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(Popular Mechanics)   What would a war between the US and China look like? Popular Mechanics describes it for you   (popularmechanics.com ) divider line
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14452 clicks; posted to Geek » on 02 Jan 2011 at 12:18 PM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2011-01-02 12:25:34 PM  
Like a Terran vs. Protoss battle. Lots of Zerg rushes.
 
2011-01-02 12:25:38 PM  
Well, this is certainly an article that's needed.
 
2011-01-02 12:26:26 PM  
"Chances are that a war between China and the United States will not happen in 2015, or at any other time. Under normal circumstances, a war for Taiwan would simply be too costly for either side to wage, especially given the chance of nuclear escalation. But circumstances are not always normal."

is the only sentence that you need to read from this article. The rest is nothing more than an especially realistic brand of science fiction.

Also, any war between the US and China will most likely be a combination of a trade and propaganda war. Which you could reasonably argue is already taking place.
 
2011-01-02 12:26:46 PM  
i52.tinypic.com
 
2011-01-02 12:28:01 PM  
we're already over-extended in the middle east. if China really wants taiwan they're going to get it. it'll hurt 'em, and probably quite a lot. And they won't take the island intact either...but if china is willing to pay a very high cost in blood then they'll take that island and nobody can really do much about it.
 
2011-01-02 12:29:00 PM  
I would like to think our radar screens are not hooked up to the Internet.
 
2011-01-02 12:29:01 PM  
They'll hack into our power generators telling them to operate at a different cycle, which causes fatigue and vibrations on the parts, shutting the power plant down.

Not much of a problem if they can replace the parts, which are all made in China.

Insert silly explosions for new Die Hard movie.
 
2011-01-02 12:33:58 PM  

SharkTrager: I would like to think our radar screens are not hooked up to the Internet.


Best hope none of our civilian contractors manufacture parts on the cheap in China, or outsource mission critical source code to underpaid programmers with no real ties or commitment to the United States government.

oh...wait...
 
2011-01-02 12:35:49 PM  
tFA fails for not mentioning the B-52s and B-2s that would beat the Nimitz the the punch.

And that their money supply would dry up because the first shot fired would result in a boycott of all things Chinese. Plus they'd never get back a dime we borrowed from them.

Fighting us is the last thing they want. They will push us out of Asia w/o firing a shot, and we'll give them the money to do it.
 
2011-01-02 12:36:12 PM  
Wow...the more I read this shiatty, shiatty article, the more I realize someone has just retrofitted the carrier battle scene from Red Storm Rising, and replaced "Soviet" with "Chinese".

I also disagree with this:

The following morning, Chinese troop transports cross the strait and secure the island without firing a shot. A brutal ground war was never part of the plan. Beijing calculated that without American assistance, Taipei would surrender. It also predicted an endless loop of video footage of the crippled Nimitz returning to port. There is more than one way to win a war.

The Taiwanese really hate mainland China. And they don't want to be run by it any more than we do. There are tens of millions of them, and they will fight. The Chinese army is large, but not especially veteran or technologically overwhelming. And they'll be fighting from a beachhead.

The Taiwanese aren't idiots, and they aren't cowards: they know that all they have to do is hold out, and eventual American, Japanese, European and maybe even Russian aid will be forthcoming. None of the world's great powers likes dealing with China now; they would be far harder and more insufferable to deal with if they made and got away with a move like this.

At best, he's describing the starting battle of a great war. There's no way this would be a limited engagement. You wipe out one American fleet, and you start a war, not finish it. That's the lesson of 1941, and the Chinese know it.
 
2011-01-02 12:36:19 PM  
And there's no way in hell this will be happening in less than 5 years, not because of the reasons listed in the article, but because China's economy is entirely dependent on exports to the US & Europe, and likely still will be in 5 years. Not to mention the billions and billions China holds in US bonds that we would be able to instantly invalidate with little or no repercussions.

China isn't going to bankrupt their entire country over an island, no matter how "irrational" some Admiral thinks China can be when it come to Taiwan. It's no-win for China, either you win the war and get trade sanctions from almost every nation in the world due to occupying another country, or you lose and become the West's biatch.
 
2011-01-02 12:41:40 PM  

Free Range Fetus Farmer: They'll hack into our power generators telling them to operate at a different cycle, which causes fatigue and vibrations on the parts, shutting the power plant down.

