Geography dictates that if China is to expand its military power, the direction at least initially will eastward–into the Pacific. However, any hopes Beijing may have of dominating the Western Pacific will come to naught until it finds a way of coping with U.S. attack submarines lurking in China’s marginal seas. Although China is gradually fielding systems such as ocean reconnaissance satellites capable of seeing U.S. surface warships, it is nowhere near being able to find, fix and defeat America’s Virginia-class attack subs. The subs are too stealthy and too capable to target. But Beijing is certain to try by deploying a layered architecture of sensors on the seabed, on warships, on aircraft and in orbit. Until such efforts begin to show signs of success in finding U.S. subs, China would be ill-advised to launch aggression anywhere along its 9,000-mile coastline–like, for example, against Taiwan. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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