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The US and China as the two current real world powers, have a push and shove relationship.  This does not mean that it is directly combative, but it does mean that these two nations are bumping into each other, on all of the world’s stages, especially of late.  This was never so clear, as the build-up to and then visit of President Hu with President Obama.

Currently, China is on the rise in both economic and military terms.  While everyone knows of the economic growth that defines the Chinese story, fewer people are following the rejuvenation of the Chinese military and its capacity to forward project offensive capacity.  The first real sign of this was when China fired a missile of theirs, hitting a satellite in orbit.

They quickly followed that up with a demonstration of a domestic missile defense test of their own.  The first test pointed at the US and its ability to spy from the sky, while the second was pointed at Taiwan and its inability to hurt the mainland in a hostile exchange of military hardware.

In the days leading up to the Hu visit, there was an exchange of minister level representatives, as each side worked out what could and could not be discussed in public during the meetings of the two world leaders.

In a very public attempt to make a point, China unveiled its news fighter aircraft.  The J-20 airplane, a new aircraft design indigenous to the Chinese military, has been developed with obvious stealth features built into it.

While the aircraft is not expected to be deployed by front line units for another 5 years, it is obvious that China is a lot farther along the road of stealth technology than the Pentagon expected.  It is also possible for China to ramp up production of the design, if it is more than a prototype.

There are some obvious design features of the new J-20 that have not been discussed in the main stream media.  The first is that due to some of its specific design features, such as the estimated size and scale of the aircraft, that it is not designed to be an actual fighter aircraft in the context that an F-15 or F-16 is a fighter.

The design appears to allow China to send stealthy aircraft loaded with internal weapons, for long distances to provide surprise tactical bombing missions.  The aircraft is too large to be a fighter in the normal sense, and the rear of the aircraft has not been optimized to be stealthy.

In my opinion, this aircraft is a modernized version of the old F-111 aircraft of the US air force.  The new J-20 is realistically a fast moving, stealthy medium bomber.  I am sure that this was not missed by the Pentagon or Japan, during the rushed unveiling of the aircraft details before the Hu visit to Washington DC.

The return of China to the world’s military stage is long overdue, and not unexpected.  However, China is not yet ready to fully flex its new muscles.  They are on a crash course to design and build their own aircraft carriers.  This is a long lead time item and will not be deployable in the same fashion as the US navy air craft carriers are for at least 5 years or, more realistically, 10 years or more. It takes ALONG time to train a crew of men & women to operate an aircraft carrier at sea, especially when the carrier is brand spanking new.

While China is flexing its new anti-carrier missile defense system, the US is designing and planning on upgrading its Navy with rail gun technology.  Additionally, the design of the Chinese missile’s flight envelop will allow the US to target the missile from shortly after the time it is launched until after its peak ballistic arc.  The tit for tat expansion of technology does not mask the current situation though.

The first and foremost aspect of the US Empire is that it currently has a couple of million combat hardened troops, both active duty and reserve duty. The US has spent the last decade putting a combat edge on its military.

Currently, the US is winding down its war footing in Iraq, while unleashing the Marines in Afghanistan.  This has caused the US to find itself in the opposite situation it was in a few years ago.  That is, what to do with its military when it is only fighting one real combat mission.

It appears during the Hu visit to Washington DC, this topic was brought up by the President of the United States.

Obama warned his Chinese counterpart, President Hu Jintao, that if Beijing did not step up pressure on North Korea, Washington would redeploy its forces in Asia to protect itself from a potential North Korean strike on U.S. soil. …

Obama first made the warning in a telephone call to Hu last month, and repeated it over a private dinner at the White House on Tuesday, the U.S. administration official said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs first hinted at the stepped-up pressure at a news briefing on Thursday, when he told reporters that Obama’s meeting with Hu on Wednesday had helped shift entrenched attitudes on the Korean peninsula.

The dinner was Tuesday night; the North Koreans contacted the South Koreans about a resumption of communications between the nations within hours.  This event was not noticed in the US press, but it was noticed in China.

“Playing tough like this, it might just backfire, I’m afraid,” Wang said. “If this article represents the real thinking by American leaders, the danger of war on the peninsula can never be dismissed.”

“China has its own strategy in trying to influence North Korea. It wants to find the least costly path to solve this crisis.”

The implications of the above are clear, to those who want to see them.  The US, while tired, poor and distracted, is still the world’s only military that can deploy anywhere in the world, supporting its war making capacity, while taking over a hostile and armed nation even holding it for years.

The ability is sometimes called “Sustained Forward Offensive Capacity”. Via UN peace-keeping missions, the US has been able to export this spare capacity in other nations to weaker states. This has left the US with the only deployable (and able) untapped military in the global political arena.

This was not missed by Hu at the dinner; The last thing China wants is 100,000+ combat hardened American’s stationed in a ring of pearls around the Chinese coastal waters on islands held by Japan, Philippians, and other coastal locations like Vietnam.

Confessions of a Macro Contrarian

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