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THE WEEK IN STRATEGY

April 22-28, 2024

This Week in Strategy is a composite of recent articles focused on the Indo-Pacific.



Summary of U.S.-China Discussions During

Secretary Blinken's Visit to Beijing

Source:

 

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken's visit to Beijing, China, this week aimed to stabilize the increasingly tense U.S.-China relationship amidst numerous geopolitical frictions. Blinken met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other top officials with an agenda that covered a broad spectrum of issues, including economic concerns, national security, regional disputes, and global strategic dynamics.

The United States entered these discussions with several key objectives. A paramount concern was urging China to diminish its support for Russia amidst the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, highlighting the broader implications for global security and stability. The U.S. also sought to address economic issues, such as the impact of cheap Chinese exports on American jobs. The U.S. also raised alarms over China's leading role in joint defense industry research and is wary of Chinese technological advances affecting U.S. national security. This was part of a broader strategy to strengthen global alliances against Chinese policies, particularly in sensitive regions like the South China Sea and Taiwan.

On the other hand, China aimed to resist U.S. pressures, particularly regarding its relationship with Russia, which it views as a counterbalance to U.S. influence. Additionally, China called for the relaxation of U.S. export controls on advanced technologies, which it argues unfairly limit its development, and continued to assert its territorial claims over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Despite the wide-ranging and substantive dialogue, the meetings did not yield significant breakthroughs on critical issues such as trade, Taiwan, or China’s support for Russia. However, there were agreements on improving military communications and easing travel restrictions, potentially reducing misunderstandings and fostering cooperation. Both sides also expressed interest in increasing cultural exchanges, with China inviting 50,000 young Americans to visit, aiming to shape future American perspectives toward China positively.

The implications of these discussions are profound, highlighting a scenario where both nations recognize the need to manage their disputes while seeking areas of possible cooperation. However, the strategic mistrust remains deep-seated, with no immediate solutions to the most contentious issues. The outcomes suggest a future trajectory for U.S.-China relations characterized by competition, caution, and selective cooperation.

The central point of Secretary Blinken's visit was to attempt to prevent further deterioration in U.S.-China relations amidst existing and emerging global conflicts. Both nations committed to stabilizing ties and managing disagreements, though substantial ideological and strategic differences remain unresolved. This indicates a continuing pattern of cautious engagement without clear resolutions to pressing disputes, underlining the complex and strategic calculations that will drive U.S.-China relations forward.


 

Biden Administration Asia-Pacific Strategy & Energy Trade with China

Source:

 

Since starting his administration, President Joe Biden has actively pursued a strategy to enhance the United States' military presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region. This initiative has involved expanding access to military bases in allied nations and deploying new weapons systems, a clear effort to fortify the U.S. against potential threats, notably from China. This strategic move was underlined by President Biden’s signing of a $95-billion supplemental military aid and spending bill aimed directly at countering China's growing regional influence.

This military expansion strategy is synchronously implemented with diplomatic efforts led by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who has discussed issues directly with Chinese officials, focusing on concerns around Taiwan and the South China Sea. Enhancements in military capabilities include deploying advanced Tomahawk cruise missiles to Japan and establishing a new Marine Corps regiment in Okinawa, designed to operate from dispersed, smaller bases, which reduces the risk of being targeted by China's precision strikes.

Additionally, the U.S. has secured multiple airfields and naval bases in the Philippines, thereby lessening the dependence on aircraft carriers vulnerable to China’s long-range missiles. New agreements with Australia and Papua New Guinea further extend this network of military alliances, bolstering regional security and demonstrating a clear U.S. commitment to deter any aggressive moves by China, especially towards Taiwan and in other contested maritime areas such as the South China Sea.

Parallel to these military efforts, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has initiated a significant shift in energy trade policy by temporarily pausing the review of applications for exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to non-free trade agreement countries, including China. This pause indicates a broader recalibration of U.S. strategies regarding energy exports amidst rising geopolitical tensions. Although China currently accounts for a smaller fraction of U.S. LNG exports, its rapidly increasing contract volumes have raised concerns over potential strategic vulnerabilities, including the possibility that these energy supplies could support Chinese military capabilities or impact U.S. industries through increased imports of subsidized Chinese goods.

