A US think tank report which envisions surprise attacks from China and Russia in "the return of great power competition" shows that some US elites have miscalculated China's strategic intentions, analysts said.
The report of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) was released on Tuesday. It covers multiple possible "surprises" launched by Beijing and Moscow in strategic, diplomatic, military and technologic areas, such as an attack by Beijing on Taiwan; "China attacks Vietnam"; "Panama declares neutrality in US-China conflict," and even includes "decapitation of US leadership."
This kind of simulation or analysis is nothing new at all for US think tanks or intelligence agencies, but it usually won't go public, said Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. "Since the CSIS made it public, it shows that US elites accept 'the return of great power competition,' and also reflects Western anxiety over the global power transition."
The Trump administration said in its National Security Strategy released in December 2017 that "great power competition has returned" and clearly identified China and Russia as its "competitors."
Unfortunately, it also shows that some US elites and scholars can only use the "Cold War mentality" to analyze China's national intentions and get the wrong answer, due to the lack of understanding of China's characteristics and culture, Diao said.
The title of the report is "Coping with Surprise in Great Power Conflicts" written by Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the CSIS International Security Program. The report's cover page shows the sinking of US vessels at Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attack during the World War II.
Taiwan has become a hot-button issue for US think tanks on Asia-Pacific security. Aside from the CSIS report, US Congressman Ted Yoho said at a workshop held by a Washington-based think tank Project 2049 Institute on February 14 that "[US] Congress will never allow Taiwan to be used as a 'bargaining chip' in some grand geopolitical arrangement."
"This is ridiculous and hilarious. The US is the country which has always wanted to use Taiwan as a 'bargaining chip' when dealing with the Chinese mainland, and the Taiwan Question is related to sovereignty, which is totally nonnegotiable for China," said Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday.
'Detached from reality'
Cancian said in the report that "It is not an attempt to project the future. Rather, it seeks to do the opposite: explore the range of possible future conflicts to see where surprises might lurk."
US think tanks like the CSIS and the RAND Corporation have always conducted research or analysis which touches on the most extreme phenomenon, so it is not very surprising for us, but making it public is meant to deter its rivals, said An Gang, a member of the academic committee at the Pangoal Institution, a Beijing-based think tank.
"CSIS probably wants to use shocking cases to show its presence in the US strategic circle and attract attention. However, its imagination is extreme and detached from reality, so it might have a negative impact on its reputation and credibility," Li added.
China should not be affected by how the US thinks, Diao said. "A great power needs to act accordingly. We need to firmly stick to the right track of our development and not care too much about what the US elites fear or worry about."
"At the same time, China needs to try its best to avoid other countries' concerns and miscalculations. When other countries stop worrying and the US remains the only country which miscalculates China, then it would be the US' problem," Diao said.