Podcast — No One Wins if China and America Go to War
Beijing wants regional control not global dominance
by MATTHEW GAULT
Every week, War Is Boring and Reuters sit down to discuss the stories behind the front lines. It’s War College and this week we’re talking to David Axe about China’s military might — in a relative sense.
The United States has the world’s most powerful global military and its ability to project force across the world is unmatched. But different regions tell different stories and the U.S. military is not dominant in every region of the world. After a decade of double digit growth in military spending, China is now the dominant power in the Western Pacific.
That scares a lot of people, but while China may be in control close to home, it’s far from ready to face off against other superpowers on the global stage. The Western Pacific is one of the most important economic centers in the world, and Beijing has taken pains to exert a dominant share of influence over it.
But it doesn’t appear that China is spending money to become a global military challenger. In a lot of ways, the People’s Liberation Army is a paper tiger — all flash and no substance. This is a fighting force that only recently stopped forcing its infantry to perform in elaborate, pointless kung fu displays for visiting dignitaries.
Beijing also lacks the critical logistical infrastructure to support a global military force. It’s blowing a lot of cash on fighters and tanks and little on supply ships and refueling planes. Despite these facts, many pundits see China as an existential threat to America. But a shooting war between the two superpowers would be bloody … and stupid.