This week Army Secretary Christine Wormuth joined Bonny Lin, Director at CSIS’ China Power Project, for a discussion on “China’s Power: Up for Debate 2021.” Secretary Wormuth delivered keynote remarks on the challenges posed by China’s growing power and the provided the view from the United States Army.
From the outset, both Dr. Lin and Secretary Wormuth made it clear that over the last decade China has transformed itself into one of the world’s most formidable militaries. This was a notion that was evident in the most recent Department of Defense report to Congress on the military and security developments involving the PRC.
Secretary Wormuth noted that the “while the United States was countering insurgency and combating terrorism in the Middle East for the last 20 years, the PRC very deliberately began what has become a sweeping military modernization effort.” Most important, she emphasized that, “a more powerful Chinese military helps to underwrite Beijing’s strategy to achieve rejuvenation of the Chinese nation by 2049 and t include development of the PLA into a world class military by midcentury.”
The ever-growing strength of the PLA goes beyond manpower and seeps into “non-kinetic” capabilities including cyberwarfare. Secretary Wormuth emphasized this point, noting, “we are in a competition with China that has far reaching consequences.” She explains that the Department of Defense’s strategy of integrated deterrence means that they are “really trying to think about how can we present a strong deterrent across domains… we really have to not just think about the air domain, the maritime domain, the land domain [but] about newer domains, if you will, cyberspace.” The clear recognition from the Secretary that cyberspace is on the same level with traditional branches of the military is critical to ensuring the safety of Americans as cyberwarfare is ever present.
When asked about the Army’s role in combating the growing threat of China and the PLA, she explained that a key element is strong allied relationships with countries in the region. This strategy can be seen playing out beyond the Army and military and is a key component of countering the Chinese’s civil-military fusion strategy and their unfair and illegal technology transfer practices.
Finally, Secretary Wormuth made it clear that “The army is stepping up to that challenge, both in terms of how we contribute to this country’s ability to compete with China, and our ability to deter coercion and aggression in the region.” There is no doubt at the Department of Defense that China is a clear rival of the U.S., both in a technology space and on the ground in the Indo Pacific region.
China Tech Threat commends Secretary Wormuth for her strong stance against Chinese aggression and the dangerous growth of the PLA and urges all branches of the military, and beyond, to remain tough on China.
This includes agencies like the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). It may be little known, but it has a critical role to play and should put companies with ties to the PLA – such as Chinese semiconductor fabs YMTC and CXMT – on the Entity List and use export controls to limit the sales of American toolmakers – such as KLA, Lam, and Applied – to these enterprises.