WHAT WOULD REGIONAL WAR INVOLVING CHINA BE LIKE? THIS IS THE KEY QUESTION FOR AUSTRALIA’S NATIONAL SECURITY IN THE MEDIUM TO LONGER TERM
It is traditional in intelligence circles when assessing foreign countries to look at both intent and capability. We looked at Indonesia in those terms for decades, but I don’t believe that we have looked at our great ally – the US – in those terms in enough detail. Who cares how big and aggressive China gets in our region if the US was powerful enough and willing enough to lead its allies to deter extreme Chinese actions, military or otherwise? But since the end of the Cold War in 1991, effective US military power, admitted by their own National Defence Strategy, has reduced by 30 to 50% with worldwide responsibilities. China’s military power, by comparison, has increased exponentially under an authoritarian regime. The CCP says exactly what it intends to do, at some stage it will consider it has the military power to do it, and it has a very narrow focus on its island chains so it can apply most of its hard power to the one geographical area, whereas the US has worldwide responsibilities.