Studying Ukraine War, China’s Military Minds Fret Over US Missiles, Starlink

BEIJING/HONG KONG, March 8 (Reuters) – China needs to shoot down low-Earth-orbit Starlink satellites and use tanks and helicopters against shoulder-fired Javelin missiles, according to Chinese military researchers studying Russia’s conflicts in Ukraine. The ability to defend is needed. Planning for possible conflict with US-led forces in Asia.

A Reuters review of nearly 100 articles in more than 20 defense journals shows China’s military-industrial complex is attempting to investigate the influence of US weapons and technology, which has been used against Chinese forces in the war on Taiwan. can be deployed.

The Chinese-language journals, which also probe Ukrainian sabotage operations, reflect the work of hundreds of researchers at universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), state-owned arms manufacturers and a network of military intelligence think-tanks.

While Chinese officials have avoided openly critical comments about Moscow’s actions or battlefield performance as they call for peace and dialogue, publicly available journal articles are more forthright in their assessments of Russian shortcomings. .

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China’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment about the researchers’ findings. Reuters could not determine how closely the findings reflect the thinking among China’s military leaders.

Two military attaches and another diplomat familiar with China’s defense studies said the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, headed by President Xi Jinping, ultimately determines and directs research needs, and it was clear from the amount of material that the Ukraine military There was an opportunity for leadership. wanted to grab The three people and other diplomats spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss their work publicly.

A US defense official told Reuters that despite differences with Taiwan’s position, the Ukraine war provided insight for China.

“The rapid international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should draw an important lesson to the world that aggression will be met with unity of swift action,” the official said on condition of anonymity, without the sensitivity of the subject. Addressing concerns raised in Chinese research about specific US capabilities.

Starlink Gazing

A half-dozen papers by PLA researchers highlight Chinese concern over the role of Starlink, a satellite network developed by Elon Musk’s US-based space exploration company SpaceX, in securing Ukraine’s military’s communications amid Russian missile attacks on the country’s power grid. We do.

“The excellent performance of ‘Starlink’ satellites in this Russian-Ukrainian conflict will certainly prompt the US and Western countries to use ‘Starlink’ extensively in potential hostilities in Asia,” said the study co-authored by researchers from the Army Engineering University. Written in a September article said. of PLA.

The authors considered it “urgent” for China – which aims to develop a similar satellite network of its own – to find ways to shoot down or disable Starlink. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.

The conflict has also led to a clear consensus among Chinese researchers that drone warfare merits more investment. China has been testing drones in the skies around Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing has vowed to bring under its control.

“These unmanned aerial vehicles will serve as the ‘door kicker’ of future wars,” noted an article in a tank warfare magazine published by state-owned arms manufacturer NORINCO, a supplier to the PLA, in which the drones The ability to neutralize enemy defenses has been described. ,

While some journals are run by provincial research institutes, others are official publications for central government bodies such as the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, which oversees weapons production and military upgrades.

An article in the administration’s official journal in October noted that China needs to improve its ability to protect military equipment in the wake of “serious damage to Russian tanks, armored vehicles and warships” by Stinger and Javelin missiles fired by Ukrainian fighters. should do.

Singapore’s S. Colin Koh, a security fellow at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the Ukrainian conflict triggered long-running efforts by China’s military scientists to develop cyber-warfare models and find ways to shield them better than modern Western weapons. It was

“Starlink is really something new for them to worry about; a military application of advanced civilian technology that they can’t easily replicate,” Koh said.

Beyond the technology, Koh said he was not surprised that Ukrainian special forces operations inside Russia were being studied by China, which, like Russia, moves troops and weapons by rail, making them vulnerable to sabotage. comes

Despite its rapid modernization, the PLA lacks recent combat experience. China’s invasion of Vietnam in 1979 was its last major battle – a conflict that lasted until the late 1980s.

Reuters’ review of the Chinese journals comes amid Western concern that China may be planning to provide lethal aid to Russia for its attack on Ukraine, which Beijing denies.

Taiwan, and beyond

Some Chinese articles stress the relevance of Ukraine, possibly given the risk of a regional conflict pitting China against the United States and its allies over Taiwan. The US has a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it will intervene militarily to defend the island, but is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means of its own defense.

William Burns, director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, has said that Xi has ordered his military to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027, while noting that the Chinese leader was probably troubled by Russia’s experience in Ukraine.

An article published in October by two researchers from the PLA’s National Defense University analyzed the impact of the US delivery of high-mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine and whether China’s military should be worried.

“If Himars dares to intervene in Taiwan in the future, what was once known as an ‘explosive device’ will face another fate in the face of various adversaries,” it concluded.

The article highlighted China’s own advanced rocket system supported by reconnaissance drones, and noted that Ukraine’s success with HIMARS depended on sharing target information and intelligence via Starlink.

Four diplomats, including two military aides, said PLA analysts have long worried about superior US military power, but Ukraine provided a window on the failure of a larger power to overwhelm a smaller one backed by the West. Have focused your attention by doing.

While the comparison to Taiwan in that scenario is obvious, there are differences, especially given the island’s vulnerability to a Chinese blockade that could force any interventionist militaries into confrontation.

Western countries, on the contrary, are able to supply Ukraine with land through their European neighbors.

References to Taiwan are relatively few in the journals reviewed by Reuters, but diplomats and foreign scholars tracking the research say Chinese defense analysts tasked with providing separate internal reports to senior political and military leaders Is. Reuters was unable to access those internal reports.

Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said in February that China’s military was learning from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that any attack on Taiwan would have to be swift to succeed. Taiwan is also studying the conflict to update its battle strategies.

Several articles analyze the strength of the Ukrainian resistance, including sabotage operations by special forces inside Russia, the use of the Telegram app to access civilian intelligence, and the defense of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

Russian successes have also been noted, such as tactical strikes using the Iskander ballistic missile.

The journal Tactical Missile Technology, published by the state-owned arms manufacturer China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, carried a detailed analysis of the Iskander, but released only a shortened version to the public.

Several other articles focus on the mistakes of Russia’s invading force, with one in Tank Warfare magazine identifying outdated tactics and a lack of unified command, while another in Electronic Warfare magazine states that Russian communications interference is a threat to NATO. Intelligence provision was insufficient to counter it. Ukrainians, leading to a costly assault.

An article published this year by researchers at the People’s Armed Police’s University of Engineering assessed China’s insight from blowing up the Kerch Bridge in Russian-occupied Crimea. However, the full analysis has not been released publicly.

Beyond the battlefield, the work has covered the information war, which the researchers conclude was won by Ukraine and its allies.

A February article by researchers at the PLA Information Engineering University calls for China to prepare in advance for a global public opinion backlash similar to that experienced by Russia.

China should “promote the creation of cognitive confrontation platforms” and tighten controls on social media to prevent Western information campaigns from influencing its people during a conflict.

Reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Beijing and Greg Torode in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Idris Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington. Editing by David Crawshaw.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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