China is causing real problems for the United States and the rest of the free world from both a national security and an economic standpoint.
There were the five Chinese Navy ships currently operating in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska.
Then there were the long-distance bombers and various missiles that were showcased in a huge military parade in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square last week.
The world is a much more dangerous place than it was immediately after 9/11. As radical Islam grows, the international picture is further complicated by the ever-growing Chinese threat from both a national security and an economic standpoint.
Not to mention the continued devaluation of the Chinese yuan over the last few weeks sending shockwaves on worldwide economic markets.
And the continued cyberattacks on U.S. government and industry infrastructure, including the compromising of the personal data of at least four million current and former federal employees and stealing social security numbers from more than 21 million Americans.
Make no mistake, China is causing real problems for the United States and the rest of the free world from both a national security and an economic standpoint.
It’s important to understand some of the underlying factors contributing to the current situation in China. Chief among these are the serious demographic challenges that China faces. In fact, China’s demographic challenges, while similar to those of the developed world, are on a much larger scale and are far more severe.
In short, during the 1970s, the average number of children born to a Chinese woman was 5.8. Due to the Communist Party’s “one child per family policy,” that figure is down to 1.8 – far below the rate of 2.1 that is normally needed to sustain a population.
Couple this with the fact that the Chinese, like the rest of the world, are living much longer.
In China, life expectancy has shot up from 35 in 1949 to over 73 today. Thus, as China’s working-age population has shrunk, labor costs have risen, thus eroding one of China’s main advantages and playing a big role in their decision to devalue the yuan.
In 2012, China had 180 million citizens over the age of 60. It is estimated now that by the middle of this century, that number could approach 500 million people.
You get the picture. Short of the Chinese instituting a one-grandparent policy, the financial stress on their budgets is causing severe problems at home, which, unfortunately, will only escalate in the coming years.
Economically speaking, China cannot continue what they’re currently spending on their military, while at the same time taking care of their aging and ever-growing elderly population. China also has a big problem on domestic security issues and, in spite of their massive defense budget, is actually spending more on domestic security than on any external threats.
A powerful weapon for freedom is the fact that China has 500 million Internet users and more than 100 million bloggers. Because of the ever-mounting demographic challenges, and continued financial stress on Chinese budgets, there is a real opportunity for the U.S. and our Asian allies to come up with a plan to press the Chinese to address their military budget, as well as to prevent any unnecessary incidents from spiraling out of control in the South China Sea.
Now, let’s look at the ever-growing cyber threat from China. Simply put, in addition to constant cyberattacks on U.S. government infrastructure, real economic harm is being inflicted on the American economy when American companies who annually spend millions, and sometimes billions of dollars on research and development, are having the Chinese steal the resulting technology.
It has been estimated that 90 percent of Chinese espionage is committed by two groups – the Beijing-based Elderwood Group and the Shanghai-based Comment Crew. Comment Crew can be traced to Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), while the Elderwood Group is also believed to have significant ties to the Chinese military.
Of course, the Chinese Government denies any connection with these groups and Chinese Foreign Ministry officials have said that the country is firmly opposed to hacking. I say it’s time for real American leadership and to call China’s bluff. It’s time for America to go on the world stage and say to China, “We’re glad that you have nothing to do with these two groups. And, oh, by the way, since you have nothing to do with these groups, please join with us in declaring both of these groups as cyber terrorist organizations.”
The Chinese will be on the spot and will want to downplay their ties with these organizations, along with the 20 other identified cyber espionage groups currently operating in China, just as they have in the past.
This can work to our advantage. Instead of declaring a cyberwar on China, or the Chinese military, we would be declaring a war officially on these two groups. By declaring these organizations to be cyber terrorist groups, the US Military will then have the broad discretionary powers to go after them from a cyber perspective.
Today, the world is a much more dangerous place than it was immediately after 9/11. As radical Islam grows, the international picture is further complicated by the ever-growing Chinese threat from both a national security and an economic standpoint.
These are challenging times, and whoever America elects to be its new commander in chief in 2016 will be facing the most complex national security and foreign policy situation a U.S. president has ever faced.
There was a time, in a different era, when America had a president who understood China. He understood its history and its people. He also knew how to drive a wedge between China and the “Russian bear” and play one off against the other. While exposing China to the Western world, he was always one step ahead of the Chinese and the Russians and knew how to play this international chess game. His name was Richard Nixon, and come January of 2017, America’s new commander in chief would do well to grasp how he dealt with and understood China.
Van D. Hipp, Jr. is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army. He is the author of the newly released book, "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." All of the author's proceeds go to the National Guard Educational Foundation to fund scholarships for children of fallen Guardsmen. www.thenewterrorism.com Follow him on Twitter @VanHipp.