The United States has held a military advantage over the rest of the world since the end of the Cold War, but the time is rapidly approaching when that will no longer be the case. In the past several decades, the Chinese have carried out major military reforms, built enormous cyber divisions, obtained sophisticated weapons technology, and constructed strategic ports, islands, and military bases around the world, all in the name of “active defense”. As part of its military modernization process, China has increasingly focused on the role of dual-use technologies to achieve what it calls a revolution in “military-civil fusion.” As part of its efforts, it has leveraged American investments in research and development to build its own defense systems.
As global supply chains have become increasingly intertwined, China has infiltrated the United States’ military’s procurement processes. The propellant that fires US Hellfire missiles is sourced in China. The glass in night-vision goggles contains a rare earth metal that predominantly comes from China. American computers are mainly produced in China. The list goes on.
China has also been quietly building up its nuclear arsenal over the past decades, unlimited by treaties which restrict the U.S.’ testing and deployment of nuclear weapons. And while China’s physical army has become nothing short of powerful, its cyber divisions are among the best in the world. The PLA’s digital battalions conduct malware campaigns and hostile cyber assaults daily. While the US has been focused elsewhere, China’s military has built up dramatically, and is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. The PLA has become a direct challenger to the United States military’s global supremacy, giving the CCP another tool to spread its influence, ideology, and anti-democratic philosophy.