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China Is Preparing To Go To War

China expert Gordon Chang makes the case that China is preparing for armed conflict – and could happen quite soon.

China Nuclear Missiles
Image: Chinese Internet.

Last month, a Chinese entrepreneur making medical equipment for consumers told me that local officials had demanded he convert his production lines in China so that they could turn out items for the military. Communist Party cadres, he said, were issuing similar orders to other manufacturers.

Moreover, Chinese academics privately say the ongoing expulsion of foreign colleagues from China’s universities appears to be a preparation for hostilities.

The People’s Republic of China is preparing to go to war, and it is not trying to hide its efforts. Amendments to the National Defense Law, effective the first day of last year, transfer powers from civilian to military officials.

In general, the amendments reduce the role of the central government’s State Council by shifting power to the CMC, the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. Specifically, the State Council will no longer supervise the mobilization of the People’s Liberation Army.

As Zeng Zhiping of Soochow University told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post,

“The CMC is now formally in charge of making national defense policy and principles, while the State Council becomes a mere implementing agency to provide support for the military.”

In one sense, these amendments were window dressing. “Recent changes to China’s National Defense Law that diminish the power of the State Council are largely political posturing,” Richard Fisher of the Virginia-based International Assessment and Strategy Center told me soon after the amendments went into effect. “The Chinese Communist Party and particularly its subordinate CMC have always held supreme power over decisions regarding war and peace.”

Why then do we care about the National Defense Law amendments?

The amendments, Fisher tells us, “point to China’s ambition to achieve ‘whole nation’ levels of military mobilization to fight wars and give the CMC formal power to control the future Chinese capabilities for global military intervention.”

“The revised National Defense Law also embodies the concept that everyone should be involved in national defense,” reports the Communist Party’s Global Times, summarizing the words of an unnamed CMC official. “All national organizations, armed forces, political parties, civil groups, enterprises, social organizations, and other organizations should support and take part in the development of national defense, fulfill national defense duties, and carry out national defense missions according to the law.”

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As Fisher told 19FortyFive this month, “For the past 40 years, China’s Communist Party has been preparing for brutal war, and now the ruling organization is accelerating its plans.”

The Party, as it readies itself for combat, is leaving nothing to chance. In March, its Central Organization Department issued an internal directive prohibiting the spouses and children of ministerial-level officials from owning foreign real estate or shares registered offshore. The ban also appears to apply to such officials themselves as there are reports of their selling foreign assets. Moreover, such officials and immediate families are not, except in limited circumstances, allowed to open accounts overseas with financial institutions.

The directive, issued soon after the imposition of sanctions on Russian officials for the “special military operation” in Ukraine, appears designed to sanction-proof Chinese officials.

China's Air Force

J-10 Fighter.

Moreover, the central government is trying to sanctions-proof itself. On April 22, officials from the finance ministry and central bank met with representatives of dozens of banks, including HSBC, to discuss what Beijing could do in the event of the imposition of punitive measures on China.

The holding of the “emergency meeting,” reported by the Financial Times, is ominous. “The officials and attendees did not mention specific scenarios, but one possible trigger for such sanctions is thought to be a Chinese invasion of Taiwan,” the FT noted. The fact that Chinese officials held the meeting is a clear indication that Beijing is planning belligerent acts.

“Be ready for battle.” That’s how Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post summarized Chinese ruler Xi Jinping’s first order to the military of 2019. In January of that year, he gave a major speech to the CMC on making preparations for war, and the address was then broadcast nationwide.

Foreign analysts debate whether China is going to war anytime soon. The Chinese political system has become less transparent over time, so it is not clear what senior leaders are thinking.

Pentagon China Report

Image of J-20 fighter. Image Credit: Chinese Internet.

Yet it is clear what senior leaders are in fact doing. They are getting troops ready for another advance below the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, preparing to seize more Indian territory in the Himalayas. They renewed, in November of last year and this June, attempts to block the resupply of a Philippine outpost at Second Thomas Shoal, in the South China Sea. They ordered four vessels to enter Japan’s sovereign water around the disputed but Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in late July. They are directing continual provocations around Taiwan, including a violation of the island’s sovereign airspace in early February.

And there is something else that is unmistakable: Xi and senior leaders are getting China’s citizens ready for war.

A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. Follow him on Twitter @GordonGChang

Written By

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War and Losing South Korea, booklets released by Encounter Books. His previous books are Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World and The Coming Collapse of China, both from Random House. Chang lived and worked in China and Hong Kong for almost two decades, most recently in Shanghai, as Counsel to the American law firm Paul Weiss and earlier in Hong Kong as Partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. W Rau

    August 19, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    About that dam..,,

  2. Andrew Jones

    August 19, 2022 at 6:31 pm

    Is their plan “tick off all our powerful regional competitors on the way to ticking off the worlds largest naval power”? If that’s the start of a war plan, I’m not “everyone” is a very good war target. Makes me wonder if there’s something else going on, or that the provocations have utility other than probes of potential war participants.

