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The US–China Naval Balance in the Asia-Pacific: An Overview

  • Lyle Goldstein (a1)


A truism in strategic studies holds that warfare is highly complex and unpredictable. What appears to be a stable and predictable military balance can be suddenly overthrown by innovative doctrines or cunning strategies. This paper attempts to fill a perceived gap in strategic studies analysis with respect to US–China naval conflict scenarios. The author is concerned that most Western analyses on the subject tend to be simplistic and unduly optimistic. The approach in this paper follows a “Chinese style” in that it examines the Asia-Pacific strategic balance as a series of interacting military campaigns. The results of the analysis yield that the US retains a strong advantage in certain warfare domains, to be sure. Yet, the assumption that the US military has a decisive advantage in the relevant scenarios becomes dubious in light of the potentially devastating blow against US and allied bases that could be made by PLA conventional missile forces. Moreover, a Chinese advantage in the use of offensive mine warfare, when combined with China's ability to prevent US and allied aerial anti-submarine forces from flying, could combine to roll back, or at least significantly limit, Washington's heretofore decisive undersea advantage.

在战略理论而言, 战争的进程是非常复杂和不可预测的。一个似乎稳定和可预测的军事平衡能突然被创新军事教义或灵巧的策略推翻。本文试图填补中美海上军事冲突的战略研究。作者认为, 大多数西方分析人对这个问题的判断往往是简单或过于乐观的。本文采用“中国式”方式将亚太战略平衡作为一系列相互影响的军事行动。 分析结果表明, 美国在某些战争领域仍然保留强大的优势。然而,鉴于中国常规导弹可能造成对美国与盟国的潜在破坏性打击,美军在有关情况下具有所谓决定性优势的假设存有相当多的疑点。 此外,解放军在使用进攻性水雷战争方面的优势,与中国在防止美国和盟军在空中反潜部队飞行的能力,也有望被结合起来对抗美国军事实力,或至少大大削减美军水下作战的决定性优势。 在这种情况下,中美海军对抗的最终结果似乎还是一个未知数。



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