29 August 2011

David Axe, AOL Defense: “China’s ‘Ripples of Capability’: An Interview with Andrew Erickson”

David Axe, China’s ‘Ripples of Capability’: An Interview with Andrew Erickson,” AOL Defense, 29 August 2011.

For any Westerner observer struggling to understand Chinese military developments — and let’s be serious, that’s most of us — Andrew Erickson is an indispensable resource. A professor at the Naval War College, Erickson has edited an influential series of books about the People’s Liberation Army, each volume based on close scrutiny of Chinese-language journals and new sources. Erickson’s latest volume, Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles, takes a hard, sober look at Beijing’s growing air and missile forces and their effect on the Pacific balance of power.

In this interview with AOL Defense, Erickson corrected what he views as widely-held misconceptions about China’s military, its strengths, limitations and purposes. Where many analysts fall into opposing camps — one inclined to inflate China’s military strength, the other inclined to downplay it — Erickson occupies a nuanced middle position. He argues that the PLA, specifically the PLA Air Force and PLA Navy, must be assessed through the lens of distance. Erickson says the most profound Chinese developments are aimed at securing Beijing’s “backyard,” while farther afield China remains relatively weak. …

For complete information, see Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein, eds., Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011).