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China Access Denial Strategy Against United States

Guest National Interest

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Guest National Interest

America’s ability to project power into the western Pacific, once unchallenged, is now threatened by the maturation of what Pentagon planners refer to as China’s “anti-access/area-denial” strategy. The goal here is not to match the Americans ship-for-ship and plane-for-plane but rather to develop certain specialized capabilities designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, for U.S. forces to operate freely anywhere close to China’s coasts. In the past decade, Beijing has made considerable progress toward achieving this goal. Every one of the relative handful of bases on which the United States relies to sustain its presence in East Asia will soon be within range of bombardment by repeated salvos of precisely targeted Chinese conventional ballistic and cruise missiles. At the same time, the PLA is in the process of knitting together a network of satellites, onshore radars and other sensors that will permit it to locate and track an enemy’s surface ships hundreds of miles off its coasts and then use a combination of torpedoes, high-speed cruise missiles and land-based ballistic missiles to sink or disable them. America’s huge and costly aircraft carriers are the key to its global power-projection capabilities. In a future crisis, Washington might have little choice but to pull them far back from China’s coasts, well beyond the effective range of their aircraft. This would dramatically reduce their ability to provide air defense for U.S. friends or to conduct strikes against Chinese forces on land or at sea. In addition to these more direct modes of attack, the PLA is experimenting with antisatellite weapons and techniques for taking down an enemy’s computer networks, thereby rendering him deaf and blind during the critical opening phases of a war.



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