RAND: China could be stronger foe than Germany or Russia ever were
October 10th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

RAND: China could be stronger foe than Germany or Russia ever were

A new report from the research group RAND Corporation concludes that China's increasing economy and military advancement has it on a path that could potentially make it a greater foe to the United States than Russia or Germany ever were.  The report is sure to be a must-read for defense budget hawks everywhere.

The study, entitled Conflict with China, was done on behalf of the US Army. Before anyone gets too riled up, the authors note in the preface that "while the risk of conflict with China cannot be ignored, neither should it be exaggerated." Of course, that depends on the U.S. maintaining "the capacity to deter behavior that could lead to such a clash throughout this period."

The report details scenarios where a clash with China could be instigated including the collapse of North Korea, escalation over Taiwan and a cyber-warfare leading to real warfare.

The biggest damage to the United States in a conflict with China, short of a nuclear exchange, is  MAED (Mutual Assured Economic Destruction):

"Massive and mutual economic harm would indeed result from any significant Sino-U.S. armed conflict, even if the two sides eschewed employment of economic weapons, " according to the RAND study.  On the upside, because the two behemoth economies are so intertwined, the study authors suggest "this mutual dependency can be an immensely powerful deterrent."


Post by:
Filed under: China • Cybersecurity • North Korea
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. bob

    The only way that America and China would fight each other would be if something small snowballed out of controlled. aka North Korea does something stupid. They are really the only loose cannon that could screw things up. Also the Russians. Russia is kinda of on thin ice right now. One of Putins proxy wars could also spiral out of control and possible drag in larger allies. But I dont see any major power going against the other on purpose, just like with the other great wars, it would have to be something indirect that leads to something bigger.

    August 24, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  2. Kevin

    We could speak endlessly, about woulda, coulda, shoulda scenarios. What's the point of all of this.

    Spread fear and panic in the hopes that you will be hired on as a Consultant for an entity with deep (debt-ridden) pockets.

    It's pointless to even talk about worst-case scenario things that major countries could do to us, if they wanted to, when they don't show even the slightest intention of wanting to...unless you want to build a fortress all around you and never let anyone in.

    Just when you think you have it all figured-out, do you really think they're gonna attack you in the predictable manner, you predict?

    Why WOULD they attack the United States, when they own the United States economically, anyway? That would be like shooting themself in the face.

    This whole article is so utterly pointless, I don't even know where to begin

    November 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Reply
    • Please-do-your-research

      @kevin ... OMG .. I pray to the vodka gods your drunk! Becuase the US owes it's people debt more than china or any foreign force put together! Get with the protest BOY! ANd learn something about who our government owes!

      November 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Reply
    • Clinton

      The article is a what if. The people conducting the "what if" scenario is the US Military, who NEEDS to be prepared for anything. They are charged with defending this nation from all threats. They aren't proposing an invasion or a war or any of that, just analyzing what if's because it's a whole lot better to have a plan when the unthinkable happens than it is to be confused and not know what to do.
      Also – Your statements are stupid about the Chinese owning the US. The Chinese couldn't feed it's people without the breadbasket of America. Dumb people like yourself rarely do know things like this. Many country's, the Chinese with it's huge population in particular, NEED US farms to feed their population, without us, they starve... so our economy might hurt from a situation like this for a while... but American Families will eat... Chinese families will starve to death... the author of this article is correct when he says, it'd be mutually assured economic destruction. China holds our debt, what does that mean if we go to war? Nothing, think the US is going to pay China it's IOU's when we're at war? .... Another stupid assertion.

      November 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  3. don

    I don't know if you all know or this person who wrote this article. China has a so called alliance with Russia. Not many people write about this anymore. Funny thing is when Russia was communist, they were against China but now they are in an alliance with China.

    November 1, 2011 at 5:58 am | Reply
    • RobeOfTruth

      China and Russia are not military or economic allies. Stop living in the mid 20th century. Truth be told, American consumption and borrowing policies feed the Chinese economy. The Chinese prefer to adopt American practices of economic and political domination. 21st century wars will be fought without tanks and guns people. Welcome to cyber economic hedgemonies and silent wars.

      November 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  4. Frangible

    Sure, the great American-Sino war would destroy our economy, but has RAND ever heard of bottlecaps?

    October 30, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Reply
    • S

      I like you.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Reply
    • Clinton

      Frangible, i disagree with the Author in this article. Why people believe that we're so dependent on China for our economy is beyond me. China relies on us more-so than we rely on them. It's OUR businesses manufacturing products in their plants... it's our companies investing in that country... they don't own massive brands and they don't innovate and create new products... they replicate what we make and do it with cheap labor... you honestly think that'll last forever? If diplomatic tensions rise and it begins to cost companies more to build in china because of sanctions or whatever, do you really believe the Chinese economy could sustain American businesses pulling out? ... Nope, they'd be starving in weeks. China is a frail Giant built on a glass foundation, ripe for revolution... it only needs a spark.

