China’s Impact on the Korean Peninsula

The most crucial factor in orienting US military strategy on the Korean peninsula may be China, according to a new report from the Center for a New American Security. Taking the Third Offset as its strategic approach to countering North Korean nuclear aggression, the report concludes that “over the long term, the bigger challenge for the United States in preserving its power-projection capabilities is not likely to be North Korean missiles but Chinese anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities.” Because there is a real possibility that the US may not be able to project power in the region as early as the 2020s, the report’s authors recommend “the United States should seriously consider launching both Third Offset bilateral and multilateral research and development collaboration with key allies and partners.” Asia-Pacific allies, however, must also work to develop their own capabilities to meet the challenges the US will face. This would include the work the Republic of Korea has done to develop “high-power microwave weapons and electromagnetic-pulse bombs” intended to neutralize North Korean nuclear weapons. Because “China’s growing A2/AD capabilities … could significantly constrain, deter, or even defeat US military actions in the Western Pacific,” the report concludes, “South Korea and Japan have to undertake their own offset strategies that will enable their respective forces to retain credible deterrence and defense capabilities.”