A former US Marine Corps colonel has painted a rather gloomy picture of how the conflict between the United States and China might play out in the Taiwan Strait.
Colonel (Retd.) Grant Newsham has authored a book titled ‘When China Attacks: A Warning to America,’ in which he presents extensive research on the ongoing decline of America’s power and resolve and highlights the coherent strategy followed by China in pursuit of its clear objectives.
Newsham outlines a fictional but well-informed scenario timed to about a year or two from now wherein explosions occur at Pearl Harbor and nearby Hickam Air Force Base, a drone attack takes place at Naval Base San Diego, and a Chinese-crewed fishing vessel collides with a US oil tanker departing Hawaii for the Western Pacific.
Amidst these events, “the People’s Liberation Army is ashore in Taiwan in large numbers.” China brings down Taiwan’s internet and communications lines to cut off the island nation from the world.
The US government is caught by surprise, and the US Marines cannot make it to Taiwan, the US Navy vessels are on their way from Singapore and Guam, and missiles strike even the US West coast ports before they have time to respond.
He even goes as far as speculating that the Chinese special forces would launch attacks on Hawaii, Guam, and Japan.
“Taiwan realizes no help is coming. It sues for terms and gives up. Immediately, the rest of Asia gets the message,” writes Newsham saying the US’ First Island Chain of defense in the Western Pacific is broken. “From then on, China can no longer be contained, and Beijing will not stop at Taiwan.”
Newsham, who is currently a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, has had an esteemed career comprising intelligence and liaison roles in the US Marines, counterinsurgency and commercial positions as a US Foreign Service Officer, and a business career in Tokyo as an attorney with an investment bank and in the high-tech industry.
His book discusses a wide range of issues plaguing the US, which include social decay and economic weakness because of the gradual loss of manufacturing in the country, the corruption within the American academia, financial and corporate sector as well as politics, which have been heavily influenced by Chinese money.
On the contrary, Newsham points out the single-minded focus of China’s one-party state, run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in pursuing comprehensive national power through various means, including the use of psychological warfare, manipulation of international legal frameworks, the takeover of international organizations, exploitation of Covid pandemic and involvement in American addiction to fentanyl, undermining the US industry and the American dollar, and large scale hacking of digital infrastructure.
Newsham writes that it is crucial to keep in mind “that the Chinese Communist Party does not distinguish between peacetime and wartime as Americans do. To the Communists, there is no distinction. Non-kinetic warfare measures and an actual shooting war are on the same spectrum.
“How do we know this? The Chinese told us.”
He draws attention to the book, ‘Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America’ published by two People’s Liberation Army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, in 1999, which advocates economic warfare, attacks on key infrastructure, propaganda, and influence efforts to weaken and tear apart an opponent’s society and political system.
China’s Non-Kinetic Warfare Against The US
Several instances of the means mentioned above were discussed by Newsham, employed by China against the United States.
For example, as EurAsian Times reported earlier, China is believed to be waging perilous irregular warfare, or what could be categorized as ‘non-kinetic’ warfare against the US by using the Mexican drug cartels to traffic ‘deadly’ Fentanyl drugs into America.
China is the primary supplier of several precursor ingredients to the drug cartels for making Fentanyl.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) describes Fentanyl as the deadliest drug threat facing the US, as it is highly addictive and fatal. According to the agency, Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than Heroin. Just two milligrams of Fentanyl, the small amount that fits on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially deadly dose.
According to Derek Maltz, the former chief of special operations of the DEA, China’s involvement in Fentanyl trafficking must be viewed as part of its larger national strategy to supersede the US in terms of economic and military power.
Maltz said that China utilizes social media outlets as crucial marketing tools to glamorize the use of Fentanyl by the youth of America. He noted that Fentanyl-laced pills could be ordered on Snapchat and social media, then delivered to “the house like it’s a pizza.”
Similarly, the US Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking last year warned that China’s most deadly threat to the US at present was not its defense build-up or military aggression. Instead, it’s the role it plays in the Fentanyl supply chain.
The Biden administration has raised its concerns with China but has not taken any direct punitive measures. Meanwhile, China has denied any intentional involvement in the Fentanyl crisis. However, most US officials do not believe China’s claims.
Another means of Chinese non-kinetic warfare, as discussed by Newsham in his book, are China’s propaganda and influence efforts in the US.
The most recent instance of this can be found in an investigative report by the Associated Press (AP), published this week, which found that China has allegedly established several connections in Utah in the western US to influence US affairs.
AP reports that China and its US-based advocates have cultivated relationships with state officials and lawmakers over several years. These relationships also include appeals to Utah officials’ affiliations with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormon church. Mormonism is an offshoot of Christianity and is practiced by the majority of Utah residents.
These efforts at cultivating relationships have reportedly bore fruits, with the lawmakers in Utah having delayed or even nixed legislation in the state that the Chinese government opposed.
For example, China-friendly lawmakers delayed action to ban Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes at state universities for a year.
Frank Montoya Jr., a retired FBI counterintelligence agent based in Utah, told the AP that China’s successful efforts in Utah demonstrate “how pervasive and persistent China has been in trying to influence America.”
“Utah is an important foothold,” Montoya continued. “If the Chinese succeed in Salt Lake City, they can also make it in New York and elsewhere.”
The scope of Chinese efforts in Utah is not confined to the state’s officials but also covers espionage activities undertaken by China’s civilian intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS).
In January, former graduate student Ji Chaoqun was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges related to spying for China. The Chicago-based student was baptized at a Latter-day Saints church and had “been going to Utah more often lately,” according to his Facebook page and court records.
Also, a former US intelligence official from Utah, Ron Hansen, pleaded guilty to trying to sell classified information to China, which included an assessment of the views of various US politicians toward China. The FBI found the names of Utah elected officials among sensitive files stored on his laptop.
Hansen was well known in Utah’s political circles and helped organize the first-ever annual US-China National Governors Forum in 2011 in Salt Lake City, as per court records. The US State Department canceled the forums in 2020 because of concerns about Chinese influence efforts.
US Acquiescence In China’s De-Facto Takeover Of The South China Sea
Newsham, in his books, argues that considering the Chinese inroads into US politics and society, the US government’s acquiescence in China’s de facto takeover of the South China Sea is possible.
“If we lose the war with China, it will be because we want to lose,” he writes. “And if we want to lose, it will be because the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] and its proxies and fellow travelers have gotten into our heads and have made us forget what it is to be American. What it means to be free.”
According to Newsham, the PLA can launch a full-scale invasion of Taiwan. “Having learned from Russia’s mistakes in Ukraine, the Chinese will move suddenly, with overwhelming force, and quickly take the island,” Newsham notes that once they take over Taiwan, they will have open access to the Pacific.
“This will enable them to surround Japan and position themselves between America and Australia. US dominance, as we know it, will be gone. Military and economic containment of China will be rolled back,” Newsham explains.
However, going by the recent developments in the Indo-Pacific, in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, it seems unlikely the US and its allies would accept the Chinese invasion of Taiwan and the de facto takeover of the South China Sea.
As EurAsian Times discussed at a great length earlier this month, the Ukraine crisis appears to be strengthening the cooperation between the US and its partners in the Indo-Pacific more than ever, amid fears that China is inching closer toward forcefully reuniting Taiwan with the mainland.
In the recent few months, Japan has decided to double its defense spending and purchase long-range weapons from the US; South Korea has made it clear that stability in the Taiwan Strait is critical for its security; the Philippines has granted the US military new basing rights in the country and is even considering joint patrols of the South China Sea with Australia, Japan, and the US.