Dr. John Lee Presentation on PRC Strategy

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While attending the Williams Foundation Seminar on Air Combat Operations: 2025 and Beyond, Dr. John Lee of the Kokoda Foundation provided a base line brief on how to understand the Chinese challenge, military and non-military to the region.

The contribution of Aussie airpower and associated military capabilities was to be understood in both national and coalition terms as a contributor to deal with such challenges.

Dr. Lee highlighted several key elements of the PRC challenge, which were included in his presentation, which is provided here.

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Dr. John Lee Presentation on PRC Strategy

  1. 1. Sir  Richard  Williams  Founda2on   Air  Combat  Opera2ons  –  2025  and   beyond     John  Lee   1  
  2. 2. Summary  of  the  Chinese  strategic  view   of  the  region   •  All  things  being  equal,  and  assuming  no  disrup5ve   developments  to  regional  trends,  America  is  here  to   stay  strategically  and  militarily  for  the  reasons  that  I   gave.   •  China’s  enduring  vulnerability  is  not  its  sovereignty   territory  but  its  inability  to  secure  unfe>ered  access  to   the  commons  by  itself,  and  inability  to  defend  its   unfe>ered  access  to  the  commons.   •  These  vulnerabili5es  will  persist  whilst  America  and  its   system  of  alliances  and  security  rela5onships  remain  in   Asia.  And  these  rela5onships  seem  to  be  robust  and   enduring.   2  
  3. 3. China’s  fundamental  strategy…   Lower  American  poli5cal  will  to  intervene  in  a   military  conflict;  or  lower  the  poli5cal  will  for   regional  states  to  resort  to  reliance  on  American   military  assistance  and  protec5on.   3  
  4. 4. How  do  you  achieve  it?   •  You  create  the  credible  expecta5on  that  you  can  impose  prohibi5ve   military  costs  on  American  military  assets;  or  that  you  can  impose   prohibi5ve  costs  on  the  military  assets  of  the  American  ally  with  or  without   American  a>empts  at  interven5on.   •  You  create  the  reasonable  expecta5on  that  any  significant  military  conflict   with  China  will  cause  severe  disrup5on  to  economic  prosperity  in  the   region  –  thereby  lowering  the  poli5cal  will  in  Washington  or  other  regional   capitals  to  contemplate  military  interven5on  in  the  first  place.   •  You  improve  your  military  capacity  to  seize  disputed  islands  before  an   organised  and  effec5ve  military  counter-­‐response  is  possible.  In  doing  so,   you  raise  the  chances  that  any  counter-­‐response  once  territory  has  already   been  seize  will  be  prohibi5ve.       •  You  gradually  exercise  de  facto  sovereignty  and  control  over  disputed   areas  in  the  East  and  South  China  Sea  in  a  manner  in  which  each  individual   move  is  never  extreme  enough  to  provoke  a  military  response.     4  
  5. 5. Two  inferences  from  the  Chinese   view…   •  They  don’t  have  to  be  able  to  win  the  ba>le,  let   alone  the  war,  to  achieve  their  poli5cal  and   strategic  objec5ves  –  just  be  able  to  impose   prohibi5ve  military  and/or  economic  costs.     •  They  don’t  need  military  capabili5es  to  defend  all   their  economic  interests  such  as  commercial   shipping  into  China  through  SLOCs  which  is   impossible.  They  just  need  enough  military   capability  to  cause  prohibi5ve  damage  to   commercial  shipping  for  other  countries  –  a  far   more  feasible  tac5c.       5  

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