Initial Kinetic Operations
by David Archibald
14 August 2020
A couple of days ago there was an online ad for Chinese-made GenTrax generators, at 70% off the normal retail price. There is no future in selling at below or near cost, so what was that all about?
The following extract from a new book by Washington-based Australian defence guru Greg Copley, The New Total War of the 21st Century, provides an explanation:
Initial Strategic Operations
Strategic operations in the new total war had been under way for some time before the 2020 watershed. However, with the watershed of the COVID-19 crisis, the PRC’s most urgent initial strategic operation was to ensure that it consolidated its hold on markets around the world. It had been losing market share gradually to other manufacturing states as labour costs mounted in the PRC.
The initial strategic operation of the CPC in early 2020 was to ensure that the PRC’s factories returned to full production as quickly as possible so that an abundance of PRC-made goods could be dumped at concessionary prices onto the world market. This would, if done rapidly and at enticing prices, make it more difficult to stimulate the re-establishment of manufacturing in the major “pseudo-post-industrial” client states of North America, Europe, and Australasia.
This operation was a race against time for Beijing. It relied on the market place lure of cheap goods to overturn the instinct to resist Beijing and recreate — and incentivize and protect — revived local industry. The ability of client states to resist the dependence on the PRC would require legislation and government programs, and Beijing hoped that, over time, the urgency of those efforts would fade and the client states would fall back into the slumber of dependency on the PRC as the supplier of goods.
Beijing also hoped that by returning to robust economic production early in 2020 it could reinforce its claims that its form of governance had triumphed over the chaos of liberal democracy as evidenced by the COVID-19 malaise in Western and other “Western-style democracies”. These were reasonable strategic exercises, but there was no evidence by June 2020 of success, or that, on the other hand, the US and its allies would have the ability to regrow their independent strategic capabilities in the near-term.
And Beijing clearly hoped that, by dampening a return to vigorous Western dominance in the short-term, it could then deliver, with kinetic operations as well as ongoing splitting operations within target societies, a further process of reducing US-led abilities to with stand the relative growth and dominance of the PRC.
So that is why Chinese-made stuff is being sold at cost.
But there is likely another reason. Once war breaks out, Chinese trading stock in Australia will be expropriated. There was a similar exercise just prior to the entry of Japan into WW2. Japanese patrol boats travelled to northern Australia to collect Japanese pearling vessels, well before the end of the pearling season. They were shot up by Dutch aircraft as they passed through the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese collection exercise was a signal of the imminent start of hostilities, if you were attuned to it.
The Dutch East Indies is now Indonesia, which brings up another strange aspect of Chinese behavior. So far this year the Chicoms have forced two heads of state to visit their border areas. In January Indonesia’s president went to the Natuna Islands, accompanied by four F-16s, because the Chinese had sent a fishing fleet, with attendant coastguard vessels, deep into Indonesia’s economic zone. Then Prime Minister Modi went to India’s border with China after 20 Indian soldiers were killed by a Chicom attack on 15th June.
How does China expect to get to the Indian Ocean if they upset Indonesia? If you were in China’s position there would be one country you would not trouble and that is Indonesia. Otherwise Chinese ships would have to go around Australia to get to the Indian Ocean — another 16,000 km.
Either they are blind to reality or they have some superior understanding. It may be they only see the world as they want to see it.
In his book, Greg Copley then goes on to discuss the opening of hostilities — the stage in which people get killed and maimed by the Chinese, called initial kinetic operations. The date China told Japan for the fishing boat swarm in the Senkakus is 16th August. The US is taking the date seriously. Three B-2 bombers have returned to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The B-2 requires housing in an air-conditioned shelter and there are four of those at the Diego Garcia base.
B-2 Bomber Shelters, Diego Garcia
A number of B-1 bombers have also returned to Guam, where shelters have been built to house them. The B-52 bombers that were based in Guam were removed in April this year because, without shelters, they would have been destroyed by the opening Chicom missile salvo.
B-1 Bombers at Guam, 2018
More from Greg Copley’s new book:
Initial Kinetic Operations
President Xi was, in May 2020, clearly hoping to postpone initial kinetic operations of the new war for as long as possible. It was in his interests to make as much progress as possible before his opponents began their own strategic revival. That “strategic revival” by Beijing’s opponents was the prospect that the US and other PRC client states would quickly reduce or substantively end their supply chain and general trade reliance on the PRC.
In fact, public and governmental reaction against the PRC in Beijing’s trading partners was swift and strong. Beijing’s attempts to bully the Australian Government into withdrawing its demand for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus epidemic were successful in that the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva on May 18-19, 2020, dampened down the Australian-led call for an independent inquiry in favour of a World Health Organization (WHO) commitment to a “lessons learned” inquiry “soon”.
This actually only served to anger the US and its allies further, something compounded by a statement on May 19, 2020, from the PRC embassy in Canberra noting that the terms of the COVID-19 resolution were “totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent international review … All those who know the consultation process that led to the resolution understand this. To claim the WHA’s resolution [as] a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke.
PRC Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye had, until a few months earlier, been able to get lead articles into the Australian national media to berate Australians into thanking Beijing for Australia’s economic success. By mid-May 2020, every appearance or statement by Ambassador Cheng generated more Australian calls to rebuild Australian industry and reduce reliance on trade with the PRC.
Beijing had numbed, or paralyzed, North American, European, Australasian, South-East Asian, and other target audiences for a decade. It had made resistance to the “rise of China” unthinkable. But that period was now over. The war had been enjoined. So where and how would kinetic operations begin? Beijing was reluctant to initiate military action, but was ready to engage once it has begun.
Both the PRC and US saw advantages and disadvantages in delaying decisive tactical or theatre action. The path to escalation to nuclear engagement was also far less clear — and deterrence far less sure — than during the NATO-War saw Pact “mutually-assured destruction” era.
There seems a greater willingness by the PLA to engage in theatre-nuclear capabilities (i.e. against military targets). Military action in the near-term could well consolidate the PRC position in its “near abroad”. It could even achieve de facto or de jure control of Taiwan, a critical legitimizing goal for the CPC, if the US did not rush in tripwire assets and support to show a pre-emptive tripwire to deter PRC escalation. But what about after that? Would it give Beijing the breathing space to “fight another day”, given that — had it left matters as they were — it would not have had that chance, due to its growing economic difficulty (and the potential for collapse)?
Like Japan in 1941, the CPC had to buy time if it was to survive and consolidate control over markets and sources of supply. But, like Japan in 1941, would a precipitate action cause not just the US, but a variety of its allies, to rebuild in the longer-term?
Greg Copley warns that the Chicoms take a far more casual approach to using nuclear weapons than what one might expect. Certainly if they find themselves losing their war of choice then China is likely to start nuking Japanese cities. Tactical nuclear weapons have yields in the range of 72 tonnes of TNT equivalent up to a couple of hundred kilotons. For comparison, the yield of the blast that recently levelled Beirut’s port area was close to two kilotons.
David Archibald is the author of The Anticancer Garden in Australia.