At first glance, it might appear that the U.S. is starting to score some wins in its China policy. Last week, five members of Congress visited Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen in a show of support, the Biden administration convinced the United Arab Emirates to halt construction of a Chinese military port in Abu Dhabi, and the Federal Communications Commission revoked China Telecom America’s Telecom Services Authority.
But on China, the Biden administration misses the forest for the trees. While the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center issued a warning to U.S. businesses recognizing that China seeks to steal U.S. technology, the report did not recommend economic decoupling with China. More disturbingly, recent developments show that the Biden administration is completely ill-equipped to address increased Chinese incursions and capabilities against Taiwan, and China’s recent game-changing improvements in its hypersonic missiles and nuclear weapons.
The Biden administration continues to lack a policy to address China’s grey-zone warfare against Taiwan. On Sunday, China sent 27 planes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. China has been incessantly deploying this tactic since September 2020, with the incursions increasing in frequency and intensity. In response to China’s invasions of Taiwanese airspace (and the growing North Korea threat), Japan has increased its military budget by $6.75 billion. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi stated Japan would “weigh the various possible scenarios that may arise to consider what options we have, as well as the preparations we must make.” Analysts believe that this marks a much more active, vocal role for Japan in defending Taiwan. But Japan lacks support from the United States as the Biden administration has been waffling on developing its own coherent policy towards Taiwan’s defense.
The American defense establishment also appears to have grossly underestimated China’s nuclear weapons potential.
Experts have become increasingly dire about the feasibility of China invading Taiwan, especially starting in 2024. A recent report issued by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated that China currently has the capability to successfully establish an “initial landing force of 25,000 or more troops.” Chen Ming-tong, the director of Taiwan’s national-security bureau, claimed recently that according to his intelligence, China considered attacking Taiwan’s Prata Island, but ultimately decided not to go forward with the idea until at least 2024. But China’s likelihood of success in invading that small island is high. While a small contingent of Taiwanese troops is reported to be stationed there, the island is “almost impossible to defend” given that it is “so small and flat,” according to Yoshiyuki Ogasawara, a professor at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Former national-security adviser Robert O’Brien also predicted that it is unlikely China would attack Taiwan before the Beijing Olympic Games. Army Gen. Mark Milley said earlier this month that China was “clearly and unambiguously” developing a capability to invade Taiwan, while also stating that “I don’t think it is likely in the near future, being defined as six, 12, maybe 24 months, that kind of window.” In March, Adm. Phil Davidson, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, stated that China could invade Taiwan “in the next six years.”
Like China’s policy and actions towards Taiwan, China’s breakthrough hypersonic missile technology seems to have similarly dumbfounded the top brass of the United States defense agencies. The Financial Times recently reported that in a test in July, China fired a missile from space mid-flight at five times the speed of sound, which shocked analysts at the Pentagon. In a recent interview, Space Force General David Thompson conceded that “the Chinese have an incredible hypersonic program,” which is “a very concerning development,” and that the United States had less developed hypersonic weapons than China or Russia. Gen. John Hyten, the outgoing vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that this weapon could give China a surprise nuclear attack strike ability against the United States. While the U.S. has conducted only nine hypersonic tests in the past five years, China has conducted hundreds, according to Hyten. China can now attack from space, and “the United States has no dedicated, active countermeasure” to it, according to The Hill. (READ MORE: China on the Rise: Never Forget the Horror of Chinese Totalitarianism)
China’s breakthrough hypersonic missile technology seems to have similarly dumbfounded the top brass of the United States defense agencies.
The American defense establishment also appears to have grossly underestimated China’s nuclear weapons potential. A Department of Defense report released in November indicates that China seeks to have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, which far overshoots Department of Defense estimates from last year that China has warheads “in the low 200s,” which will double by 2030. The report also states that China may have already developed a “nascent ‘nuclear triad,’” enabling it to deploy nuclear weapons by land, sea, and air. But in the midst of this, Biden has at least at one point considered a “No First Use Policy,” and is now being pressured by progressives to adopt this posture as his administration reviews the U.S.’ nuclear policy. Adopting the “No First Use Policy” would “be akin to having poker players show their cards,” according to John Rossomando of the Center for Security Policy.
As the Biden administration scores incremental wins against China and secures a joint policy to combat climate change with the country, it is fast losing ground to China in bigger picture issues regarding Taiwan and game-changing weapons. A durable, effective policy against the CCP can only come from tackling these larger issues.