0128 GMT January 27, 2020
Researchers at the Santa Monica, a think tank in California, have analyzed the relative military capabilities of the US and China at seven-year intervals, covering air, maritime, space, cyber and nuclear domains, The Stars and Stripes reported.
The 430-page report released by Rand Corp. this month has examined two “plausible” scenarios where China invades Taiwan and the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.
“Over the next five to 15 years, if US and (People's Liberation Army) forces remain on roughly current trajectories, Asia will witness a progressively receding frontier of US dominance,” the report said.
Washington accuses Beijing of undergoing a massive “land reclamation” program in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, and says China’s territorial claims of the man-made islands could further militarize the region.
The study has found that China does not need to catch up to the US in terms of overall military power in order to control the region at its doorsteps.
“No one wants war; nobody expects war,” said Eric Heginbotham, lead author and political scientist at Rand. “But I think the balance of power affects calculations on both sides. Balance of power has a major impact on the probability of war.”
The report said that China's ability to threaten the US Navy surface fleet "at significant ranges from the mainland" has greatly increased since 1996.
This is mainly because of the growth in China's anti-surface capability with the development of a long-range surveillance system to track ships at long distances, as well as deployment of sophisticated anti-ship cruise missiles, strike aircraft and ships, and the use of advanced submarines armed with cruise missiles.
“The impact of Chinese threats to carriers will likely be greatest during the first stages of conflict,” the report said.
The US can mitigate China’s anti-surface capabilities through anti-missile systems and air patrols from aircraft carriers — measures that ironically diminish the US military's ability to project power, the study argued.
The study’s modeling has found that the effectiveness of the Chinese submarine fleet in attack scenarios against aircraft carriers improved “by roughly an order of magnitude” between 1996 and 2010, and will continue to rise through 2017.
“Chinese submarines would present a credible threat to US surface ships in a conflict over Taiwan or the South China Sea,” the report said.