Not much of a problem if they can replace the parts, which are all made in China.

Insert silly explosions for new Die Hard movie.


You could do a lot worse than that. If you intentionally induce pole slipping, you can literally destroy the generator itself.

See: The Aurora Test (new window)
 
2011-01-02 12:42:00 PM  

whistleridge: The Taiwanese really hate mainland China. And they don't want to be run by it any more than we do. There are tens of millions of them, and they will fight. The Chinese army is large, but not especially veteran or technologically overwhelming. And they'll be fighting from a beachhead.


not to mention the chinese would be fighting against one of the most heavily armed nations in the world and whom are extremely motivated to defend their little island until their dying breath.

now that's not all the folks on that island...but it's enough of them. If China wanted to send a lot of their army to die in an extended campaign then yes, eventually they'd win through sheer attrition. But it'd hurt them badly and I think they know it.
 
2011-01-02 12:46:27 PM  

The Madd Man: Free Range Fetus Farmer: They'll hack into our power generators telling them to operate at a different cycle, which causes fatigue and vibrations on the parts, shutting the power plant down.

Not much of a problem if they can replace the parts, which are all made in China.

Insert silly explosions for new Die Hard movie.

You could do a lot worse than that. If you intentionally induce pole slipping, you can literally destroy the generator itself.

See: The Aurora Test (new window)


Well, that didn't work. Let's try that again:

The Aurora Test (new window)
 
2011-01-02 12:46:34 PM  
A couple of things. One is that parts of that read an awful lot like Red Storm Rising, particularly the carrier strike. Two, I find it somewhere between unlikely and impossible that NorKor will not take advantage of a Sino-American war to attack SorKor.
 
2011-01-02 12:48:06 PM  
China would love to snap up Taiwan if they could do it without hassle. I know, we look at Taiwan, and think, damn, who wouldn't want that? But China's attitude is that in ten years, or maybe twenty years at most, they'll have a hundred Taiwan equivalents anyway.

It's not a big deal. But they don't want to look weak or ridiculous by pretending that Taiwan isn't sassing them and that we aren't making empery noises right off their shore.


whistleridge: any war between the US and China will most likely be a combination of a trade and propaganda war. Which you could reasonably argue is already taking place.

Yeah, but China doesn't see it as a war. To China, this is the regular season, and it really doesn't matter -- they're absolutely confident that when the playoffs come, they will walk to victory.

China does not see us as an enemy or rival except when we make threatening noises. To China, we happen to be ahead of them, but we're not in their way. China believes that China is destined to be awesome (awesomer), and no one else matters. They think this is inevitable.

/for monolithic values of "China"
//but you know what I mean
 
2011-01-02 12:50:28 PM  

Weaver95: we're already over-extended in the middle east. if China really wants taiwan they're going to get it. it'll hurt 'em, and probably quite a lot. And they won't take the island intact either...but if china is willing to pay a very high cost in blood then they'll take that island and nobody can really do much about it.


If they can't keep their economy growing at 10%, they're going to have a lot of restive proles to get rid of. This could be perfect.
 
2011-01-02 12:54:07 PM  
China's anti-carrier missles scare me not so much because of a possibility that China might use them but that they might sell the technology to someone who would. Missles like this are why I want the U.S. to put more into the development of point defence laser systems.
 
2011-01-02 12:57:21 PM  
but we win right?
 
2011-01-02 12:59:56 PM  

Free Range Fetus Farmer: They'll hack into our power generators telling them to operate at a different cycle, which causes fatigue and vibrations on the parts, shutting the power plant down.


Somebody get on DARPA to distribute the power grid like they did the communications grid.

What are the hardest things to kill? Bacteria, viruses and cancer.
 
2011-01-02 01:00:19 PM  
FTFA: "But China's goal was never to trigger an extended, costly, bloody contest of superpowers."

Bad news: an unprovoked attack on Taiwan that involves an unprovoked attack on the Nimitz Group won't end any other way. America won't take their ball and just go home.
 
2011-01-02 01:05:32 PM  

astrotri: FTFA: "But China's goal was never to trigger an extended, costly, bloody contest of superpowers."

Bad news: an unprovoked attack on Taiwan that involves an unprovoked attack on the Nimitz Group won't end any other way. America won't take their ball and just go home.