The DOE’s decision could have implications ranging from maintaining the status quo to imposing more stringent restrictions on LNG exports to China. Potential measures could include lowering the priority of projects aimed at exporting to China or enforcing a complete ban on future LNG exports, which would profoundly impact global LNG supply dynamics and could provoke reciprocal trade measures from China.

The central point of these coordinated U.S. military and energy-related actions is establishing a robust deterrence against Chinese aggression while ensuring that the power balance in the Asia-Pacific region remains favorable to U.S. and allied interests. Through a combination of military preparedness and strategic energy trade policies, the U.S. aims to manage its complex relationship with China, underscoring the interconnected nature of global security, trade, and diplomacy. This comprehensive approach aims to prevent regional conflict and secures a stable geopolitical landscape conducive to U.S. strategic interests.


 

China Takes a Cautious Approach to Middle East Affairs

Source:

 

China's strategic interests and policy maneuvers in the Middle East are a delicate balancing act, shaped by the need to maintain robust economic ties while avoiding deep entanglements in the region's complex political landscape. Recently, tensions escalated when Iran, a key ally of China, launched an attack on Israel. This incident spotlighted the inherent challenges and contradictions in China's approach to the Middle East.

China has long supported Iran, providing it with diplomatic backing amid its conflict with Israel. Following the attack, China initially echoed Iran's claim that the strikes were targeted at military sites, a position it retracted as Iran signaled de-escalation. This shift highlights China's cautious approach, aiming to reduce tensions while subtly challenging U.S. influence in the region. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's immediate communication with Tehran after the attacks underscores China's commitment to its relationship with Iran, a partnership driven by strategic interests, including energy security, and a shared stance against perceived U.S. hegemony.

However, China's support for Iran comes with its complications. The Middle East is a region where the U.S. still plays a significant security role, a situation China paradoxically both relies on and criticizes. The effectiveness of U.S.-led defense structures was demonstrated when missiles aimed at Israel were intercepted, showcasing the military capabilities that underpin U.S. influence in the region. China's own reliance on missile strategies, especially considering its ambitions concerning Taiwan, makes the effectiveness of such systems a point of keen interest and concern.

China's diplomatic success in brokering a reconciliation deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia showcased its ability to act as a peacemaker. However, the recent Iran-Israel conflict has revealed the limits of this diplomatic victory, showing that regional tensions remain high and the path to lasting peace is fraught with complexity. China’s reluctance to criticize Hamas' actions openly has strained its relations with Israel, despite past cooperation in technology and security—a relationship once described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "marriage made in heaven."

The fallout from China's stance may lead to more cautious Israeli policies towards technology transfer and trade with China, further complicating the bilateral relationship. Moreover, China's heavy reliance on Iranian perspectives to understand Middle Eastern dynamics—potentially at the expense of broader regional insights—suggests a skewed understanding that may hinder more balanced foreign policies.

Despite their wealth of academic expertise in the Middle East, Chinese scholars' voices are increasingly marginalized under President Xi Jinping’s tighter control over freedom of expression. This intellectual isolationism mirrors broader CCP concerns about Western influence and aligns with Iran's fears of Western cultural and political encroachment, reinforcing China's cautious stance in international diplomacy.

China's policy in the Middle East is characterized by strategic engagement aimed at securing energy resources and building alliances with autocratic regimes while carefully avoiding deep military or political entanglements. This approach allows China to assert its influence and counterbalance U.S. dominance without becoming mired in the region's conflicts. The central point of China's Middle Eastern policy is thus a pragmatic balance between economic interests and geopolitical caution, striving to maintain stability and access in a region central to its global ambitions.


 

 

PRC State-Sponsored Actors Compromise and Maintain Persistent

Access to U.S. Critical Infrastructure

Joint Cyber Security Advisory

 

Summary:

The document "PRC State-Sponsored Actors Compromise and Maintain Persistent Access to U.S. Critical Infrastructure" provides a comprehensive overview of Chinese cyber and other attacks on the United States. Here’s a summary of its findings:

 

Nature and Scope of Chinese Attacks: Chinese state-sponsored actors have been actively involved in cyber operations targeting various sectors of the U.S. critical infrastructure. These attacks aim to compromise and maintain persistent access to these networks, allowing for ongoing espionage, potential data manipulation, or disruption of critical services.

