye on that state is simply manifested deterrence.

If the Chinese had dropped 5 JDAM’s into a US Embassy in Europe, or had been conducting spy operations all over the US airspace and coast line, perhaps I could be convinced the Chinese had aggressive rather than defensive motivations. However I can’t help but notice that it is the United States and our dwindling allies that are conducting the warcapades around the world.

Mr. Vice President, I don’t mean to imply that you’re not a reliable source of intelligence data or analysis, but I think I’ll wait until China begins to develop some power projection capabilities that could reach beyond greater China before concluding that China’s rise is anything but peaceful.


atom said...

What can China do with the capability of shootting down a satellite? Let's first see the satellite technology.

The satellite that was shot down was a polar orbiting satellite. Different from geostationary satellite, polar orbiting satellite circles the Earth at the altitude of 530 miles, passing over poles continuously,and is in sun-synchronous orbits, which means it is able to observe any place on Earth and will view every location twice each day with the same general lighting conditions due to the near-constant local solar time. Furthmore, because of its low altitude, it can get better view of the surface than geostationary stellite does. Thus most of spy satellites are at the low altitude orbit.

What does the information above imply? First, it is extremely difficult to hit a refrigerator-sized satellite that is moving at high speed with a huge medium ranged missile from ground. The shooting-down means that the precision of Chinese missiles are advanced. Second, although China shot down its own satellite, whether it was shot down vertically over China's head is unknown. Maybe it was shot down over other's "sky". By the way, no country has sovereignty in outer sapce. Third, if China shot down the satelite when it was passing over China's sky, then China can also have two chances a day to shoot down any other low orbit satellite, including spy satellite, that is passing over.

So, I think the "concern" of Vice President Cheney was reasonable. This was the reaction to Chinese deterrence.

Hans Morgenthau said...

If you consider China obtaining 30-year-old capabilities impressive, then indeed, the removal of this satellite from earth's orbit was impressive. I feel however that what was significant was the resolution to do so. Let's not forget that this orbiting refrigerator was openly transmitting weather data via radio. It was an easy target. We also don’t have any information as to whether this was the first or sixth attempt to fire upon the satellite. You are definitely overestimating the technological significance of this test. The PRC, who is able to put people in space, is certainly equally capable of removing an object from its orbit.

Nonetheless, the point of my post was not to address the technological significance of the test, but to question Vice President’s Cheney’s eager interpretation that this and similar PLA measures are “not consistent with China's stated goal of a peaceful rise.” I very strongly believe that, as measures of deterrence and defense, they are not inconsistent with China’s pursuit of peace however do certainly facilitate the underlying security dilemma with the United States and neighboring Asian powers.

You owe me dinner by the way.

Hans Morgenthau said...

So, are you implying that you agree with the Vice President's analysis that China's rise isn't perhaps as peaceful as stated?