This is the game that the Japanese tried to play in WWII, and look where it got them.
 
2011-01-02 01:05:46 PM  

astrotri: FTFA: "But China's goal was never to trigger an extended, costly, bloody contest of superpowers."

Bad news: an unprovoked attack on Taiwan that involves an unprovoked attack on the Nimitz Group won't end any other way. America won't take their ball and just go home.


I dunno. sometimes I think the Republicans WOULD just let China slap us upside the head and get away with it, but only if they could someone use it against Obama (and the Democrats) in the next election cycle.
 
2011-01-02 01:05:59 PM  
There's one thing that the article and no one else here has mentioned yet: China does not have the sealift capabilities to support an invasion large enough to succeed.

Oh, don't get me wrong, they have an amphibious force and it's not inconsequential, but it's not enough to carry enough troops in one go to assure them that their beachhead won't be destroyed. Also, our submarines would basically do to their amphib groups what their cruise missiles could do to our CVBGs: waves of torpedoes and cruise missiles.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, the whole "spamming the carrier with missiles" tactic was the reason we built the Aegis system on our cruisers and destroyers. They're MADE to handle missile spam.

Anti-ship ballistic missiles? Seriously? You know how far a nuke-carrier can run in the 20-minutes it takes for a TBM to make it's run? Long enough to push the warhead right up to its intercept envelope's outer limit, where it can't maneuver and is thus easy pray for our upgraded missiles - now with ABM capability since we considered this issue after the '91 war.

Not saying it would be a curb stomp win for us; it would be bloody on both sides. But I think they're overstating China's über-leetness a bit. Granted, their buildup is a concern that we need to address, like say, putting some more missile defenses on Taiwan. Or reactivating more nuc-boats to patrol the strait. I don't care how quiet diesel-electric boats are on their motors, they gotta surface sometime to run their diesel engines to recharge their batteries, and that's what our nuclear powered attack subs will be waiting for.

Anyway, just saying, it's not as bad as stated in the article. Although it should be a good warning not to cut the military down any more. Unless of course you like the idea of Taiwan bathed in blood. Or South Korea. I'm sure China would love to have all of the Korean peninsula free of US forces through any means possible.

/Just my two cents
//Also, we're going to be deploying railguns on our next major destroyer class. Seriously, RAILGUNS. Fark your ballistic missiles.
 
2011-01-02 01:07:28 PM  

GoteamVenture: but we win right?


nope...due to the rate of reproduction in China the war will never end.
 
2011-01-02 01:08:01 PM  
China doesn't want a war, but it does want to project it's power and not look like a wimp. This is how a war would happen and how it would end:

1- Taiwan irks China somehow: Threatening independence, flying their own flag at the Olympics, killing a panda, whatever.

2- China decides to hold live-fire military drills in the Taiwan straits, and plans to put its military on a small, un-inhabited Taiwanese island. They say "we're allowed to do that, since Taiwan is part of China.

3- The world shiats itself and overreacts for a while. The US moves forces closer to the region.

4- The Chinese do something crazy--- they destroy either a Japanese or South Korean satellite (but probably not a US one). They say it was an accident, but everyone knows it was a show of force.

5- After a lot of noise, Taiwan and China sign some sort of weird treaty that doesn't make any sense, essentially pushing-off reunification or independence for another 50 years.
 
2011-01-02 01:09:37 PM  

Weaver95: astrotri: FTFA: "But China's goal was never to trigger an extended, costly, bloody contest of superpowers."

Bad news: an unprovoked attack on Taiwan that involves an unprovoked attack on the Nimitz Group won't end any other way. America won't take their ball and just go home.

I dunno. sometimes I think the Republicans WOULD just let China slap us upside the head and get away with it, but only if they could someone use it against Obama (and the Democrats) in the next election cycle.


I sincerely doubt that. Especially after you attack one of our carrier groups and two allies: in this article, Taiwan and Japan. Republicans would have riots and be hung if they didn't respond to that militarily.
 
2011-01-02 01:10:29 PM  

GoteamVenture: but we win right?


If we manage to hit the Internet Cafe with a particle beam, yes.
 
2011-01-02 01:11:33 PM  

General Vayo: //Also, we're going to be deploying railguns on our next major destroyer class. Seriously, RAILGUNS. Fark your ballistic missiles.