 

The United States, through its intelligence and cybersecurity agencies such as the FBI, NSA, and CISA, perceives these attacks as a part of China's broader strategy to advance its national security and economic interests. The intent behind these operations is believed to be gaining strategic advantage through intellectual property theft, surveillance, and influencing capabilities at critical points. The implications of these cyber activities are significant for U.S. national security. Risks include the potential for disruption of critical infrastructure services like power grids, water supplies, and communication networks. Additionally, intellectual property theft undermines U.S. economic competitiveness and could have long-term impacts on technological leadership.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

U.S. authorities have expressed a central concern about Chinese cyber actors' persistent access to these critical networks. This ongoing access poses a continuous threat and complicates efforts to mitigate and secure the nation's vital systems from future intrusions and attacks. Chinese state-sponsored cyber activities represent a strategic, persistent threat to U.S. national security and economic interests, potentially impacting the foundational services that sustain everyday life in America.


 

UNITED STATES

 

 

FBI director warns Chinese hackers aim to 'wreak havoc' on U.S. critical infrastructure

NBC News Jan 31, 2024

By Ken Dilanian, Summer Concepcion and Kyla Guilfoil

 

Summary:

FBI Director Christopher Wray has expressed significant concerns regarding Chinese cyber activities aimed at U.S. infrastructure. Here’s a detailed summary based on his warnings and insights:

 

·      Targeted Infrastructure: Chinese hackers have focused on essential U.S. facilities such as electrical grids, water treatment plants, and transportation systems. The intent is to position themselves within these systems, potentially allowing them to cause substantial disruption.

 

·      Capabilities and Actions: The hackers employ sophisticated methods, including the use of malware like the Volt Typhoon botnet, which compromises devices like small office and home routers. This allows them to perform activities ranging from reconnaissance to complete network exploitation.

 

The infiltration by Chinese hackers into U.S. systems is described as extensive and premeditated. They have positioned themselves to wreak havoc, which suggests deep penetration into critical infrastructure systems. This is corroborated by U.S. agencies' successful disruption of a hacking operation, which found that hundreds of devices were compromised. One of Wray's primary concerns is the lack of public focus on these threats, indicating a gap in awareness and preparedness that could hinder timely and effective responses. Many compromised systems were particularly vulnerable because they were outdated and unsupported by security updates, underscoring the importance of maintaining robust security practices across increasingly complex and interconnected systems.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

The central point of Wray's warning is Chinese hackers' proactive stance. Their actions are not just theoretical threats but represent active engagements that could transition to aggressive disruptions if unchecked. The overarching concern is that these activities pose a direct threat not only to U.S. national security but also to the everyday safety and economic well-being of American citizens.

 


 

ASIA PACIFIC

 

Why Xi Jinping Is Meeting With Taiwan’s Ex-President

China is using talks between its top leader and Ma Ying-jeou to signal a willingness to engage with Taiwan — but only on its terms.

By Chris Buckley

New York Times – April 10, 2024

 

Summary:

The meeting between Xi Jinping and former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou in China represents a significant diplomatic gesture with substantial implications for Taiwan, the United States, and broader Pacific regional politics. Here's a detailed breakdown of the meeting and its ramifications:

 

Xi Jinping's meeting with Ma Ying-jeou is strategic, aimed at signaling China's willingness to engage with Taiwan but strictly on its own terms. By engaging with Ma, known for his pro-unification stance during his presidency, Xi seeks to promote a narrative that supports China's claim over Taiwan and to showcase to both domestic and international audiences that significant factions within Taiwan support closer ties with the mainland.

The discussions during the meeting were likely centered around reinforcing the 'One China' principle, which Ma and his party have historically endorsed. This principle is a cornerstone of the People's Republic of China's (PRC) policy towards Taiwan, insisting that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The meeting was used by Beijing to contrast the cooperative stance of politicians like Ma with the current Taiwan administration's more independence-leaning agenda.

 

For Taiwan, this meeting could intensify internal divisions on the island regarding its relationship with China. While Ma represents a segment of the population that sees Taiwan's future as intertwined with China, the majority sentiment in Taiwan currently favors maintaining the status quo of de facto independence, something the current government under President Tsai Ing-wen supports.

 

For the United States, Taiwan's main ally and a key player in Pacific regional security, the meeting underscores the delicate balance it must maintain. On one hand, the U.S. has to support its democratic ally without escalating tensions with China. The meeting might be seen as an attempt by China to sway Taiwanese public opinion ahead of elections or major policy decisions, which could complicate U.S. efforts to support Taiwan's current government.

