Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Book on China's Taiwan Military Dreams

New Taiwan-China book out....

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John Wilson Lewis, Xue Litai. Imagined Enemies: China Prepares for Uncertain War. Palo Alto Stanford University Press, 2006.
Illustrations. 384 pp. $63.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8047-5391-3.

Reviewed by Walter Grunden (Bowling Green State University)
Published on H-Diplo (December, 2009)
Commissioned by Christopher L. Ball

The Coming War with Taiwan

One of the hallmarks of superpower status is the ability of a nation to extend its power and influence over its neighbors and beyond. Such power and influence can be extended both economically and militarily, among other means. Despite the impressive growth of China's national economy over the last several decades, however, its military has not kept pace with rapid reform and modernization. Thus, China has yet to achieve superpower status, at least according to authors John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai. Their argument is compelling. In _Imagined Enemies_, Lewis and Xue argue that China has yet to become a military superpower largely because of lingering bureaucratic impediments, corruption, the continued obsession of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) with obsolete doctrines, and the failure of Deng Xiaoping to make military modernization a foremost objective in the agenda of
national reforms initiated under his leadership. Yet the authors caution that China nonetheless poses a very real military threat to Taiwan, and it has recently geared the modernization of its military forces toward an "imagined" war with Taiwan and her presumed ally, the United States.

Presented as the fourth and final installment in Lewis and Xue's brilliant series on the Chinese military, the book is a meticulous study of the evolution of the military of the People's Republic of China and the challenges that modernization has posed to it in a rapidly changing world. Now internationally recognized as leading experts on China's military, Lewis, the William Haas Professor Emeritus of Chinese Politics at Stanford University, and Xue, a research associate at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford, have a proven track record of explicating such complex and intriguing subjects as this in language that is accessible to nonspecialists. The purpose of this book is to go beyond the studies presented in the first three volumes in the series, which focused on the development of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and nuclear-powered submarines in China, by examining "the underlying decision processes and operations of a Chinese military on the move, the People's Liberation Army in action" (p. 6). The central thesis of the book contends that the priority placed on national modernization and economic growth came at high price for the military in the form of opportunity costs that
"narrowed the scope for military development and planning" even while the changing nature of war and its concomitant risks transformed "Chinese military doctrines, strategies, and preparations" (p. 20).

Read the rest on H-Net.

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9 comments:

Islander said...

The article on the Premier calling TIers "idiots" has this line:

"Taiwan, whose official name is 'Republic of China', saw ties with China hit a low point under DPP rule from 2000 to 2008."

So the author is saying that relations with China was better in the decades before 2000 when the KMT government geared the entire population for war to "reclaim" China?!

Thomas said...

This seems like something I would be interested in reading. I am sure the authors note, however, that China doesn't have to have the best military in the world or even be a military superpower in order to conquer Taiwan. Proximity to Taiwan gives them a huge advantage.

Anonymous said...

Wu states independence is impossible while Ma says "no" to unification. Who are they fooling?

Marc said...

Alan Wachman's book, "Why Taiwan?" provides the scenario for a post-unified or invaded Taiwan by clearly outlining modern China's rationale for possessing the island.

Recommended reading!

Anonymous said...

It's just so disappointing to see Taiwan's entire judiciary focused on Chen Shuibian while real corruption goes around unpunished.

The Blues are so Machiavellian. They constantly bombard the media to raise expectations for the Blues so that when the Greens get any little bit of breathing room, the Blues go into emergency crisis mentality and refuse to budge on anything and the Greens themselves feel great when they get any tiny little win.

Besides the Chen case, this past election, the DPP won a measely 4 seats! Sure, support is at 45%, but there's something deeply, structurally wrong with the proportion of representation for DPP supporters. I agree that it's a relative setback for Ma and the KMT, but now the KMT is in crisis mode. The DPP needs to raise expectations--the status quo should be two parties evenly matched, not "punishing" the DPP by giving it only 1/4 of legislative seats, and then turning around and "punishing" the KMT by giving it "only" 13/17 city/county heads. Even though the Greens are feeling good, the reality is that they are feeling good off of getting very little.

But taking the Premier calling supporters of Taiwanese independence idiots as another example--why do politicians have to be so ultra-sensitive to the feelings and tempers of old KMT soldiers or mainlanders, but it's okay to constantly offend the sensibilities of bensheng Taiwanese? Think about the uproar and the media flogging that would occur if someone in the DPP called supporters of the KMT idiots.

J. Michael said...

Note the publication date is 2006, which in this time and age in the Taiwan strait means that it's already a bit dated. I own a copy. The Eslite bookstore carries it.

Arty said...

Wu states independence is impossible while Ma says "no" to unification. Who are they fooling?

Both are right, it is called maintaining the status quote. They are not fooling anyone, simply point to the facts.

For Taiwan to gain independence, Taiwan has to win a bloody war. If you just look at numbers today, I don't think there is a chance for Taiwan to win without US intervention (and we won't, trust me).

Taiwan currently is an independent body, I don't see why KMT wants to give the power to CCP even with conditions because you never know that CCP will keep its words. Since KMT doesn't want to lose power and CCP is not in a hurry to unite with Taiwan, Taiwan's situation is likely to drag on for awhile. So it is a definite "NO" to unification as for now.

So the author is saying that relations with China was better in the decades before 2000 when the KMT government geared the entire population for war to "reclaim" China?!

Yup, when brothers fighting with each other, at the end of the day, they are still family. You should be glad China promises not to use nuclear weapon on Taiwan. It will take probably 3-5 neutron warhead to finish entire population of Taiwan. I never worry about the 1000+ missiles, I am more worry about what kind of warhead they have, because numbers of missiles are simply used by politicians to fool the public.

Anonymous said...

"You should be glad China promises not to use nuclear weapon on Taiwan. It will take probably 3-5 neutron warhead to finish entire population of Taiwan."

I am so thankful to our great lords for having mercy on us.

P.S. Arty, stop with your bullshit. Your comments always have these assertions that are never backed up and are highly unlikely to be true. It is highly unlikely China's neutron warheads are of such high kiloton range and even if they were, the mountainous terrain of Taiwan calls complete bullshit on your baseless assertion.

Arty said...

P.S. Arty, stop with your bullshit. Your comments always have these assertions that are never backed up and are highly unlikely to be true. It is highly unlikely China's neutron warheads are of such high kiloton range and even if they were, the mountainous terrain of Taiwan calls complete bullshit on your baseless assertion.

Little google won't hurt you. The 1999 disclosure and estimation by the US of China's neutron bomb yield is 1 kiloton which is the optimal kill yield for neutron weapon. You do know the knowledge to build a neuron weapon is known since the 50s. The only limitation for people who know the technology is the raw materials today.

So are you asking all people of Taiwan to hide in mountains? You seem to forget that Taiwan is one of the most densely populated places in the world. It will take a missile less than 10 minutes to hit major Taiwan cities if launch near coast. Okay, 5 neutron warheads may not wipe out every single soul, but all major cities isn't so far fetch.

Also, is it so hard to think up a name? And why do people living on a small island are so ignorant and arrogant. Yup TIers are "idiots" because they completely ignore the cost associate with it (regardless who's at fault and who is the "bad guy").