The Chinese army — a cardboard dragon? (The Wall Street Journal, USA)

The Chinese army - Paper Dragon?  ("The Wall Street Journal", USA)In China's armed forces have their own helplessness. But they are quite keen to dominate in Asia — in part because of America

Perhaps China's boastful statements about the power of its armed forces soon will be tested: on the background of many months of confrontation with the Philippines built up tensions with Vietnam in connection with the disputed territories in the South China Sea. On how the Chinese are convinced favorites in force of its own army, it depends on how aggressively they will put forward territorial claims. In addition, it will show whether Beijing is trying to bluff to force America to stay away from the controversy that engulfed Asia.

The question is whether the People's Liberation Army of China cardboard dragon and honest answer would be diversified. At the theoretical level, the growth of the PLA since the 1990s is striking. Armed forces China, once put emphasis on ground forces (which have used technology of the 1950s) and has very limited modern air and sea capabilities, the power went out on his own in the second place in the world.

Most impressive is that they can now act on bolshennom distance from the mainland. Their navy is capable of producing long-term counter-piracy operations off the coast of Africa, and the various departments of the Sea are constantly patrolling the South China and East China Seas. China apparently seeks to possess an ocean fleet, as evidenced by the development of the submarine fleet of 70 ships and launch this year of its first aircraft carrier.

Modernized and air force, armed with fighters coming fourth generation. In addition, they are uniformly increase the complexity of their own operations, are increasingly working NIGHT MODE and participating in joint exercises with the land forces and navy. In the main, they remain self-defense forces, but are able to reach most of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Further, there are missile forces, all kinds of them — namely, intercontinental ballistic missiles — strengthened since the 1990s. A lot of attention is paid to the successes China in the development of anti-ship ballistic missile DF-21, capable of striking South American carriers.

The problem is that these numbers — the only part of the picture. The quality of the armed forces China raises more questions than their quantity or presumed present.

It is here that there is uncertainty in the Chinese power. On battle preparation of the Chinese armed forces are inferior to the West. The pilots have very few flight hours, and a large submarine fleet occasionally departs too far from their own coastal bastions. In addition, in China not a lot, and Prof. NCO corps is the backbone of today's armed forces.

In practice, military systems and protocols Beijing are weak or are unknown. For example, the Western military officers who had access to the Chinese warships, they say that there is no simple systems on board the struggle for survival, and therefore some believe that these ships will not survive in the criteria of the conflict.

Meanwhile, we do not know how well equipped with Chinese weapons caches. It is possible that the PLA would be possible without the ammunition of early enough stage of confrontation. We have no certainty as to the Chinese system of command and control. In the end, there is evidence that on their own morale PLA resembles Russian armed forces of the Union, where the doctrinal firmness deprived commanders of combat units of all sense of initiative. Shortage of flexibility and innovation can be the place of a weak Chinese armor.

By focusing on these data, insinuatory China shall be removed to believe in his military power. Maybe they are right, pointing to these helpless, but miss the point. PLA is unlikely soon (if ever) will be the equivalent of the U.S. armed forces, build-up of Beijing is intended not only to challenge the South American domination.

Beijing has other political goals, first regional hegemony, and they may have achieved. In China armed forces are larger and stronger than at least some other Asian countries, including the land of the rising sun. And the risk of local conflict is tied to how confident he is in the chances of its own armed forces. Last week, Beijing announced that it begins to "combat patrols" in the disputed Paracel Islands, and Spretli in response to Vietnamese air patrols.

Washington breaks heads over how to contain China's regional ambitions, but faces its neuvvyazkami. The very preservation of decent South American Military presence in Asia is a growing challenge. Yes, the U.S. has the potential to expand presence in Asia, but at the present time it is not supported by the military strategy.

Judging by the rhetoric of Washington, he remained active in the Asia-Pacific region, but his deeds they say otherwise. Most of the problem lies in the fact that the Pentagon budget is declining dramatically. Worse, his strategists shall be removed to take into account the presence of China missiles that could destroy the South American forward bases. In addition, they have not developed appropriate protection measures from the Chinese electric tools of war have not solved the question of whether the United States seven fighter squadrons stationed on advanced bases in Asia, the appropriate response to the build-up of military space capabilities in China.

If the U.S. will lose the ability to act decisively in time and at great distances, China can block access to South American forces in the conflict zone and deprive them of their freedom of action in it. This will allow Beijing to reach an even easier way to achieve regional hegemony. Cardboard dragon can still get the better of flightless falcon.

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