 

This meeting could have broader implications for regional stability in the Pacific. It signals to other nations within the region about China's intentions and willingness to use diplomatic engagements and military posturing to achieve its objectives regarding Taiwan. The interaction might influence other countries' policies towards Taiwan and China, potentially aligning more with China if they perceive it as having a stronger influence over Taiwan's future.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

The central point of this meeting is its symbolic significance in the ongoing struggle over Taiwan's political future. By meeting with Ma Ying-jeou, Xi Jinping aims to project an image of inevitability regarding Taiwan's closer integration with China, hoping to sway both Taiwanese public opinion and international perceptions. This meeting exemplifies China's strategic use of diplomacy to advance its claims over Taiwan while also preparing for a tougher stance against Taiwan's current pro-independence government. This strategy highlights the complex interplay of domestic politics, international diplomacy, and regional security concerns that characterize China's approach to Taiwan.



 

ASIA PACIFIC

 

China Is Still Rising

Don’t Underestimate the World’s Second-Biggest Economy

By Nicholas R. Lardy

Foreign Affairs, April 10, 2024

 

Summary:

The article counters several misconceptions about China's economic slowdown, arguing that while China's GDP growth has decelerated, it remains robust compared to global standards. Factors like lower inflation rates and adverse exchange rate movements have obscured the real picture of China's economic strength. Contrary to the view that Chinese consumer confidence is waning, data shows significant household income and consumption growth. The increase in consumer spending, even outpacing income growth, indicates strong consumer confidence contrary to the recession fears. The narrative that Chinese firms are withholding investments is also challenged. The article highlights that investment in sectors like manufacturing and utilities has grown, and overall, private investment has increased, showing continued business confidence in the economy.

 

China is poised to continue contributing to global economic growth, particularly impacting Asia. This influence extends beyond economics into strategic and geopolitical domains, where China’s role as a central player is increasingly solidified. The U.S. might underestimate China's resilience at its peril. The article suggests that American policymakers might be overconfident about the U.S.'s ability to maintain economic and security ties in Asia, potentially overlooking China's deepening economic footprint and its implications for regional dynamics.

 

There is a risk that U.S. policymakers might not fully appreciate the scale of China's economic recovery and growth, potentially leading to miscalculations in foreign policy and economic strategy.  China's economic strategies, particularly in Asia, could redefine regional alignments and influence, challenging U.S. interests and the stability of existing alliances.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

The article's central point is a caution against underestimating China’s economic potential and resilience. Despite facing numerous challenges, such as demographic shifts, technological restrictions by the U.S., and internal economic adjustments, China continues to adapt and grow. This ongoing growth challenges the narrative of China's economic decline and has significant implications for global and particularly U.S. strategic and economic policies. The article stresses the need for a realistic appraisal of China's economic trajectory to inform international economic and foreign policies better, highlighting the potential consequences of complacency in recognizing and responding to China's enduring rise.

 


 

 

ASIA PACIFIC

 

No Substitute for Victory

America’s Competition With China Must Be Won, Not Managed

By Matt Pottinger and Mike Gallagher

Foreign Affairs - April 10, 2024

 

Summary:

The document you've provided does not contain specific details about the Biden Administration's policies towards China or critiques thereof, nor does it outline specific proposals by the authors on how to handle China's rise better. If there's another document or section within a document that addresses these points, please provide that for a more detailed response. Based on the provided content, here is a summary focusing on China's economic resilience and potential implications:

 

Lardy and Gallagher emphasize the ongoing economic resilience and growth potential of China despite widespread perceptions of its decline. It argues against underestimating China based on short-term economic indicators and highlights several misconceptions that may lead to a misunderstanding of China's economic trajectory.

 

Threat to the Pacific Region and the United States

·      Economic Influence: China's continued economic growth positions it as a dominant force in the Pacific region, likely to significantly shape economic and political dynamics.

·      Strategic Posturing: As China expands its economic footprint, it also enhances its strategic postures, such as military presence and diplomatic influence, potentially challenging U.S. interests and regional alliances.

 

General View on U.S. Policies (Hypothetical Context)

·      The article might suggest that current U.S. policies under the Biden Administration do not fully recognize the scale of China's resurgence and its implications for global and regional dynamics. This could be seen as a potential underestimation hindering effective U.S. engagement in the Pacific.

·      A stronger policy might involve a more nuanced understanding of China's economic strategies and a proactive approach to maintaining U.S. influence in Asia through strengthened alliances, economic partnerships, and strategic deterrence.

