Just when you thought that 2020 could not get worse, a new report submitted to Congress titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020” paints a grim picture of the new reality we face against a monster largely created and enabled by decades worth of American foreign policy and national security failures.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in China has been allowed to grow into arguably the most powerful military force in the world by some metrics, and when you consider the economic edge the Chinese hold over the U.S., it is clear that the days of undisputed American dominance are sitting in our rear view mirror.
Among the more concerning developments articulated in the report are these three key areas where the People’s Republic of China’s military currently holds a complete or arguable advantage over the United States:
• China now has the largest navy in the world. It boasts an overall fleet of approximately 350 ships and submarines, which includes more than 130 major surface vessels. Comparatively speaking, the U.S. Navy fleet stands at approximately 293 ships as of the beginning of 2020.
• China owns more than 1,250 ground-launched ballistic missiles (GLBM) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM) that have a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The U.S. currently has only one type of conventional GLBM with a range of only 70-300 kilometers and currently has no GLCMs.
• China also has one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems. This includes Russian-built S-400s, S-300s, and domestically produced systems that illustrate its robust integrated air-defense-system architecture.
Over the past several years, China’s philosophy has been one that has placed an emphasis on mass production over quality, with the logic being that the sheer numbers they can produce will be enough to overwhelm any competitors.
It is because of these developments that we need to ensure for both the safety of our nation and global stability that the Jones Act, which is often decried as either a vehicle for protectionism or an out-of-touch relic from America’s past, should be preserved for several reasons.
First and foremost quality. While China may currently have the ability to outproduce the U.S. shipbuilding industry in terms of the needed raw materials and parts, as we move toward keeping up with the frenetic Chinese pace, the Jones Act ensures that all goods transported by water between American ports be carried on ships constructed in the United States, owned by American citizens and crewed by either U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
That means that regardless of what may be going on half a world away, the United States will always be forced to maintain a shipbuilding industry that can supply higher quality support and materials to the U.S. Navy, rather than forcing it to rely on lesser-quality foreign alternatives.
Secondly, the Jones Act mandates that the United States at least maintains an established U.S. merchant marine force of skilled seamen as well as a fleet of U.S. flagged ships capable of serving as an auxiliary Navy in war time or in the event of a national emergency. This speaks directly to the security of the vast American shorelines, as these ships provide a direct line of defense against enemy infiltration via the ocean.
Lastly, the most practical argument is the economic one. We have surrendered enough American industry to the “Red Dragon.” The Jones Act helps America maintain an industry that, according to estimates from The Foundation of the U.S. Domestic Maritime Industry, directly contributes $100 billion to the economy, including a staggering $29 billion in yearly wages, and is responsible for 500,000 jobs.
Over the past three-plus years, President Trump’s detractors have called out portions of his China Doctrine as protectionism. But, with the uncertainty surrounding the future of U.S.-Sino relations, especially as we look toward our future in the post-COVID-19 world, we must take heed to the fact that dependence on our frenemy China can potentially have catastrophic effects on America.
• Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the editorial director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist.
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