  3. Paddy Manning

    August 19, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    Does Xi see war as his only way to hold on to power? Invasion of Taiwan would be costly in men, weapons and economic fall out. Would Xi survive that crash?

  4. Dian jen

    August 19, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Golden Chang is not a Chinese expert. He is a Chinese hater, specialized in spearing China and stirring up hate trouble.

  5. pagar

    August 19, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    US and deep state apparatus hell-bent on pursuing a one-world government even it entails ruinous all-out war with china.

    This all-out war is planned and hatched by US & biden, not china. It’s just a trap, like how japan cleverly trapped china one hundred years ago. Starting with 21 demands….

  6. Newt

    August 19, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    All speculations.

  7. Eastcapirie

    August 19, 2022 at 8:43 pm

    I wonder is there any other area where someone has been constantly and categorically wrong for well over 20 years can still be called “expert” ? Obviously only in china bashing business.

  8. Steven

    August 19, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    A war would last 1 month. Our subs would strangle them.

  9. Kenneth Felton

    August 19, 2022 at 10:00 pm

    Great article. Many people think China will allow itself to be destroyed economically. But history tells us nations start wars to counter their problems at home. And China has no one to worry about. They know the globalists won’t put up a fight.

  10. Marc

    August 19, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    Speaking of pagar’s demands, Beijing made fourteen demands of Canberra. By your logic, are those also a trap? Or are they merely Xi and his cronies in Beijing trying to cow Australia, a ploy that has already failed?

  11. David Chang

    August 20, 2022 at 12:59 am

    God bless people in the world.

    Yes, Democratic Party has destroyed the entire defense program.

    They make socialism war in China, and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are in danger.

    I hope all people will never believe atheism.

    I hope all people trust God, obey Ten Commandments, and stop socialism war.

    one China under God.

    God bless America and China.

  12. Yrral

    August 20, 2022 at 2:59 am

    Chang has association with the Unification church, making any he say questionable,unless you are affiliated with the Unification church

  13. bob

    August 20, 2022 at 5:56 am

    China is preparing for war, look at how their country is right next to all the army bases we’ve installed!

    Which country has spent the last 20 years murdering civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan? Which country tried a false flag attack on oil tankers to try to justify an attack on Iran? Which country wanted to invade Venezuela to install a dictatorship over oil?

    Of course, the final point is, so what? What’s that old say, if you want peace, prepare for war?

    China has been “about to collapse” for 50 years. China has been “preparing for war” for 50 years.

    Pick one.

  14. Jim

    August 20, 2022 at 8:30 am

    I do agree China is building its military capacity.

    China is ready to go to war over Taiwan should the U. S. explicitly repudiate the One China policy.

    China has directly and indefatigably stated they will go to war over Taiwan (we should listen).

    But is China planning war willy nilly?

    No.

  15. Francis Maikisch

    August 20, 2022 at 9:04 am

    Chang has been wrong on China too many times. He wrote “The Coming Collapse of Communist China ” years ago. Was it an open ended prediction? Lol.

  16. CST

    August 20, 2022 at 9:34 am

    Clickbait

  17. Donald Link

    August 20, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    I note that the trolls are out in force. Would seem to indicate a certain amount of insecurity on the mainland. Of course that also means the possibility of foolish reactions along with a certain amount of nervousness on the part of those of all stripes that see no need for conflict and indeed do quite well under the present arrangement.

  18. Jacksonian Libertarian

    August 20, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    The Strategist in me wants to see the Communists try to take Taiwan. All the changes in the modern battlefield, hinted at in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Would be on full display/combat testing in a Chinese attack on Taiwan. The “mature precision strike regime” makes much of the Communist order of battle obsolete. And seeing just how badly obsolete these weapons are is of great interest.

    It’s not just the demonstrated obsolescence in weapons that’s of interest. It’s also Taiwan’s strategic position (1,200+ anti-ship missiles ranging the entire China sea) to impose a blockade on all of China’s ports. And cut 98% of China’s foreign trade, which is responsible for 40% of China’s GDP. When combined with China’s trillion dollar losses in Real Estate, Capital flight, and covid lockdowns, China’s economy would be cut in half. Seeing this demonstrated or disabused is also of great interest.

    In any case both the Ukrainian and Taiwan conflicts don’t put many western troops at risk as long as obsolete western weapon systems keep their distance.

