- Hardcover: 292 pages
- Publisher: Naval Institute Press; 1st edition (November 15, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159114390X
- ISBN-13: 978-1591143901
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,434,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Red Star Over the Pacific Hardcover – November 15, 2010
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Red Star Over the Pacific will be the go-to book on the rise of Chinese sea power. It is spare, yet exhaustive. It is balanced, yet pulls no punches. The clear writing is imbued with the love of subject. Rather than a sterile treatment of naval issues, the book is filled with historical and geographical awareness. Selected by The Atlantic as one of the best books of the year on Foreign Affairs. --Robert D. Kaplan, senior fellow at The Center for a New American Security,
The steady and systematic rise of Chinese sea power will soon present a fundamental challenge to the mastery which the U.S. Navy has maintained in the western Pacific for almost seven decades. In this outstanding book, Yoshihara and Holmes provide us with the definitive analysis of an impending revolution in naval affairs, as China extends its capability to control access over all of its littoral seas and Taiwan, and indeed within the entire Pacific first island chain. ... Every American maritime strategist and naval commander will want to read this vitally important book. --James Kurth, Claude C. Smith Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, Swarthmore College
The shifting strategic balance between the United States and China as Beijing develops the country s seapower will be one of the major issues of the 21st century. While the authors of this thoughtful and expert study show that the motives behind Chinese expansion may not necessarily imply malign intent, and certainly should not automatically be treated that way by Washington, they do show that the United States is bound to be increasingly preoccupied by the consequences of this major challenge. --Geoffrey Till Professor of Maritime Studies, King's College London
About the Author
Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes are associate professors of strategy at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. Both authors hold PhDs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
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Authors arguments run as follows: China has become a maritime nation. It has started depending on overseas trade for continued prosperity. Under the changed circumstances Beijing feels it necessary to have a powerful fleet to protect its maritime communications from possible depredations from would-be hostile powers.
A careful look at the map shows China - just as Imperial Germany - is shackled by a disastrous maritime geography. Nature has imposed barriers to China’s access to high seas. China’s coast is enclosed by a water body formed by nations of the ASEAN bloc.The Yellow Sea, South China Sea, and East China seas are cocooned by Korean peninsula and Japan’s four islands.
If a conflict were to break out US navy could corral the PLA Navy by closing Malacca, Lombok, Sunda straits to shipping. The country would become vulnerable to economic pressure. Beijing cannot allow this to happen. Taiwan offers the only access to open seas. So the control of it is essential to prevent a maritime stranglehold.
This is a hypothetical scenario. As an antidote, PLA navy is developing sea denial/anti-access capabilities. This is basically a defensive strategy executed by inferior naval powers by employing offensive means. For that Beijing is developing appropriate military hardware.
China’s ASBMs are capable of striking surface units of the US fleet. Deployment of such systems could keep US navy’s carrier strike groups at a distance. Range and accuracy of ASBMs have steadily improved extending the combat radius of PLA navy. China, therefore, managed to push its defensive envelope far beyond its territorial waters. Destroyers equipped with sophisticated radars, anti-ship, anti-aircraft missile systems form the backbone of the Chinese surface fleet.
However, new weapon systems on the anvil, authors feel could upset the naval balance of power. For instance, China’s latest land-based ASBMs feature precision strike capability and carry MRV warheads designed to defeat American BMDs. Authors examine tactics Chinese have developed to breach layered defenses protecting US carrier battle groups. AEGIS –equipped vessels screen American aircraft carriers. In the future AEGIS systems may have to cope with threats emanating from multiple axes.
Of late, China has deployed diesel-powered submarines with stealth capabilities. They are difficult to detect and track in shallow waters. The sudden appearance of Yuan-class submarines took American intelligence community by surprise. Authors claim China is on the road to acquiring blue water capability. Establishment of bases in the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal to provide logistical support has sent alarm bells ringing in the region. Indians look very much concerned.
Paradoxically, after exposing the ominous nature of Chinese naval build-up the authors don’t foresee the prospect of an armed conflict breaking out. Because they claim that we live in a globalized world, and economic interdependence rules out this possibility.
Nonetheless, authors believe erosion of US naval hegemony is slowly in progress. Authors warn Washington should pay more attention to China’s strategic modernization program. West must shed its condescending attitude towards other cultures. West must stop believing innate superiority of its way in doing things and adopt more pragmatic and open approach toward other nations.
The book is a prescription for US naval strategists to perpetuate its hold on the region. Authors do not relish an established order toppled by an upstart nation. Erudite in nature and not meant for the common man, the book is included in the professional reading list for the serving members of the US navy.
But for those living in the area, it can cause a lot of sleepless nights.
Being a Chinese who lives in Asia, I cannot agree more on the mentality described in the book, especially in the soft-talk approach, very much in the tradition of Sun-tze (If you are capable, show your opponent that you are not; if you are not capable, show your oppoent you can.) The recent admission that the PLA is 20 years behind western military sophistication is more likely to be deliverate deceiving rather than a rare show of humility.
The deployment of long range land based ballistic missile systems is not something to brush aside for the US and if the Chinese (meaning the current one in Beijing)lacks wisdom in good governance, it is never short of resourcefulness in exploiting Achilles heel of its opponents and disguising their intention until they are ready.
Two things were missed out in the book: 1. The Chinese government is far less concerned about casualities inflicted on its military and civilians than the US. Mao has declared that even can China afford to lose half of its population in an all out war, as long as it can achieve final victory and 2. though the book presents frightening scenerios in tactical analysis, it seems the Chinese may not have the resources to execute all of them in restricted span of time, (for example, they cannot tackle the tast of destroying the Japanese destroyers (using 150-200 firt line aircrafts) and achieving surprise to launch an anti-carrrier group assualt). At least, not yet. Also, the critical factor will be the guidance system and hence who can knock out the other's satellites while adequately protecting ones' own as well as cyber-war prowess would determine the outcome.
The US has a tradition of not waking up until it receives a brutal wake-up call (Pearl Harbor, 911) but hopefully, the top brass will listen and be prepared before reality demands a high price in blood. In this year when most of the focus is on the election campaign and economy plight, it is just too easy to miss the rising menance in the far horizon.