Which is the biggest threat: China or Russia?

The Chinese military was passing around a document–that was leaked to Japan–that described Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan to strengthen the military, overtake the US and expand beyond China’s borders.

While we bicker over who-knew-and-did-what in the 2016 election, Russian agents used a banned chemical substance to poison two spies–again. They did this in March, and then again in June. Of course, President Putin denies it. He denies election interference. He denied Crimea. Doping in the Olympics.

China wants to be better than us economically and militarily, and they want to be the global powerhouse. Russia doesn’t like capitalism and democracy, and they aim to defeat it.

We’re talking about Russia a lot these days. But are they our biggest threat?

Let’s take a look.

In 2018, Russia is our primary concern.

Russia spy poisonings

The leaders of the United States, France, Germany and Canada officially supported the British assessment that a nerve-agent attack on their soil was conducted by the Russian military with the knowledge and consent of the Russian government.

A British diplomat told the UN Security Council that the nerve agent attack was a “direct challenge” to the “rules-based international system that has kept all of us safe since 1945.”

Russia denied any involvement.

Russian interference in U.S. elections

Microsoft reports that hackers tied to the Russian military have already targeted at least three candidates running for election in 2018.

Also, the Russian company that was largely responsible for the spread of misinformation in the 2016 election has launched a new U.S. website ahead of the November midterms.

Syria

Russia joined forces with Bashar Al-Assad, who has used chemical weapons on his own people in order to suppress his dissenters. Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution to end the Syrian Civil War, Russian troops bombed anti-Assad forces and, recently, they’re accused of attacking U.S. forces in Syria.

China is our biggest threat.

economic

A glimpse at the plan China has laid out includes the following:

China’s Belt And Road Initiative is a trillion-dollar project meant to connect countries in order to open up trade.

The plan involves creating a sea route that connects China to South East Asia, Oceania and North Africa, and railway and road infrastructure to connect China with Central and West Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The rail lines to Europe allow goods to bypass U.S.-controlled sea lanes.

China is also financing the construction of ports in the Indian Ocean region, including in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Pakistan, Burma, Djibouti, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.

And, China has invested $13.6 billion in Greece, buying control of a huge port and big shares of Greek utilities and fiber-optics companies.

students

There are about 350,000 students that come from China to the U.S. every year to study. Most are legitimate, but plenty are not, and are working on behalf of the government in order to obtain research from universities.

power of authoritarianism

China has expressed that it will allow greater participation in political decisions from its population if and when it is helpful to the country’s national interest.

They also have expressed that it will end those freedoms if the needs of the nation changed. A recent example: In the 1980s the country was given more opportunity to participate in their politics, which ultimately lead to a rebellion at Tiananmen Square.

The uprising was squelched. The government became more authoritative and controlling.

Since Xi Jinping became president in 2013 the rule of law has resulted in the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of people suspected of speaking out against the government. He has increased internet controls and surveillance. China is 176 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, and was “the world’s worst jailer of the press” for the second year in a row, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Xi also immediately went to work consolidating his power, including this year when he orchestrated the revision of the constitution to abolish term limits. Xi can now serve for life.

military

The Chinese government hacked into the computers of a U.S. Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data on undersea warfare that included secret plans to develop an anti-ship missile U.S. submarines by 2020.

The Chinese government acts like it owns the South China Sea, even though it doesn’t.  This provocative behavior has led to increasing tension in the area. Geek out on a little history of the water dispute.

Last year, the Chinese Navy became the world’s largest, with more warships and submarines than the United States, and it continues to build new ships at a stunning rate. Though the American fleet is qualitatively better, it is spread much thinner as it is the international police for waterways.

Xi shifted the military’s focus to its navy, but also worked on air and strategic rocket forces, while cutting out corrupt and reducing traditional land forces.

Since 2015, the army cut 300,000 enlisted soldiers and officers. The Chinese military is now a trim two million personnel, compared with 1.4 million in the United States.

cyber

The U.S. Department of Defense reports that U.S. government computer systems continue to be the targets of China-based intrusions, including the extraction of information (i.e. stealing) from networks. China targets U.S. diplomatic, economic and the defense sectors.

energy

Renewable energy is inevitable, and countries that dominate these markets will be able to influence or control the energy future. 

President Xi Jinping has already called for a “green shift” by aggressively transitioning to alternative energies. Today, five of the world’s six top solar manufacturers, five of the largest wind turbine producers, and six of the ten electric car manufacturers are all Chinese. China is dominant in owning lithium (for batteries). They are also investing in smart grids and other renewable energy technologies. 

In the meantime, the U.S. is stuck in a debate over whether or not climate change is real.

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