The Clock is Ticking in China—The Decade of Concern Has Begun.

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Editor’s Note: After examining [USN] Captain Fanell’s warning, below, the author sent the following response to the [US] Naval Institute, but they declined to publish it. The material is self-explanatory.—PG

“The international community largely condemned Beijing’s slaughter of its own citizens at Tiananmen Square”?
Alas, the international community did so based on a lie.

Nobody was harmed in Tiananmen Square.

Chinese soldiers take part in a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender during World War II in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military’s most cutting-edge technology. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
The people who would order such an atrocity were the parents of the kids in the square who were the country’s best and brightest, today’s leaders, from the leading universities who carried the hopes of a new, educated China, an education-mad nation. Try to imagine the White House besieged by Ivy Leaguers demanding reform of the student loan policy (precisely what the kids were demonstrating about in Tiananmen Square!) and President Trump  ordering the Army to open fire on them. Even if you’re not a Trump fan, can you even imagine such a silly scenario?
I didn’t think so.
Journalists like BBC Beijing correspondent James Miles later confessed to having ‘conveyed the wrong impression, and that there was no massacre on Tiananmen Square. Protesters who were still in the square when the army reached it were allowed to leave after negotiations with martial law troops…There was no Tiananmen Square massacre,’ but few editors were interested. Liu Xiaobo, later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, publicly stated that nobody in Tiananmen Square was harmed and he was one of the last to leave (Liu’s sentence was subsequently commuted when the judge learned that he had urged the kids to go home). The Columbia Journalism Review’s report, The Myth of Tiananmen, discredited the massacre story and WikiLeaks released a classified diplomatic cable from Ambassador James Lilley to Washington written July 12, 1989, a month after the events, that settled the matter. And lest we think the Chinese government swept it under the rug, President Bill Clinton debated it with President Jiang Zemin, live, on Chinese national TV for over an hour.
But I digress.
The author’s point is urgent but, as far as his 2020 cutoff date, I fear his warning comes too late. Twenty years too late.
China has Big Mo going for it: momentum. Its economy is 30% bigger than ours and growing four times faster and we’re currently stretched thin and wore out. We need to clean up our act, domestically, if we hope to provide any moral leadership for the world.
Because regardless of what happens in the defense realm, by 2020 China will have exactly zero homeless people on its streets and zero (actually 1.4%) poverty. And universal health insurance and rising longevvity (ours is falling). Oh, did I mentioned that urban Chinese families’ net worth in 2020 will be twice ours (because net worth means net of debt and they don’t have any and we have lots and so do our kids). Speaking of kids, did I mention they provide free college education seven million kids every year?
Chickenhawks, ignoring China’s capacity to destroy every city in America in sixty minutes, speculate about a U.S.-China conflict, anticipating either a replay of the Battle of Jutland–where surface combatants slugged it out–or a repeat of the Battle of the Coral Sea, where carrier aircraft did the fighting
But those notions were obsolete 20 years ago, as defense analyst Michael Thim observed, “In essence, the PLAN, (People’s Liberation Army Navy) had sufficient capabilities in place in 1996 such that sending Carrier Strike Groups into the Taiwan Strait would be suicidal. The situation has only become more challenging for the U.S. Navy in recent years–not because the PLAN has acquired an aircraft carrier of its own–but because China has greatly enhanced and modernized its existing anti-access/area-denial capabilities”.
Today, within 500 miles of her borders, China’s deployed defensive suite is far stronger than any imaginable or credible threat we could sustain–or even mount. And if we want to play silly buggers and goad them into sinking one of our ships (right now, all our ships remain 12 miles from ALL China-developed features because they’re not stupid) then our day in the sun is over.
If China decides on regime change (ours), we’d be forced to choose between nuclear armageddon and humiliation as one of our destroyers gets, um, destroyed. 
In other words, we’re in a lose-lose situation. 
And our economy is approaching the end of Neocon Alley and we’re nearly broke and it’s raining and several of our oldest friends have recently told us to beat it. Literally. Plus insults.
Taiwan is China’s business. Let’s drop it and move on. Hell, why not publicly tell Taiwan what everyone else knows and what our One China Policy has always asserted, “You’re a typical breakaway Chinese province, of which there have been hundreds in the past. Everyone knows the script and everyone knows how it ends. Why fight it? Make nice to China. Like us.”
Better than Armageddon, that’s for damn sure.

I have boldfaced two of Captain Fanell’s critical statements, to which I responded, above:

Now Hear This—The Clock is Ticking in China: The Decade of Concern Has Begun

On 30 July 2017, as part of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Chinese President Xi Jinping reviewed more than 12,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors, rocket, and strategic support troops at the Zhurihe military training base 250 miles northwest of Beijing. While most China “experts” focused on the unprecedented holding of a parade at a remote military base in Inner Mongolia or on the different kinds of military forces on display, this community once again missed the forest for the trees. From my vantage, the most important thing to happen at this event was Chinese President Xi Jinping’s declaration that the “PLA has the confidence and capability to defeat all invading enemies and safeguard China’s national sovereignty, security, and developmental interests” (emphasis mine).

