Simone Gao: You said it is the communist regime that is under utmost pressure rather than Russia since the U.S. withdrew from the INF Treaty. Why?
Wen Zhao: While Russia is a declining force. Both the INF Treaty and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) were established within the framework of the U.S.-Russia confrontation. Now, the world situation has changed. The CCP, unbound by such treaties in the past decades, has developed and deployed medium-range missiles as they please, whose quantity and quality have posed direct threats to the presence of the U.S. military in the Western Pacific ocean. For example, it is claimed that “DF-21 missiles” and “DF-26 medium-range missiles” can attack large vessel targets such as aircraft carriers. Hence, unbalanced military tools for the U.S. So the INF Treaty remains insignificant to global security unless new important variables such as the CCP are included in the framework. If the CCP is unwilling to join such a multilateral arms limitation treaty, it will have to directly face an increased military deterrence from the U.S. and a growing defense burden on itself. Since mainland China’s most important cities are within 1,000 kilometers from the coastline, that is to say, within the range of medium-range missiles, once the U.S. has retired from the INF Treaty and begins to deploy land-based medium-range ballistic missiles, much greater military deterrence will form. So, the CCP is unmistakably under great pressure.
Simone Gao: Will Beijing be forced to compete with the U.S. in space?
Wen Zhao: The fact is, Beijing is a later player. If the U.S. furthers its advantages over China, the CCP’s previous huge investments will come to nothing. Therefore, the CCP faces bigger pressure to follow up the contest, which is a “prisoner’s dilemma.” Also, since modern military technology is highly information-based and depends on satellites. If the CCP cannot have a satellite network comparable to that of the U.S. and protect it at war, its reconnaissance and communications will fail. Its other costly high-tech weapons will be scrapped. So, outer space is a battlefield where the opponent has to accept competition, unless the CCP gives up competing with the United States for the world’s No. 1 military power. Compared with Reagan’s Star Wars Program, the Space Force program is not so strong offensively. It concerns how to protect the U.S. military’s space assets when under the threat of China and Russia—the primary goal for the time being. But to offset the power of the CCP’s space weapons, this pressure is enough to drag Beijing into an escalated race. So far, economically, the CCP is superior to the former Soviet Union. But it has less strong military technology than the latter. Its independent research and development capabilities are not enough to compete with the U.S. Hence greater pressure for the CCP in this perspective.