  19. abraham lincoln

    August 20, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    Chang declared that the CCP would be thrown out in 2005 or thereabouts. He wrote a book on that. So when it did not happen, I wrote Gordon Chang off. However, he could not have known that the US would begin supporting China in every way right around the time he declared that the CCP would fail. First Bush began treating China nicely, then Obama made it impossible for China to fail. So Chang was wrong, but only because the US government began propping up the evil Chinese regime. China is now preparing for war. Or, they want to bluff Joe Biden into backing down. China itself has started to implode. Their economy shows signs of weakening. Once this happens in dictatorships such as China, often the only thing the dictators can do is start a war to divert the people’s attention away from the dictator’s failures. This is what always happens with dictatorships such as China. They will need a war to divert attention. The US had better be ready to go to war with China. They will be beaten in such a war, but there is no recourse.

  20. GhostTomahawk

    August 20, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    Let’s go over the check list

    No blue water navy
    Handful of “5th gen*” planes
    Dependent upon others for food
    Dependent upon others for fuel
    Army too big to feed
    Army too big to arm
    Army too big to move
    Military equipped with inferior reverse engineered soviet technology

    🤣😂😅😆😂🤣😅🤣😆🤣😂😅😆🤣😅

    Please. Get ready for war. Oooohkay!

  21. Joe Comment

    August 20, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    Jim: Have you read the Mainland’s recent White Paper on the Taiwan Question? It is a direct slap in the face to the people of Taiwan and reflects absolutely no realistic political strategy for peaceful unification, while still insisting on unification. Then what else does it mean besides planning war willy nilly? Need me to cite chapter and verse of the Mainland’s official statements?

  22. Rich

    August 20, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    Any attempt to land a ground force on Taiwan would involve a massive mobilization and buildup/movement of hundreds of naval assets, >500 aircraft and at least 5 divisions of troops in martialing ports. And thats just for starters. Second wave and reserve forces would likely double that. This would take time, likely several weeks if not longer. Taiwan is a very large island. You’re not going to take and occupy Taiwan with 2 or 3 divisions. An invasion of this scale would more likely resemble the planned Operation Olympic, the US invasion of Kyushu than it would Iwo Jima. When you notice that kind of buildup, let us know.

    If it wasn’t for China war porn, half the content on this site would vanish.

  23. Rich

    August 20, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    Funny how no one even considers/discusses the non-military path to defeat China. How about stop selling them America piece by piece. Stop relying on them for virtually every product consumed in America. Stop feeding them US technology. Stop being beholden to their money and investments in US. Shut off their markets and rebuild domestic production. We talk about going to war with them, yet we pump their economy by trillions allowing them to rapidly expand their armed forces and threaten our interests. What was the communist saying…”Stupid capitalists will sell the rope to hang themselves with”.

  24. sen3chal

    August 21, 2022 at 12:13 am

    They are preparing to destroy the USD’s reserve currency status through BRICS.

    They simply see war as the most likely response by the USA.

  25. Joe Comment

    August 21, 2022 at 5:44 am

    Rich: What you propose (complete shutdown of economic relationship with Mainland China) is very hard to execute without shooting ourselves in the foot, because China is in the WTO and is in the middle of many global supply chains. That means it would rapidly spill over and affect our economic relationships with third countries too. For example Chinese exporters legally can and do buy plants in Mexico to do some of the work there so the resulting products can be labelled as “Made in Mexico.” But yes, there are many more economic measures the US can take and I’m sure we’ll see more and more of these.

  26. R

    August 21, 2022 at 8:58 am

    Seems Chang hates China quite a bit, wrote collapse of China by 2011 etc. Definitely a shady guy, there must have been a miserable happening somewhere in his early childhood days relating to China.

  27. Rich

    August 21, 2022 at 11:07 am

    Joe: I fully understand that the status quo vis a vis China cannot be changed overnight. It also may not be 100% possible regardless of time. But we have been going down this road for decades and it will take decades to reverse. Yes, China has long tentacles and its presence has been invasive in other countries as well. But we have been willingly complicit in this because US business values cheap supply. The company I work for has shifted the majority of its manufacturing to both China and Mexico. Damn, we don’t even have a domestic semi-conductor business anymore…how dangerous is that? We’ve just gotten to the point where the easiest China solution is war…how insane!

  28. ofer desade

    August 22, 2022 at 7:17 am

    wouldnt it be funny, though, if all of this were not to jeopardize war with a major power like the US that they just may corner into reacting so they can occupy some useless island off their coast, but rather go for a place rich in resources, like Mongolia and jeopardize war with a disfunctional power so busy on the other side of the continent…

  29. Stefan Stackhouse

    August 22, 2022 at 9:02 am

    I am by no means a China apologist. However, it seems to me that preparing for war is always a prudent policy for any national government. More than a few governments have failed to do so, and have ended up regretting it – or worse.

  30. Frank Blangeard

    August 22, 2022 at 11:58 am

    Gordon Chang has zero credibility.