Meh. Wake me up when we have fusion powered quadrotor craft with plasma discharge weapons.

And a space based kinetic weapon called The Fist of God or some hardcore shiat.
 
2011-01-02 01:11:43 PM  

General Vayo: I sincerely doubt that. Especially after you attack one of our carrier groups and two allies: in this article, Taiwan and Japan. Republicans would have riots and be hung if they didn't respond to that militarily.


sometimes I really do wonder who the Republicans are working for...i'm not saying they WOULD just look the other way, but there's enough there to make me wonder if the Republicans might not hope for a wee bit of death and destruction to happen on Obama's watch just so they can get a 10 point bump in the next opinion poll.
 
2011-01-02 01:12:25 PM  

Fano: GoteamVenture: but we win right?

If we manage to hit the Internet Cafe with a particle beam, yes.


I prefer to bomb it instead and then have the Pathfinders snipe the hackers.

RUN WHILE YOU CAN FAT LITTLE CHINESE NERDS, YOU'LL JUST DIE TIRED.
 
2011-01-02 01:12:31 PM  
Star Trek already covered this with the Yangs and the Coms (new window).
 
2011-01-02 01:14:29 PM  
Not even close. The US wouldn't play a defensive war.... trying to physically protect Taiwan isn't winnable. As soon as the missiles start flying Three Gorges Dam is gone, major power plants are down and we start high altitude carpet-bombing against major cities and letting the MOAB loose.
 
2011-01-02 01:15:28 PM  
I like the "no reliable defense" in reference to anti-carrier missiles.
The reliable defense is that we'll likely spit a nuke after whoever sinks our ships (and don't pretend as if anyone who just lost a few thousand soldiers in one day wouldn't consider that option).

The problem in a modern war between two super power sized nations is that there will be no way to contain it as a conventional war. Whoever comes to the realization that they wont win, first, will be the one that resorts to nuclear weapons.

In the end the Chinese can live with an independent Taiwan as much as we can live without it, so there is no real benefit to a war.
 
2011-01-02 01:15:58 PM  
Problem:
"Five [missles] detonate in orbit, shredding American communication and imaging satellites."....."Some of the [Chinese] GPS-guided warheads contain bomblets that crater the base's two runways."
So America has forgotten or ignored Chinese satellites in this scenario?

Problem:
"An army of hackers operating throughout China swarms the base's networks, tying up communications with gibberish and cluttering the digital screens of radar operators" but American commanders still feel being tied into public communications networks is helping their effort and don't cut the network and recover critical systems from backups? Where's the American offensive hacking force at this point? Why do lines coming out of China still even operate?

If you want a good story you don't need to have the US win at the end and if you want a realistic one you must show China operating with it's full capabilities and competence but "oh no we can't stop them and have no defenses, they're going to get us" is wildly unrealistic.
 
2011-01-02 01:16:09 PM  

astrotri: FTFA: "But China's goal was never to trigger an extended, costly, bloody contest of superpowers."

Bad news: an unprovoked attack on Taiwan that involves an unprovoked attack on the Nimitz Group won't end any other way. America won't take their ball and just go home.


America does have a tendency to react poorly to having its carriers attacked. They're not the type to say 'Aw shucks, now that you bloodied my nose I see I shouldn't get in on your scrap!' before heading back to bury their sailors and repaint their hulls.

They'll see it as throwing down the gauntlet in a very unambiguous way, and quite frankly America has been itching for a nice clear-cut conflict to kick some ass in.
 
2011-01-02 01:16:55 PM  
Ramp up the fear level in dimwitted americans who know nothing about the area and couldn't find either country on a map even if they had big arrows pointing at them.
 
2011-01-02 01:18:15 PM  
I wonder how many US government contractors outsource production to China?
 
2011-01-02 01:20:29 PM  

Weaver95: I wonder how many US government contractors outsource production to China?


Technically, none of them do it specifically; however many contracts use off-the-shelf components that are made in China.
 
2011-01-02 01:21:12 PM  

General Vayo: I sincerely doubt that. Especially after you attack one of our carrier groups and two allies: in this article, Taiwan and Japan. Republicans would have riots and be hung if they didn't respond to that militarily.


