You see that New York Times' story, three posts down, on China's growing threat to Taiwan? Arms Control Wonk Jeffrey Lewis, who's spent a whole lot of time studying the Chinese military, isn't buying it.
All the unclassified modeling of a PRC-ROC [China-Taiwan] throwdown suggests the Chinese need a lot more than a few more amphibious ships and submarines to make a run at Taiwan. [The Pentagon's annual assessment] Chinese Military Power in 2003 captured some of the difficulty in mounting an amphibious operation when it noted:However, the PLAs [China's People's Liberation Army] ability to project force beyond Chinas land borders, while improving, remains limited due to a shortage of amphibious ships, heavy cargo carrying aircraft, long-range transports, and other logistical shortcomings. Even though the PLA has improved its amphibious attack capabilities in recent years, there are few signs that Beijing is serious about increasing the PLAs heavy lift capacity or conducting sustained ground operations abroad in the near term.The New York Times' description of the intelligence report isn't very, well, descriptive -- I'd like to know what kind of amphibious assault ships and whether they are augmenting or replacing existing assets. Either way, [what's described in] the report doesn't seem like enough to fundamentally changes the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait.Chinese Military Power in 2004 did allude to amphibious and submarine construction, but still concludes that "Most of the PLAs landing craft are small and incapable of operating on the open ocean; its larger landing ships are old and in need of replacement. Since the mid-1990s, a number of newly designed landing ships have been under construction; however, the numbers currently believed to be under construction most likely are insufficient to support a sizable amphibious operation in the next 5 years."THERE'S MORE: Be sure to see Jeffrey tear AEI "scholar" Dan Blumenthal a new one over Beijing's alleged "marketing to the mullahs." Here's a one-sentence sample: "Blumenthals article starts strong which is to say that it begins with a falsifiable thesis statement." Read the rest.