“Houston, we have a problem.”
Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell
Dear President Biden,
As the New Year dawns, it’s probably a good time to address some issues that will likely come across your desk in the coming months.
Number one on the list is the Covid-19 crisis and the latest outbreak of Omicron. To say the last two years have been tough on that front would be an understatement. But aside from some red states, the United States has done fairly well in delivering much-needed vaccinations.
But enough about the virus, we all know where that is headed. Sooner or later, it will release its terrible grip on humanity.
No, today I want to talk about your biggest challenge – your counterpart in Asia, President Xi Jinping, and the People’s Republic of China.
The growth of the PRC on all fronts has been staggering. China’s drive for global supremacy in space and technology, including artificial intelligence, has been nothing short of explosive. Then, of course, there is President Xi’s aim to turn the country into a military superpower.
At the same time, China’s ruling Communist Party has openly challenged America’s supremacy and democratic way of life.
For instance, Beijing’s blue water Navy, known as the PLAN, is now the biggest in the world and getting bigger. Soon, it will also have three aircraft carriers, with plans for a fourth.
On top of that, it is launching new warships at a rate that dwarfs every other major shipyard in the world.
When it comes to the military tech front, China stunned the West when it quietly launched a trans-global hypersonic missile test in the summer.
Even more remarkable, the glide body somehow released a simulated warhead, which dropped harmlessly into the ocean. Previously, researchers had said this was scientifically impossible.
Meanwhile, America, once the most advanced military power in the world, recorded yet another failure of its hypersonic missile program.
According to Joseph Trevithick at The Drive, the US Air Force has failed for a third time to conduct a successful test of the rocket booster on a prototype AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile or ARRW.
The Air Force still doesn’t know why the prototype missile never left the wing of the B-52H bomber carrying it.
Clearly, this will only add to the palatable frustration within the service, as well as elsewhere in the US military and in Congress, about the lack of progress in the testing of new hypersonic weapons, Trevithick pointed out.
I’m afraid to say, Mr President, it’s not much better in the air combat sector. While the US spent billions developing aircraft such as the F-35 and F-35B, and the new B-21 Skyraider, China took the easy route.
And can you blame them, really? Why spend all that money on R&D, when you can just copy, reverse engineer, or steal the high-tech blueprints.
It’s no coincidence that China’s upcoming Stealth bomber, the H-20, looks exactly like the USAF’s B-2 Spirit. China’s Air Force, or PLAAF, is expecting it to enter service by the mid-2020s, extending its range of attack by thousands of miles.
You might want to mention that last bit to Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley, who is busy redrawing the Indo-Pacific war plan.
The news is no better on the artificial intelligence front, following a report in Breaking Defense that for the first time on record, an AI system reportedly beat one of the PLA’s top fighter pilots in a simulated dogfight.
In space, Beijing is also speeding ahead, at light speed Mr President.
According to Canada’s CBC television network, China has been steadily progressing with its first rover on Mars and a moon lander that returned samples to Earth. Something like that hasn’t happened since 1976 when a Soviet probe landed and collected samples.
The country also has its own space station in orbit where its second crew of three taikonauts is now conducting science experiments and God knows what else.
In June, China and Russia unveiled a plan for a joint moon base dubbed the International Lunar Research Station, the latest example of burgeoning Sino-Russian cooperation, Foreign Policy reported.
Alongside a record number of space launches in 2021, you might want to keep tabs on that.
And now we come to that little island off the southern coast of China, known as Taiwan. You see Mr President, China wants it back. They think it belongs to them. And they don’t care, that the island is a democracy or that it abhors Beijing’s Communist Party cabal.
Taiwan has seen what has happened in Hong Kong, and they don’t want to go down that road. But it seems that your Zoom pal, President Xi, won’t take no for an answer, and is creating a military force capable of taking it back, by force. Nasty fellow!
So now what do you do? Do you want to start a Third World War over Taiwan, and leave much of the earth a burning cinder? Will you really launch US forces in a counter-attack, should an invasion occur?
These are just a few things you might want to ponder. Personally, I kind of want to live past 2022, perhaps even a few years beyond that. So think it over well, sir.
You should also know, that China is beefing up its nuclear triad at a record pace, building ICBM silos in the Gobi desert faster than any nation in the world.
So yeah, it’s going to be an interesting year, and what fresh hell awaits us, is anyone’s guess.
To quote the great US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt:
“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”
Happy New Year
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of China Factor.