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  • Commentary posted April 25, 2016 by Dean Cheng Never Say Never: China's Rise Is About the Art of the Possible

    Will China dominate the Pacific? Impossible. Or so we are told by M.L. Cavanaugh, a U.S. Army strategist and War on the Rocks contributor. In a unique article that uses Netflix shows such as “Daredevil” and “Sense8” to explain how we should view the rise of China, Cavanaugh tell us, “Even if China carves out some additional room for maneuver, it will never dominate the…

  • Backgrounder posted March 28, 2016 by Justin T. Johnson, Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D., James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Dean Cheng, Luke Coffey, Lisa Curtis, Michaela Dodge, David Inserra, Bruce Klingner, Walter Lohman, James Phillips, Ana Quintana, Bryan Riley, Brian Slattery, Charles "Cully" Stimson, Dakota Wood, Rachel Zissimos The 2017 NDAA Should Begin Rebuilding America’s Military

    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an annual bill that sets policies and budgets for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). This bill and the defense appropriations bill are Congress’s two annual major pieces of defense legislation. With the release of the Obama Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request, Congress has begun working on the NDAA.…

  • Commentary posted March 10, 2016 by Dean Cheng Taking China's Carrier Operations Seriously

    This past week, Sino-Vietnamese tensions rose as China moved a deep-sea drilling rig into disputed areas and began earnest exploration for oil. Coming in the wake of President Obama’s visit to Asia, this suggests that Chinese assertiveness has not been deterred by the American pivot, but, rather, has accelerated. Of particular note to the Chinese may have been President…

  • Commentary posted March 10, 2016 by Dean Cheng The Danger of Historical Analogies: The South China Sea and the Maginot Line

    Does China’s island building in the South China Sea resemble the Maginot Line? This is not a quirky and unimportant debate, but rather one that has profound strategic implications. A recent War on the Rocks article advances this argument. The authors, Robbie Gramer and Rachel Rizzo, write:     "The Maginot Line became a ubiquitous symbol of failure in defense planning;…

  • Commentary posted March 10, 2016 by Dean Cheng Admiral Xiao's Influence and Beyond

    Admiral Xiao Jinguang was the first commander of the PRC’s navy. He was in charge of the Navy from 1950 to 1980–a period even longer than Sergei Gorshkov (1956-1985). Xiao survived various purges, the machinations of Lin Biao (before Lin himself fell from power), and the Cultural Revolution. At one point, he was attacked, and Mao himself defended him, declaring that, so…

  • Commentary posted March 10, 2016 by Dean Cheng The People's Liberation Army on Wargaming

    China has a long history of engaging in wargaming and exercises as part of military planning. The Chinese biography of Sun-Tzu (545-470 BC) recounts the tale of Sun-Tzu employing the emperor’s consorts as troops to demonstrate military activities and maneuvers. In the Warring States period (475-221 BC), the philosopher Mozi is said to have dissuaded the state of Chu from…

  • Commentary posted March 10, 2016 by Dean Cheng China's "Blue Soil"

    Recent Chinese documents and statements on maritime issues reflects this growing interest and focus on naval power. It should also raise concerns . In the 2010 China’s Ocean Development Report from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), the Chinese made their first official statement that they were building and developing a carrier fleet. That’s the part that got most…

  • Commentary posted March 10, 2016 by Dean Cheng China: Ready to Assume a Leadership Role?

    A recent Pew Survey on global attitudes shows that most people around the world believe that China will eclipse, or already has eclipsed, the United States as the dominant superpower. This is hardly surprising, given several decades of seemingly untrammeled growth that has allowed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to become the nation with the world’s second largest…

  • Commentary posted March 10, 2016 by Dean Cheng The Hong Kong Countdown

    As thousands of protestors flood downtown Hong Kong in opposition to Beijing’s efforts to control the political future of one of its two “Special Administrative Regions,” there is growing concern about how this situation will be resolved. From the perspective of the demonstrators in Hong Kong, the issue is straightforward. They wish to be able to exercise their own choice…

  • Lecture posted January 21, 2016 by Dean Cheng Prospects for Extended Deterrence in Space and Cyber: The Case of the PRC

    While there has been discussion about whether today’s security environment constitutes a “neo-Cold War,” the reality is that it is actually more complex than the Cold War. For most of the period between 1947 and 1992, the situation was largely marked by a bipolar balance, where the two major players created somewhat symmetrical blocs of allies, friends, and client states.…

  • Commentary posted January 5, 2016 by Dean Cheng China's Bomber Flight into the Central Pacific: Wake-Up Call for the United States

    Late last month, Chinese H-6K bombers staged one of their longer missions in recent memory. Flying through the Miyako Straits northeast of Taiwan, the bombers proceeded into the central Pacific, to a point 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the Ryukyu island chain (stretching from the Japanese Home Islands past Okinawa towards Taiwan). As important, they reached a point…

  • Backgrounder posted December 17, 2015 by Dean Cheng China’s Pivot to the Sea: The Modernizing PLA Navy

    Since at least 2004, Chinese security thinking has undergone a steady shift toward emphasizing the maritime domain. As its economy has grown, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become increasingly dependent on the world’s oceans to sustain its economy and people and to move its products to market. Indeed, to maintain and improve what it considers its “comprehensive…

  • Special Report posted December 9, 2015 by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D., Dean Cheng, Luke Coffey, Lisa Curtis, Helle C. Dale, Michaela Dodge, David Inserra, Bruce Klingner, Daniel Kochis, Ryan Olson, James Phillips, Ana Quintana, Bryan Riley, Brian Slattery, William T. Wilson, Ph.D. U.S. Comprehensive Strategy Toward Russia

    Introduction Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has not had a coherent, comprehensive strategy toward Russia. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrates, the U.S. has paid a price for this failure and, of course, many of Russia’s neighbors have paid far higher prices. At the core of the U.S. failure has been an unwillingness to assess the nature of the Russian…

  • Commentary posted November 5, 2015 by Dean Cheng How China Views the South China Sea: As Sovereign Territory

    With the decision to conduct a Freedom of Navigation operation (FONOP) in the waters around China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea, U.S.-Chinese relations appear set to deteriorate in the coming year. Given the likely rise in tensions, especially if the United States conducts additional FONOPS, it is essential that U.S. leaders understand the Chinese…

  • Backgrounder posted October 9, 2015 by Nicolas Loris, Luke Coffey, Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D., James Phillips, Dean Cheng, Ana Quintana, Lisa Curtis, William T. Wilson, Ph.D. The Economic and Geopolitical Benefits of Free Trade in Energy Resources

    Given its abundance of natural resources and the recent growth in domestic energy production, the United States is in a position to export far more energy than American trade laws currently allow. Free trade is imperative to a free society, as it fosters economic growth and improves human well-being. Policymakers should treat energy like any other good or service that is…