The Biden administration's military and security policy toward China: continuation and change
Chung Jae-hung, Lee Dongmin
Research Fellow, Visiting Research Fellow,
The Sejong Institute
○ The Biden administration's military and security policy toward China is expected to continue and change in two aspects. First, the Biden administration is expected to strengthen the Trump administration’s trade policy and control technology leakage in order to maintain the superiority of advanced military technology of the U.S. It is expected to independently conduct research and development of advanced technology.
○ Second, it will drastically change the Trump administration's nuclear strategy, which has been promoted against China’s military rise that could pose a potential threat in the future, and pursue strategic stability.
○ The continuation and change of the U.S. military-security policy toward China will raise fundamental questions. To South Korea, it raises concerns about the direction of the future strategy.
○ Xi Jinping is promoting a military-private fusion policy to strengthen the high-tech military-private technology and is rapidly promoting it as a national strategy.
○ The Biden administration inherited the Trump administration's responsive strategy toward China. It is adhering to the strategy to neutralize the economic and industrial value chain linked to China's defense industry.
○ Currently, the U.S. is trying to strengthen its own defense conversion policy and gain military superiority over China through the U.S. Department of Defense.
○ The Trump administration promoted the strengthening of aging nuclear weapons through its defense policy It also began to reduce the volume and weight of nuclear weapons through low yield production. ○ The change in the U.S. military and security policy is due to China's strengthening of its missile capabilities. China has been quietly strengthening its nuclear capabilities through military innovation and securing anti-contact zone rejection (A2AD) capabilities.
○ As mentioned in the ‘Interim National Security Strategic Guidance’ signed by President Biden, the Biden administration made it clear at home and abroad that it will eliminate the global arms race and reduce nuclear weapons in its national security strategy.
■ China’s dream of modernizing and strengthening its army
○ A decision was made during the 5th plenary session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee of October 2020 that the Chinese military will be modernized by 2027, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the military. China began implementing measures to achieve national prosperity and military power.
○ Through Yanghui (兩會) of 2021, Xi emphasized the importance of the dream of a strong Chinese army and announced the defense budget as 1.3553 trillion yuan (about 240 trillion won), up 6.8% from that of the previous year.
○ China’s defense expenditure reflected first, replacing aging weapons; second, improving the welfare of the Chinese military; third, responding to U.S. military and security challenges and modernizing the military; fourth, researching and developing investment in advanced military science and technology.
○ Currently, the Chinese military is rapidly applying cutting-edge science technology such as artificial intelligence, quantum information, big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things to military fields. It is approaching the stage of intelligence with the arrival of new scientific and technological innovations and the 4th Industrial Revolution.
○ The Chinese military is planning a reform schedule to modernize the basic military power by 2027 and to achieve basic level of modernization (mechanization and information technology) by 2035. China is expected to have a high level of combat power in the mid-2020s (2025-2027).
■ South Korea’s strategic choice
○ First, South Korea must actively utilize the multilateral diplomatic framework to seek stability in the region and promote a multilateral dialogue channel to communicate and avoid military conflict between the U.S. and China.
○ Second, instead of deploying offensive strategic assets such as intermediate-range missiles on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea must persuade its ally, the U.S., to strengthen South Korea’s military capabilities and lay the foundation for promoting internal balance against China on its own.
○ Third, since Xi Jinping's policies are changing aggressively, South Korea must cope with each issue flexibly based on accurate internal and external information and strategic judgment.
※ This article is written based on the author’s personal opinions and does not reflect the views of the Sejong Institute.
※ This is a third party's unofficial translation of the original paper which was written in Korean. All references should be made to the original paper.