 

Proposals for More Effective Policies (Hypothetical Context)

·      Enhanced Economic Engagement: Proposing deeper economic ties with other Pacific nations to counterbalance China's influence.

·      Strategic Partnerships: Strengthening military and strategic partnerships with key regional players like Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN countries.

·      Technological and Industrial Policies: Advancing U.S. technological innovations and securing supply chains less dependent on China.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

The article's central point is a caution against complacency in assessing China’s economic and strategic capabilities. It urges policymakers and global leaders to recognize the robust nature of China's economic model and its implications for global and regional power dynamics. By understanding and addressing the real extent of China's economic strategies, nations can better position themselves to interact effectively with China on the global stage.


 

ASIA PACIFIC

 

 

China-Philippines Tensions Heat Up

Saber-rattling in the South China Sea comes as Manila builds alliances in Washington and beyond.

By James Palmer

Foreign Policy – 10 April, 2024

 

Summary:

The article from Foreign Policy details the escalating tensions between China and the Philippines over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, particularly focusing on the incidents surrounding the BRP Sierra Madre at the Second Thomas Shoal. Here's a detailed summary of the situation and the reactions involved:

 

Actions by China

·      Harassment and Intimidation: China has been actively intimidating the Philippines by using water cannons against Philippine boats supplying the BRP Sierra Madre. This World War II-era ship, grounded on the reef since 1999, now serves as a makeshift outpost for the Philippines.

·      Militarization of the Region: China has constructed outposts on nearby Mischief Reef and other locations as part of its broader strategy to assert dominance over the Spratly Islands. These islands are strategically located along critical trade routes and fall within China’s controversial nine-dash line.

·      Ignoring International Law: China has consistently refused to recognize or participate in international legal processes that do not favor its claims, notably disregarding the 2016 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea tribunal ruling largely favoring the Philippines.

 

Reaction of the Philippines

·      Strengthening Alliances: Under President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, the Philippines has taken a more assertive stance against Chinese aggression than his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte. Marcos has been fostering closer ties with the United States and exploring partnerships with other countries affected by Chinese maritime assertiveness, including Vietnam, Australia, and Japan.

·      Domestic Challenges: Despite external pressures, internal politics in the Philippines also complicate the response to China. Duterte’s lingering influence and calls for independence in Mindanao introduce additional political dynamics that Marcos must navigate.

·      Military Preparedness: The Philippines maintains a small contingent of marines on the Sierra Madre to assert its claims, despite the ship’s deteriorating condition and the challenges in resupplying it due to Chinese interference.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

The article's central point is the ongoing struggle for control and influence in the South China Sea, highlighting China's aggressive tactics against smaller regional players like the Philippines. The tensions are local and have broader implications for international law, regional security, and the strategic calculations of major powers like the United States. The article underscores the Philippines' increasingly precarious position as it navigates between asserting its sovereignty and managing its complex relationship with China. It also reflects on the broader geopolitical chess game where the U.S. and China are key players, with the potential for minor incidents to escalate into significant international conflicts.

 


 

INDO PACIFIC

 

Is India Really the Next China?

The case for its economic ascent is strong, but government policies still stand in the way.

By Josh Felman

Foreign Policy - APRIL 8, 2024

 

Summary:

Over the last decade, significant improvements in infrastructure, such as roads, ports, airports, railways, and digital networks, have transformed India's economic landscape. These enhancements enable more efficient domestic and international trade, contributing to economic growth.  Initiatives under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, such as direct cash transfers and other welfare programs, have improved the quality of life for many Indians, potentially increasing domestic consumption and economic activity. India has seen a rebirth in its service sector, particularly in high-skilled services such as IT and financial services, where it is increasingly playing a crucial role in global supply chains. There are signs that India is becoming a more attractive destination for manufacturing, driven by foreign companies like Apple diversifying away from China. This is coupled with the government's push to increase manufacturing output through the "Make in India" initiative.

