At the 100th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2021, Chinese President Xi
Jinping outlined his vision for the Chinese Dream. We will achieve the goal of building a great modern socialist
country in all respects and fulfill the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. The fact that China and Xi Jinping talk about a China Dream really reminds us that great powers need to have grand narratives in the same way that the United States and the narrative about
the American Dream. To make that China Dream a reality and achieve the great rejuvenation, Chinese leaders believe they must have the world's most powerful military. A strong country must have a strong military, as only then can it guarantee the security of the nation. The Party came to recognize
the irrefutable truth that it must build a
people's military of its own. China's military power has been growing at an incredible speed over the last 20 years. In terms of fear and influence, we absolutely know that China
wants to be dominant in Asia. So there is a target to get to that point, to be a military that is a peer to the greatest militaries
in the world by 2035.
The competition for
influence is a global one. And through a multi-decade trajectory filled by planning, money, and pragmatism, China's building a military that allows it to shape the 21st century, just as the US shape the 20th. The most interesting question when it comes to China's growth and what spurred the growth is actually, you don't have to look back 50 years, 40 years, 30 years. Actually, most of these
changes have happened in the past 25 years. So if you go 25 years ago, the Chinese economy was
smaller than France's economy. They took up 3% of global GDP. They had a military that you could hardly even call it a military, right? A Navy that couldn't
sail beyond the coast. Until second half of 1990s, the Chinese defense budget was absolutely negligible.
At some point less than $15 billion, 2.5 million troops. But now, China is either
the second or third most powerful military in the world. And it's got there largely as always through spending a lot of money. Thanks to a 740% increase
in military spending as well as elite focus, they've now built one of the
most formidable militaries that this world has ever seen. China's defense expenditures have multiplied by 12 times since 2000. And while America's military budget is nearly four times that of China's, it does not mean that the US' military is four times as powerful.
And that's because of
different objectives. The United States is
trying to project power all around the world. That is extremely costly. The US spends huge amounts of their money on the global war for
terror in the Middle East in the past two decades. And of course, China's lowers the defense construction cost and it has cheaper man power. That budget of the United States, it's used for the United States to act as the global guardian of the Labor International Order. Instead, the smaller budget of China is mostly concentrated in one region. We have hundreds of bases overseas. China has one. So they're really promoting
their military power regionally.
And so that's one way that they can out compete the United States. I have been very, very straightforward and blunt with President Putin. We will impose the most severe sanctions that have ever been imposed, economic sanctions. When the US is distracted elsewhere, whether it's over the Ukraine issue now or the war on terror for
two decades beforehand, the United States cannot
compete with China. Countries like the US, the UK, Australia, European countries
overlook the understanding of China's strategic culture. And we didn't want to accept the fact that while we were trading with China, China was growing militarily. To understand the magnitude of China's determination in
achieving its national goals, look no further than the
Belt and Road Initiative, china's trillion dollar
global infrastructure plan and the centerpiece of
President Xi Jinping's foreign policy.
The Belt and Road Initiative is one of the big Chinese economic plans to build power and influence in the world. The United States could have
done 10 of those, right? But instead we fought
the war in Afghanistan. And while the US and the EU are busy policing the world, China has focused on
building infrastructure. And when it comes to the military, it has had the same laser focus. The Chinese were actually
extremely pragmatic in deciding how to go about matching its military capacities
and increasing them, so that it could challenge US dominance. And they did so basically with weapons that are much cheaper to produce than the things that they destroy. Of course, there are certain narrow areas where Chinese are more advanced. These areas include the
hypersonic missiles. What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system, and it is very concerning. I think I saw in some of the newspapers that they used the term Sputnik moment. What they're really,
the US, is really saying is that these hypersonic missiles could change the game. China is investing in hypersonic missiles principally to show the rest of the world that it's capable of developing cutting edge military technologies.
Because of the name, people focus the hypersonic part and how fast they go, but actually the biggest issue when it comes to defenses is that they can fly very low because of the circular
nature of the Earth. If you have a radar system, you don't see it until
close to the last minute, which makes it difficult to intercept. The broader strategic issue that China is more advanced in this area than the United States is brings up a lot of anxiety about how the United States
technologically is falling behind. They shown this on parade in 2019 and the Americans are only expected to have a first battery of similar missile for testing in 2023. So that's incredibly, that's an incredible lead. And while the US is trailing China in hypersonic technology, China is quickly closing the gap when it comes to Naval Forces.
In 2015, China published a white paper on China's military strategy, where the Chinese elites stated that China needs to move beyond an old fashioned, traditional
mentality-based on land power. The Americans understand that the Chinese are gradually winning the arms race. They're simply building more
ships than the American can. The Americans have been
losing their manufacturing for generations. The best example is ship building. China is the country with the biggest commercial ship building
industry in the world. China basically builds 40%
of the ships in the world. The US and its European
allies build about 1%. It allows the Chinese to produce ships at an extraordinary rate, and to overtake or to
match the US very quickly, if they wish to. Once you get into wartime, those advantages, they really determine the ability of the US to win the first and second
World Wars for the Allies.
Operating day and night on a 24-hour mass production schedule, America giving wings
to the greatest armada of fighting ships the
world has ever known. Many analysts nowadays believe that China is already capable of winning a short-term conflict within the First Island Chain, which is this line that
goes from the south of Japan through Taiwan, down to the Philippines and the South China Sea. In addition to a state of the art Navy as well as their hypersonic missiles, China may also have an edge when it comes to how wars are fought
in the 21st century. One of the most worrying areas of Chinese development
has been cyber warfare. As much as we know, the Chinese have the biggest cyber forces in the world. It's important to understand that the Chinese started
to prioritize cyber warfare and the information warfare in general very early in 1990s. They understood that the
key of American advantage was the information advantage.
And to win, they needed to
destroy this American advantage. They've been able to accelerate their arms development programs by gaining intelligence
on US weapons systems. With cyber, nobody's ever quite sure about what the other side's capability is until it's been used. And once it's been used, it's gone and you have to develop something else because it can be dealt
with once it's known. Cyber immediately takes you on to the question of
artificial intelligence. And Vladimir Putin famously said, whoever wins that competition
will rule the world. And the ideas that once you develop AI, they can either assist or
replace weapon systems.
And this emphasis on cyber warfare and artificial intelligence tell us how extremely relevant continues to be the writing of Sun Tzu, and in particular, "The Art Of War", where concepts like disruption, deception, know your enemy, win without fight, remain important. Ultimately, China's powers wrapped up in how much influence their military and their economy have.