How China Could 'Pearl Harbor' the U.S. Military: A Biological Weapons Attack

U.S.-China War
March 11, 2021 Topic: U.S.-China War Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: ChinaXi JinpingBiological AttackMilitaryPentagon

How China Could 'Pearl Harbor' the U.S. Military: A Biological Weapons Attack

The U.S. military is preparing for a worst-case scenario that involves a wide-ranging biological attack.

Recent reports are indicating that last fall—less than a year after the start of the coronavirus pandemic—the U.S. Air Force simulated a military conflict that began with a Chinese biological-weapon attack.

The highly classified war games simulation culminated with Chinese missile strikes on U.S. bases and warships and a lightning air and amphibious assault on the island of Taiwan, which China has recently doubled down its claim to.

Perhaps the U.S. military was only preparing for a worst-case scenario that involves a wide-ranging biological attack, but it appears that the United States knows what’s at stake with Taiwan. The United States currently has no official relations with Taiwan’s democratically elected government—which split from the mainland in 1949—but is known to have extensive informal ties.

The Council on Foreign Relations recently released a special report titled, The United States, China, and Taiwan: A Strategy to Prevent War, which concluded that Taiwan “is becoming the most dangerous flash point in the world for a possible war” between Washington and Beijing.

Furthermore, in a Senate testimony on Tuesday, Adm. Phil Davidson, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, sternly warned that China could try to annex Taiwan “in this decade, in fact, within the next six years.”

More concerning is the fact that what the classified Pentagon war games indicate is that the United States would probably lose such a war.

“More than a decade ago, our war games indicated that the Chinese were doing a good job of investing in military capabilities that would make our preferred model of expeditionary warfare, where we push forces forward and operate out of relatively safe bases and sanctuaries, increasingly difficult,” Air Force Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, told Yahoo News.

But by 2018, “the trend in our war games was not just that we were losing, but we were losing faster. After the 2018 war game, I distinctly remember one of our gurus of wargaming standing in front of the Air Force secretary and chief of staff and telling them that we should never play this war game scenario (of a Chinese attack on Taiwan) again because we know what is going to happen. The definitive answer if the U.S. military doesn’t change course is that we’re going to lose fast. In that case, an American president would likely be presented with almost a fait accompli.” 

It appears that the Taiwan issue has already escalated within the first several weeks of President Joe Biden taking office. His administration recently brushed off a new warning from China that demanded that it change its policy toward Taiwan.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been quoted as saying that Washington needs to make genuine efforts to roll back what he termed the Donald Trump administration’s “dangerous practice” of overtly displaying support for Taiwan. He added that Beijing absolutely has “no room for compromise” on the matter.

As for the Biden administration’s recently announced Pentagon task force that will review U.S. defense policy toward China, Hinote believes Taiwan will continue to be a chief focus.

“Three of China’s standing war plans are built around a Taiwan scenario,” he said. “They’re planning for this. Taiwan is what they think about all the time.”   

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.  

Image: Reuters