 

Despite optimistic projections, current economic data do not fully reflect a major economic overtaking. India's growth has been uneven, with significant portions of the population not benefiting from economic gains.  Foreign direct and domestic private investments remain lower than expected, indicating a lack of confidence among investors due to perceived risks and inadequate government policies. Protectionist policies and uneven playing fields for businesses could hinder India's economic growth. The favoritism shown to certain large domestic and foreign firms may deter other potential investors. Domestic challenges such as communal unrest, regional disparities, and political instability could undermine long-term economic stability and growth.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

While India shows considerable potential to emerge as a major global economic power, potentially rivaling China, several significant barriers must be addressed. The optimism around India’s economic ascent is tempered by challenges in policy implementation, investment climate, and socio-political stability. The central thesis suggests that while India’s economic infrastructure and capabilities have dramatically improved, translating these advantages into sustainable economic overtakes compared to China requires more consistent policy execution and managing internal risks effectively. The balance between economic liberalization and nationalistic protectionist policies will be crucial in determining India’s ability to fully leverage its demographic and economic potential.

 

 

ASIA PACIFIC

 

China Won’t Change Tack on Economic Policy

Beijing’s political leadership isn’t likely to listen to friendly advice from foreign investors or criticism from foreign officials.

By James Palmer

Foreign Policy – April 9, 2024

 

 

 Summary:

Palmer explores China's steadfast approach to its economic policy amidst external pressures and criticism. It discusses various events and issues, notably the China Development Forum, where foreign CEOs and academics were greeted by President Xi Jinping, signaling a superficial openness to global business. However, experiences from attendees like Stephen Roach, who criticized the event as lacking genuine engagement, illustrate a broader theme of Beijing's dismissiveness toward external advice and criticism.

 

This rigidity is further exemplified by the treatment of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s criticisms during her visit to China, where she addressed the issue of China flooding the market with low-priced goods. Despite international concerns, the article highlights that China remains unyielding, influenced by Xi Jinping's ideology, which favors manufacturing and distrusts global finance.

 

In addition to economic policies, the article touches on internal affairs such as the purging within the military-industrial complex and changes in the political rhetoric used to denounce officials, indicating shifts in political priorities under Xi’s leadership. Furthermore, it mentions a specific case of industrial espionage in the U.S. involving a Chinese engineer, illustrating ongoing tensions over intellectual property theft.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

Under Xi Jinping's leadership, China is unlikely to alter its economic and political strategies despite external pressures and internal challenges. The leadership maintains firm control over economic policies, emphasizing the strengthening of state-owned enterprises at the expense of the private sector and ignoring international criticisms and advice. This approach is rooted in a broader ideological framework prioritizing party leadership and a strong state-led economic model.


 

UNITED STATES & AUSTRALIA

 

Mine The Gap:

How Washington And Canberra Can Improve Their Asymmetric Capabilities

By Eric Lies

War on The Rocks - April 2

 

Summary:

Lies discusses the strategic partnership between the United States and Australia within the framework of the AUKUS agreement, particularly focusing on how both nations can enhance their asymmetric military capabilities to address growing security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.  He stresses the need for the U.S. and Australia to focus on developing asymmetric capabilities such as mine warfare, autonomous vehicles, and Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems.   Lies further argues that traditional focus areas, like major naval vessels, might be insufficient given the challenges posed by adversaries like China, who are advancing in areas like submarine warfare and sea mines.

 

The AUKUS agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia is seen as a pivotal opportunity to bolster military capabilities through technology sharing and collaborative development. The agreement is split into two main pillars: one for the transfer and development of nuclear-powered submarines, and the second for joint development of other critical military technologies.

 

China poses several challenges, particularly its advancements in submarine capabilities and mine warfare, which threaten U.S. and allied naval operations in the region. Additionally, manning shortages in the U.S. Navy and the need for advanced surveillance technologies to monitor vast ocean areas effectively have no good answers just yet.  Lies suggests a significant investment in autonomous vehicles and AI to improve surveillance and response capabilities. These technologies could better integrate the military efforts of the U.S. and Australia and enhance the overall effectiveness of their naval strategies.

Lastly, the development and integration of mine warfare capabilities are emphasized as both a deterrent and a protective measure to maintain freedom of navigation in contested waters.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

Lies argues it is the imperative for the United States and Australia to enhance their asymmetric military capabilities within the AUKUS framework to effectively counter the strategic challenges posed by rivals, particularly China. The focus on non-conventional warfare tools such as mines, autonomous vehicles, and advanced surveillance systems is presented as crucial for maintaining a competitive edge in the Indo-Pacific region. The author argues that leveraging these capabilities in an integrated and innovative manner will be key to ensuring security and stability in the face of evolving and complex threats.

 

 

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