When you first thought about changing the United States’ policy towards China, you probably instantly thought about trade. Thankfully, that’s not all we’ll be debating this year. There is actually a whole host of other topics that fall under this resolution, with one of the main issues being China’s military power.
Though in just the past 5 years China’s defense budget has risen by over 57 billion dollars, their military might isn’t found in the size of their spending. It instead comes from their specific capabilities and our interests in the region. There are the 3 main issues you need to understand when it comes to China’s military power and their threat to the United States:
- Anti-Satellite Missiles
In 2007, China conducted an anti-satellite missile test against a dummy orbiting satellite, which ended up creating tens of thousand of debris pieces that remained in space, threatening to smash into a working, real satellite and do some serious damage. Though most of the established global community responded negatively to this hazardous test, (mainly because of the fragments now hurtling around the earth), few failed to acknowledge the power that an anti-satellite missile armed China possessed.
The fact of the matter is, China’s current anti-satellite missile capability poses a serious threat to the United States and her allies.
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with a major foreign policy analyst in Colorado. Everything she said was off the record so I can’t give you her name or her specific credentials, but I can tell you that she graduated from Harvard (at least that gives you a taste of how certified she was).
The first question I asked her was, “What is China’s biggest threat to the United States?”
To my surprise, she responded by saying that the biggest threat from China is not found in their military’s size or their economic strength, but instead in their missile capabilities. As she explained, China is now among the relatively few number of nations that have the capability to take down US satellites at the push of a button.
Without the help of our satellites, the United States’ military would be crippled. They guide our ships and our planes, augment our missile guidance, tell our ground troops where they are on the map, and allow for vital communications. This is definitely one of the biggest threats we face from China, (if not the biggest) and it will most likely be a focal point for the year.
- Cyber Security
This issue isn’t quite as clear cut. There are two main conflicting views:
View 1: China Poses a Massive Cyber Threat
This view holds that the Chinese government funds hacking groups who then attack US corporations and the US government. Whether or not you personally agree with this outlook, it’s definitely the established view in Washington (and not without reason). The idea that China has purposefully funded the hacking of US companies has been supported by numerous FBI reports, but though the US has ordered China to stop, they’ve denied such activities. There’s certainly a lot of governmental support for this position.
View 2: The Chinese Cyber Threat has been Exaggerated
This view holds that though China may fund a few hacking groups, the United States still possess the upperhand in cyber warfare and so there’s not any long term threat to national security. This hasn’t been supported by the government, but it has been backed by scholars, including a paper from Harvard. Though this angle has slightly less support, it definitely has more weighing value and might resonate better with your judges.
There’s support for both sides of the issue, but regardless of which angle you take, you most likely won’t win this battle completely. There will most likely be some gray area left when you finish debating, so make sure you do a lot of weighing to get that win in the margins (impact calculus will help you out with that).
- China Becoming Regional Superpower
Outside of being a specific threat to our national security, China also poses a threat to our status as the biggest influence in Asia.
Since WWII the US has been the main influence within the region, but this is quickly changing. China is catching up, and many believe that as competition between the US and China continues, conflict is inevitable. Asian nations are now being forced to make a choice between the US or China, and since our main goal in the region is peace, this is mildly problematic
Only time will tell how far this conflict will go, but whether or not it actually gets anywhere, it offers great rhetorical value for DA’s. If you’re struggling to find arguments against a case, talking about how Asia is on the brink of a major conflict (or at least on the brink of choosing China over the US) could add a certain depth to your speech. If you can tie that back to the affirmative team’s case in an impactful way, you’ve got yourself a pretty good reason to vote negative.
The South China Sea dispute, the S. Korea-Taiwan feud and the dispute over Taiwan (Stay tuned for more on this later in the week) are all areas of tension to watch. Each one could easily become the catalyst for a greater US-China conflict.
As China’s power continues to grow tensions will continue to escalate, and our national security interests in the region will only become more defined and important. Make sure you bring this sense of urgency into debate rounds with you, but don’t just give the old, “the time is now” approach.
When you explain one of these issues or outline our regional interests in a debate round, make sure you tell the bigger story. Give the narrative behind the conflict, and your judge will walk away with a deeper understanding.
All in all, China is and will continue to be the biggest player in Asian politics. Now that you understanding the legitimate threat they possess, use the information to add an increased sense of real world importance to your rounds.