Plus if they really did launch a full scale attack on a carrier group, that's basically attacking a US City at Sea. If we fought them off, we'd retaliate on principle, and if they managed to destroy it they'd have created thousands and thousands of American martyrs. There's between four and six thousand people on a Carrier at any given time, and probably two or three thousand more spread across the rest of the support ships.

Would we ever really let that go?
 
2011-01-02 01:23:10 PM  
... I go all the way down the page and I only see one Fallout picture reference?

For shame, Fark, for shame.
 
2011-01-02 01:24:02 PM  

Dalrint: Would we ever really let that go?


I think the Republicans would use such an event as political fodder for the next election cycle. they'd feed off the deaths of US servicemen and women, spin the event to make Obama look weak and ineffectual. wave the flag, beat the war drums, and the hell with the consequences.
 
2011-01-02 01:27:35 PM  
A war between the US and China, you say?

farm4.static.flickr.com

/War. War never changes.
 
2011-01-02 01:29:56 PM  

Weaver95: we're already over-extended in the middle east. if China really wants taiwan they're going to get it. it'll hurt 'em, and probably quite a lot. And they won't take the island intact either...but if china is willing to pay a very high cost in blood then they'll take that island and nobody can really do much about it.


They won't take it by force at all. They'd need to attack American satellites, and that's easily confused for an overture to nuclear war so the response is nuclear exchange. China would lose that FAR worse than the United States would.

Not to mention all the nuclear material Taiwan has itself, in 1992 the CIA gutted the Taiwanese nuclear program, but to make an atomic weapon just isn't that hard. They'd easily be able to make a device they could have confidence in without testing.
 
2011-01-02 01:30:05 PM  

MisterBill: Weaver95: I wonder how many US government contractors outsource production to China?

Technically, none of them do it specifically; however many contracts use off-the-shelf components that are made in China.


so basically we'd have about maybe...hmm...six months of supplies on hand before shortages would start? I wonder if China would begin prepping for the war by slowing down delivery of key components to military systems/suppliers and/or finding a way to seed defective or tainted parts into the supply system?
 
2011-01-02 01:30:22 PM  

JericoPaladin: A war between the US and China, you say?

/War. War never changes.


This man has the right idea.
 
2011-01-02 01:30:31 PM  

Weaver95: I think the Republicans would use such an event as political fodder for the next election cycle. they'd feed off the deaths of US servicemen and women, spin the event to make Obama look weak and ineffectual. wave the flag, beat the war drums, and the hell with the consequences.


I don't know. You'd be talking about the casualty count equivolent to three 9/11's, but with an easily identified villain. No wondering about it, no hunting, no 'maybe this is the wrong country.'

I don't think either side would be able to play it off, politically. Immediately after 9/11, even hippie commie pinko's like myself were behind going into Afghanistan. If a politician tried to downplay this, they'd be attacked by everyone.
 
2011-01-02 01:31:49 PM  

Dalrint: Weaver95: I think the Republicans would use such an event as political fodder for the next election cycle. they'd feed off the deaths of US servicemen and women, spin the event to make Obama look weak and ineffectual. wave the flag, beat the war drums, and the hell with the consequences.

I don't know. You'd be talking about the casualty count equivolent to three 9/11's, but with an easily identified villain. No wondering about it, no hunting, no 'maybe this is the wrong country.'

I don't think either side would be able to play it off, politically. Immediately after 9/11, even hippie commie pinko's like myself were behind going into Afghanistan. If a politician tried to downplay this, they'd be attacked by everyone.


maybe instead of downplaying it, the Republicans would twist it to their own uses.
 
2011-01-02 01:32:06 PM  
How about a world where we get along and move into space instead of fighting over a damn ball of dirt?

We already know what war looks like, we've known for the entire history of our species. How about we try something new?


War!

Huh. Good God y'all.

What is it good for?
 
2011-01-02 01:32:39 PM  
If Tom Clancy wrote this it would end with China utterly defeated thanks to US spunk and good ol' American knowhow while the Chinese population rise up and kill their "communist" (yeah, right) overlords and hoist the star-spangled banner.

The last book of his I read, I don't remember the title, had a tiny US force conquering Iraq and Iran on its own. At which point I realised he had descended into mania and closed the book. That one where evil environmentalists plot to kill everyone on Earth was a doozy too. He is a foaming right-wing madman.
 
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