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Over the past decade, Chinese military strategists have keenly observed changes in U.S. national strategy and military transformation. The acceleration of its own military modernization suggests that China is not dissuaded by U.S. military prowess but instead is driven by a range of strategic and military motivations to keep pace. This report examines the constraints, facilitators, and potential options for Chinese responses to U.S. transformation efforts, especially with respect to whether Taiwan moves toward or away from formal independence. The authors focus on four areas of counter-transformation options that China may pursue (which most likely would include all or portions of each strategy): Conventional Modernization “Plus”; Subversion, Sabotage, and Information Operations; Missile-Centric Strategies; and Chinese Network-Centric Warfare. The path China takes will depend on its key national security goals and the political and economic context within which these goals are pursued. That said, the authors offer possible U.S. counterresponses to such courses of action (e.g., planning defensive measures, augmentation of network-centric platforms) and emphasize that the ultimate “victor” of transformation will be that nation with the best combination of surprise, error control, fortune, and highly trained people.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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