21 November 2014

2014 Annual Report to Congress Released by U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission

2014 Annual Report to Congress of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, Second Session (Washington, DC: USCC, 20 November 2014).

Report PDFs:


Selected Quotations:
p. 288

Andrew Erickson, associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, testified to the Commission that China’s defense spending levels provide the PLA with “sufficient funding to develop formidable military capabilities for use on its immediate periphery and in its general region.” Dr. Erickson also explained China’s focus on developing regional capabilities has allowed the PLA to “rapidly exploit its geographical proximity and the vulnerabilities of its potential adversaries’ military technologies and force structures, potentially placing them on the costly end of a capabilities competition.” He testified this acquisition strategy has provided China with “asymmetric capabilities that are disproportionately efficient in asserting its interests, even though its overall defense spending still remains a distant second to America’s.”

p. 289

In a 2013 article in the China Quarterly journal, Dr. Erickson and Adam Liff, a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and an assistant professor at Indiana University, explain the practical consequences of China’s defense spending going forward:

“The more sophisticated and technology-intensive [the PLA’s] systems become, the less benefit the PLA can derive from acquiring and indigenizing foreign technologies, and the less cost-advantage China will have in producing and maintaining them. . . . Developing the capabilities necessary to wage high- or even medium-intensity warfare beyond China’s immediate vicinity would require significant additional increases in the defense budget and heavy investment in new platforms, weapons and related systems; as well as training, operations and maintenance; not to mention some form of support infrastructure abroad. If China decides to develop significant power projection capabilities, its investments are likely to be increasingly inefficient and provide significantly less ‘bang’ for a significantly larger ‘buck’.”

pp. 304-05

The PLA Navy’s expanding and modernizing fleet of combat ships has improved Beijing’s ability to project power in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the Philippine Sea as well as to fulfill the PLA Navy’s growing missions beyond the Asia Pacific, such as… counterpiracy. Dr. Erickson explained the trajectory of the PLA Navy and its implications for the United States and the region:

“While one of the world’s largest, China’s slightly-expanding surface fleet has grown far faster in quality. Chinese naval platforms display a growing multi-mission emphasis. Whereas previously antisurface warfare focus eclipsed competing priorities, now increasing emphasis is devoted to the over-the-horizon targeting necessary to support antisurface warfare, as well as to antiair warfare. China’s latest destroyers and frigates, which its large, increasingly advanced shipbuilding industry is building steadily, boast significant area air defense capabilities. With a developing aircraft carrier program, the possibility of land-attack cruise missiles being deployed in surface vessel vertical launch systems in the near future, and deployment of larger amphibious vessels including YUZHAO-class landing platform docks and Zubr air-cushioned landing craft, the PLA Navy may be starting to develop a force capable of conducting strike operations ashore. As China’s consolidating coast guard forces increasingly patrol disputed areas in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea to advance China’s claims there, PLA Navy ships are free to range further afield to bolster China’s antiaccess/ area denial envelope in the Western Pacific and expand its presence and influence in the Indian Ocean and beyond.”

pp. 411-12Although China has settled most of its land border disputes, it is engaged in intense maritime disputes in its near seas—the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. Due to their strategic, historical, and resource value, Beijing’s near seas are “of paramount importance to a China that feels acutely wronged by history, has largely addressed its more basic security needs, and craves further development,’’ according to Andrew S. Erickson, a China expert at the U.S. Naval War College.
Selected Citations:
Andrew Erickson and William McCahill, “Take Heed of China’s Security Commission,”China Real Time Report (中国实时报), Wall Street Journal, 31 January 2014.
Andrew S. Erickson and Adam P. Liff, “The Budget This Time: Taking the Measure of China’s Defense Spending,” ASAN Forum 2.2 (March-April 2014).
Andrew S. Erickson, “China’s Modernization of Its Naval and Air Power Capabilities,” in Ashley J. Tellis and Travis Tanner, eds., Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challenge (Seattle, WA: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2012), 60-125.
Gabe Collins and Andrew S. Erickson, “Implications of China’s Military Evacuation of Citizens from Libya,” Jamestown China Brief, 11.4 (10 March 2011): 8-10.

Andrew S. Erickson, “Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission,” Panel II: “Inputs to China’s Military Modernization,” “China’s Military Modernization and its Implications for the United States” hearing, Washington, DC, 30 January 2014.

Andrew S. Erickson and Adam P. Liff, “China’s Military Development, Beyond the Numbers,” The Diplomat, 12 March 2013.

Andrew S. Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China Carrier Demo Module Highlights Surging Navy,” The National Interest, 6 August 2013.

Andrew S. Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China’s Real Blue Water Navy,” The Diplomat, 30 August 2012.

Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldsteineds., Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011).

Andrew S. Erickson and Gabe Collins, “Limited Liftoff Looming: Y-20 Transport Prepares for 1st Test Flight,” The Diplomat, 8 January 2013.

Andrew S. Erickson, “Chinese Air- and Space-Based ISR: Integrating Aerospace Combat Capabilities over the Near Seas,” in Peter Dutton, Andrew S. Erickson, and Ryan Martinson, eds., China’s Near Seas Combat Capabilities, Naval War College China Maritime Study 11 (February 2014), 87-117.

Andrew S. Erickson, “How China Got There First: Beijing’s Unique Path to ASBM Development and Deployment,” Jamestown Foundation China Brief 13.12 (7 June 2013).

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael S. Chase, “China Goes Ballistic,” The National Interest 131 (May-June 2014): 58-64.

Andrew S. Erickson and Amy Chang, “China’s Navigation in Space: What New Approaches will China’s Space Tracking Take? U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 138.4 (April 2012): 42-47.

Andrew S. Erickson, “China’s Near-Seas Challenges,” The National Interest 129 (January-February 2014): 60-66.

Dennis M. Gormley, Andrew S. Erickson, and Jingdong Yuan, A Low-Visibility Force Multiplier: Assessing China’s Cruise Missile Ambitions (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 2014).