      November 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  5. James Savik

    A great many politicians and military men see conflict with China as inevitable.

    October 28, 2011 at 11:51 am | Reply
    • Eddie

      RAND SPAND full of BS analysts!! I remember reading about a RAND report stating India could overtake China and we all know how that race turned out. ANALYSTS are wrong like everyone else. China has an asset and a curse with so many people. The quality of life in America will still be far superior for the masses of people for the next 50 years. We just have so much clean water and natural resources per person.

      November 2, 2011 at 12:19 am | Reply
    • Jaws7

      I think it already happened in Korea. The possibility of conflict is mostl likely providing
      support to another nation. Never a direct conflict. To expensive. War is profitable but
      but if it gets to big it becomes a drain. Probably will happen again in the Mid East. As
      the world and regional powers position themselves for control of the natural wealth of
      the Middle East. If it happens it will probably be the US at fault for getting to ambitious
      trying to control assests belonging to Iran.

      November 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  6. John K

    In a nation with few brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, aunt and uncles. When the little emperors come home in boxes, and the moms and dads as well as grandparents realize that not only is there legacy gone, but also their retirement plan. China just might lose its stomach for war.

    October 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Reply
    • R.C.

      That doesn't make much sense, John K. China has lost millions upon millions of people due to armed conflict within the past 2 centuries, I'm sure if a war broke out they could handle massive casualties psychologically much better than the U.S. The things holding them back if a war were ever to break out are their technology and ineffective leadership.

      October 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Reply
      • Mjumaga

        Inefectual leadership? Suppresses their currency, engages in state sponsored industrial espionage, has congress and the rest of corporate america eating out of their hands, they own 1.5 trillion in american debt, free trade agreement but no intelectual property protection or functioning court system, changes the rules on investors as it sees fit, prevents foreign influence in their country, and on and on and on...
        Inefectual? They make congress look like monkeys.

        October 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
      • Clinton

        Mjumaga – you're very uniformed or just simply stupid. Do you think it would matter if the Chinese held 80 trillion dollars in debt if a Chinese-US conflict errupted do you really believe we would pay that debt back? Dumb... very dumb... and people really don't understand the Economic situation either... these businesses that are making China all this money right now, are almost all US companies that have pushed their manufacturing plants over to China for cheap labor... you think those US Companies would hang around in China in the event of a Conflict? you're stupid... Not to mention, companies are already beginning to pull out of China since wages there have increased and the shoddy workmanship is beginning to cost more to repair than any profits made by utilizing cheap labor and cheap materials in China... in short... China is being used for it's cheap labor by the major powers of the world, it will not always be this way.. once big US businesses pull out in favor of either more suitable conditions back home, or another cheap labor source in say... India... China will fall flat again... it's bound to happen... China is a powder keg waiting to explode... it can't grow enough food to sustain it's own population... it cannot afford a conflict... the US on the other hand, is self sustaining other than Oil... which it's trying to move away from... You over estimate China's strength dude... and underestimate America

        November 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  7. paul1121

    I think it will be NATO US Russia vs. China and her little friends. I really dont think it has anything to do with nor will be some Muslim genocide; going up against China will be enough of a headache.

    Just like Nazi Germany, dont let those snappy uniforms fool you. Looks impressive to the peasants and sends a message of power that would intimidate the weak.

    October 26, 2011 at 5:02 am | Reply
  8. Mike Houston

    This Rand study isn't (judging by this CNN article) saying anything that isn't already known or
    acknowledged by any semi-literate person anywhere on Earth. Its pure speculative fear mongering.

    October 26, 2011 at 12:08 am | Reply
  9. Mike Houston

    "...Russia and China...would be great allies in purging the Muslims from the middle east."

    Unite, do you have any idea of the implications of what you just said? Do you really propose that anybody-ANYBODY-
    should "purge" Muslims from the middle east? Is it that you don't understand what the word "purge" means or is it that
    you don't know what the word "Muslim" means? I think you don't know what either means. What you just said is you
    think Russia, China, and some other country (presumably the U.S.A.) should join in a genocidal effort to rid the world of
    Muslims. Are you NUTS??!!!
    I do hope that as you grow up you learn something about the world.

    October 25, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  10. unite

    Pity Russia and China won't stop supporting N Korea and Iran, they would be great allies in purging the Muslims from the middle east. Seems in the next 50 years we will see WW3 with US NATO India vs Russia Iran China Pakistan N Korea

    October 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Reply
    • Allen

      More likely you're bound to see China invading Russia. The Chinese government does not recognize the Treaty of Aigun which gave the Amur watershed to Russia. China also has to deal with where to put it's population which continues to rise. Siberia is awfully tempting for China given how weak the Russian presence is.

      October 25, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.