  31. Stephen Kennedy

    August 22, 2022 at 2:19 pm

    Minor movements around islands in the South China Sea, Japan’s Senkaku Islands and in the Himalayas look more like continuations of the border dispute activities that have been going on for decades rather than preparations for a full scale war with another country like India or Japan. China has nothing to gain from a full scale war with its major trading partners and an enormous amount to lose.

    The argument that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a harbinger of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is a very weak one. Russians have long thought of Ukraine as an important and integral part of the Russian nation. Taiwan has played no role in Chinese culture and history. Over much of the past 2,000 years, China has basically thought of Taiwan as a mere vassal state that sometimes paid tribute to China and at other times was seen as a foreign entity. From 1895 to 1945 Taiwan was a part of Japan. China’s main grievance against Taiwan since 1949 has been that the government in Taiwan claims to be the legitimate government of all of China. Gordon Chang continually claims that China is about to collapse or about to go to war. China will do neither; It is probably the oldest and most stable civilization in the world and has only gone to war when it had something to gain from it. Here is my prediction, if China ever starts a full scale war it will be against Russia to seize control of the Russian Far East.

  32. Stuart Dunstan-Shields

    August 23, 2022 at 3:19 am

    The Chinese economy is collapsing, the current lockdowns in the name of Covid are in fact the CCP’s attempts to stop runs on their banks, millions of Chinese citizens are rushing to withdraw their money as they watch the economy collapse. The CCP’s biggest fear is that the Chinese people will turn on them, their is much evidence that this is happening, so attacking Taiwan is a useful distraction that will help them rally the Chinese people behind the CCP again.

    The problem for the CCP is can they do it before the whole financial system collapses – the weather will close in by October and so they will likely have to leave any Taiwanese assault until the Spring, this may be too late to stop the Chinese people from turning on the CCP. Will will have to wait and pray for peace!

  33. Todd MichaeL Wiseman / ohio st univ

    August 23, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    Yes indeed, the full scale invasion is set for SEPT 11th now just 2 weeks away, with a massive scale of over 400,000 imperial commando troops, the rebel isle of taiwan will be taken within a month, as the rebels have little will to fight, the u.s. will clearly NOT intervene and cannot win as all the simulations war games have shown, this timing concurs with the final days prophecies of Nostradamus. the silly stunt of u.s. radicals visiting the isle has thus backfired proving once again the u.s. must stop sticking it’s nose in international matters that do NOT concern the avg voter

  34. WXi

    August 24, 2022 at 1:48 am

    The Chinese Christian community has already infiltrated all Chinese defense mechanisms and sabotaged them for the one true God. Soon they will have complete control over Chinese satellites and advanced AI. Christian oligarchs have secretly controlled China for three decades now. Xi is already defeated.

  35. Chett

    August 24, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    We should have turned that country into a sheet of glass long ago, long before Bill Clinton gave them ICBM targeting technology in exchange for campaign funding.

  36. Ayn

    August 24, 2022 at 3:56 pm

    The entire world is preparing for the next major conflict. Alliances are being cemented while we argue about gender pronouns. China is in Russia performing military exercises. India has joined BRICS which looks to be the new Warsaw Pact. Our academia and State Department don’t care because they want a more militant suppressive government worldwide. We are on track to give China the keys to our kingdom by letting them own the production of our renewable energy along with every other key industry. Western civilization is petering out.

  37. Fedup

    August 24, 2022 at 10:40 pm

    And. What’s different? The dems in control (and disgracefully far too many repubs) are fluffers for the CCP. We are being “governed” by literal traitors.

  38. Fedup

    August 24, 2022 at 10:57 pm

    And for the sake of argument, have any of Gordon Chang’s predictions ever borne fruit? He’s been predicting China’s imminent demise for so long now, that I’ve begun to suspect that he’s a China disinfo intel agent. Biden Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the CCP. Chang is less credible than Baghdad Bob at this point.

  39. Jim1937

    August 25, 2022 at 10:09 am

    Gordon Chan lived for years in the once free territory of Hong Kong and knows what of he speaks!

  40. Charles Ford

    August 25, 2022 at 4:27 pm

    Red China has been at war with America since stealing China in 1949 thanks to Soviet aid and Democrat party withdrawing American support. The only limitation has been opportunity and means. They now make Fentanyl in candies for consumption by American children and have beta tested their psycho weapons on their own people and more forcefully wit Tibetans and Uyghurs. North Korea has been their bitch in this process as well. They have transformed their economy into a fascist war driven sector in preparation for real war and have used their considerable softpower to weaken and divide the west. They are the big winners in the Ukraine war. Their demographics and corruption require unity through war. It is not surprising a Shanghai policeman told a resident that the CCCP is preparing for war.

  41. Steven

    September 12, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    No one ever mentions cyber warfare.

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