Derek Grossman, The Diplomat: Vietnam Is the Chinese Military’s Preferred Warm-Up Fight
At some point, the Chinese military will need to test its new capabilities – and Vietnam is likely the preferred adversary.
In mid-April, China conducted a series of fresh military flights through the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait, on the south and north ends of Taiwan, respectively. As has been the case many times in the past, these new activities were clearly meant to signal Beijing’s resolve to resort to force against the island and its U.S. and allied defenders if necessary. But there is another, less often discussed reason for these drills. Repeated transits through the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait offer the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) the opportunity to train over future potential battlefields.
Indeed, practice makes perfect. And this is especially true when the PLA is playing from behind. During his address to the 19th Party Congress in October 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the PLA “to be fully transformed into world-class forces” by 2050. An apparent reference to reaching on par status with U.S. forces, “world-class forces” would be nearly impossible to achieve without realistic training. According to a recent analysis by long-time PLA watcher Dennis Blasko, the PLA has been highly critical of its warfighting capabilities internally and even, to some extent, publicly. These shortcomings prompted Xi this year to order the PLA to engage in intensive rounds of realistic combat training scenarios.
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WNU Editor: The Germans did the same thing before invading Poland in 1939. They tested the political and military resolve of the West when they moved military forces in the Rhineland in 1936, followed by the takeover of Austria and the Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1938.Vietnam has no formal security alliances. They are alone, and will not be able to call on other countries to assist them if their maritime border dispute with China becomes a military one.