In addition to declaring that the PLA has these capabilities, President Xi’s speech reasserts the notion that the People’s Republic of China has a timeline for the restoration of China to its former glory. For instance, during the same speech, President Xi stated, “China needs to build strong armed forces more than any other time in history as the Chinese nation is closer to the goal of great rejuvenation than ever.”

For too long in our hallowed halls of government, academia, and media we have been told, “Don’t worry. China takes the long view and would rather kick the can down the road than confront a dispute head on.” That belief has been the accepted conventional wisdom for the past 40 years, but the falseness of this view now is becoming incontrovertible.

Understanding this reality is critical for the U.S. military—and the U.S. Navy in particular—when it comes to how and when Taiwan will be attacked from the Chinese mainland. The question no longer is a theoretical, open-ended affair; President Xi’s words in Zhurihe do not stand alone as an empty proclamation. Instead, they are a reminder of the continuity of Chinese leaders’ devotion to the reunification of the motherland, and when it comes to reunification, Taiwan stands at the top of the list of unrestored territories.

One should not forget that in 2013, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reported that China’s leaders had recommitted themselves to “continue the 2020 Plan,” whereby they would be able to “build and deploy a complete operational capability to use force against Taiwan by that year.” By implication, these leaders believe that by 2020, the PLA also will be able to fend off U.S. forces and thus be able to successfully invade Taiwan.

As such, President Xi’s Zhurihe speech can and should be interpreted as certifying that the PLA (all Chinese military forces) has achieved the capability to “safeguard China’s national sovereignty”—two years ahead of schedule.

So, what does this mean strategically?

It means a count-down clock has been started. The PLA has been judged by the paramount leader as being ready to achieve military victory that would allow China to restore all of its claimed sovereign territory. In a larger sense, it also means the Communist Party of China believes it has the military capability to take Taiwan, the Senkaku Islands, and other unresolved land features in the South China Sea by military force.

Beijing certainly would prefer to acquire its perceived outstanding territory without firing a shot, as it did at Scarborough Shoal and with the creation of the seven “New Spratly Islands.” However, following President Xi’s “certification” of the PLA at Zhurihe, there will be increasing pressure within China to use military force as diplomatic, economic, and informational warfare efforts fail to provide a solution. This pressure will culminate in what I term the “Decade of Concern.”

Central to this theory is the belief that China is calculating a timeline for the latest possible moment it could use military force while still being able to conduct a grand ceremony commemorating its national restoration in 2049. (See Figure 1.)

I believe China’s leaders have a template for calculating that date: the time period from Tiananmen Square to the 2008 Olympics.

In 1989, the international community largely condemned Beijing’s slaughter of its own citizens at Tiananmen Square. Yet, just 19 years later, the world’s leaders flocked to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Remember the scene on 8 August 2008 at Bird’s Nest stadium? Tens of thousands of people were in the seats watching one of the most impressive Olympic opening ceremonies in history. At the top of the stadium, in an air-conditioned skybox, were the nine members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo. At the center was President Hu Jintao. And what did President Hu see below him in the seats, in the 95-degree heat and 95 percent humidity?

Why, it was the President of the United States, who went on to describe the event as “spectacular and successful.”

What was the strategic message Beijing took from this event? Likely, that the West has a short attention span regarding issues such as crimes against humanity and the threatened use of military force. In short, it seems certain Beijing believes the West can be counted on to forget even the most horrific of actions after about a 20-year time span.

Given that logic, Chinese leaders likely assess their last opportunity for using military force to physically restore their perceived territory as around 2030. This would allow for two decades of “peace” before Beijing would conduct a grand ceremony to memorialize the “second 100”—the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Which leads back to President Xi’s “certification” at Zhurihe and the start of the “Decade of Concern” two years early. His declaration should be a clarion call to the United States and the rest of the world. The clock is ticking and conflict is on the horizon—unless we take decisive action now.

Captain Fanell served a career in naval intelligence and retired in 2015. His last tour was as director of intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.  

About the Author
Godfree Roberts, born in Australia, holds a UMass doctorate in education. He lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he founded Thailand Retirement Helpers to help expats settle there. Besides economics, Dr Roberts expertise, spans several disciplines, including politics, sociology and technology. 
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GODFREE ROBERTS—Today, within 500 miles of her borders, China’s deployed defensive suite is far stronger than any imaginable or credible threat we could sustain–or even mount. And if we want to play silly buggers and goad them into sinking one of our ships (right now, all our ships remain 12 miles from ALL China-developed features because they’re not stupid) then our day in the sun is over.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 

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