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Strengthening US Deterrence Against China

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

The United States has always maintained military dominance around the world, notably in the Asia-Pacific area. This power has acted as the cornerstone of American strategy and security policy, fostering a sense of stability and putting potential enemies on notice. But just as the world changes, so too must its tactics. Defence specialists now tend to agree with the claim that American deterrence of China is ineffective.

Erosion of Military Supremacy

The assumption of American military superiority was uncontested until recently. However, a number of factors have helped to weaken this once-impenetrable stance. Other countries, most notably China, have been able to close the gap in military capability thanks to technology diffusion. China has put the United States' technological dominance to the test by making investments in cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, cyberwarfare, and anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems.

Furthermore, resources and focus have been diverted away from traditional military superiority because to the advent of global concerns like terrorism, climate change, and pandemics. It is getting harder for the US to retain its historical concentration only on military strength since these complex concerns call for a broader and more sophisticated approach to national security.

Antiquated Force Design

The force structure of the US military was designed for large-scale, high-intensity battles during the Cold War era. Even while it is still strong, it is inadequate to handle the particular problems that China's Asia-Pacific policy has brought about.

With an emphasis on gray-zone strategies and coercive diplomacy, China has chosen a more complex strategy that combines economic, political, and military force to achieve its goals. The US military's traditional emphasis on powerful conventional forces, in contrast, can be perceived as escalatory and rigid in its response to these complex threats. It is urgently necessary to modernise force design in order to better accommodate conflict's changing character.

Taiwan Conundrum

The dangerous position involving Taiwan may be the most urgent worry with regard to US deterrence in the Asia-Pacific region. The possibility of a regional confrontation is increased by China's territorial demands and increasingly aggressive actions in the Taiwan Strait.

It is now in doubt if the US can continue to prevent aggression in East Asia. Due to its proximity to Taiwan and developing military capabilities, China may be able to defeat Taiwan in a regional conflict. The sobering truth that the USs' current approach might not be adequate to prevent violence and maintain its interests in the area must be faced.

US`s authorities must rethink their strategy for discouraging China in the Asia-Pacific region in light of these difficulties. Adapting to the shifting character of the battle, a new strategy should be multidimensional and target China's gray-zone tactics, A2/AD capabilities, and economic power.

Integrated Approach: The US should combine its diplomatic, economic, and military efforts into one more comprehensive strategy. It is crucial to cooperate with regional allies in order to present a unified front against Chinese invasion. Prioritising the strengthening of relationships and alliances is important.

Modernization of the Force: It is crucial to review and update the force structure of the American military in order to better meet the unique challenges offered by China's approach. Investments in asymmetrical capabilities, cyber defences, and precision strike capabilities fall under this category.

Gray-Zone Deterrence: It's crucial to develop plans and tools to stop and counter China's gray-zone actions, like cyberattacks, information warfare, and coercion. Stability can be preserved by drawing clear boundaries and outlining the penalties for crossing them.

Economic Resilience: Diversifying economic links in the area and reducing reliance on China in crucial supply chains can increase US leverage. Encouragement of economic collaboration with neighbours can offer alternatives to Chinese hegemony.

The United States must use a multipronged approach that combines diplomacy, economics, and military assets in order to effectively deter China and safeguard regional stability. For the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, adapting to this new reality is not merely a matter of strategic decision.


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