China goes down to the sea: Putting the “hybrid” in warfare (Bonus update: Biden’s excellent balloon* adventure)

Interesting times.

Foreword:  In the interim before sending this to post, the Chinese surveillance balloon* swam into America’s ken.  (Since then, more unidentified airborne objects have been shot down in the last 48-odd hours.)  As an example of the intrusive level at which the Chinese Communist Party is prepared to admit itself to other nations, including the United States, the balloon could hardly have been more timely or useful.  The separate phenomenon recounted in this article has been pooh-poohed by some Western observers as a stretch, too exotic, or – somehow – “evidently” not close enough to implementation to worry about.  But there’s really no closer it has to be.  The capability exists; the opportunity is wide open right now.  Of course China didn’t develop the capability merely for the CCP’s amusement, with no intention of using it.  If Xi Jinping has major geopolitical moves in view, as he manifestly does, now is the time to make preparations for it.  That’s what the surveillance balloon was about:  not just a probe, but a measure to prepare a hybrid battlespace.  We should be paying attention to everything.  I’ll have a few comments on the balloon at the end.

In starting this article, I have a strong sense that it is not and cannot be comprehensive.  There’s too much going on in the live situation for that.  The expanding problem is a moving target.

But I think it will convey an accurate flavor of the scope and nature of the problem.  So please be aware of the caveat that the information presented assuredly isn’t everything out there.  It’s enough to publish on, and it needs to be put out there even in an unfinished state.

I also note that this is not the long-promised survey of China’s posture with lands owned inside the United States.  That’s still to come, and it’s a very big project to catalogue and ponder it.

This is more of a companion piece to help visualize how a related situation has developed over the last two decades. Most of the focus is on China’s presence in ports in Latin America, with some context from views of presence and potential militarization around the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

We’re out of lead-time on this matter.  What we’re seeing now is the preparation of the CCP for “hybrid warfare.”

And yes, China’s preparations are meant to induce us to proleptically collapse, in terms of will, and effectively surrender in the face of unfavorable odds.

But that’s why hybrid warfare has a military dimension.  Without a military dimension, the infiltration would have much less punch.  Nothing about winning without having to shoot (or without having to shoot very much) is a prescription for eschewing military power.  Rather, it depends heavily on lining up military power to set the cost-benefit prospectus in your (i.e., the CCP’s) favor, and in the other guy’s disfavor (i.e., America’s).

The potential for rapidly militarizing civilian infrastructure is thus a key element of hybrid warfare.  It doesn’t replace military power; it’s another way of delivering military power, to influence an opponent’s will and decision-making.

This article looks at just one dimension of pre-positioning Chinese military power:  a maritime dimension linked to leveraging port access and control overseas.

In the past, we’ve looked at the South China Sea, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Kiribati, Djibouti, and the Solomon Islands, as well as Chinese forays into the perimeter of the Atlantic Ocean.  We’ve considered Myanmar/Burma (also here) and Pakistan as well (the latter not going so well recently; e.g., here).  Beijing’s prosecution of the Belt and Road initiative in South Asia, Africa, and Southern Europe continues on a robust and accelerating path.

But it’s in the Western hemisphere too, in spades, and that will be the focus here.

Fraternal peace ports

More than 25 years ago, China startled American observers by scoring a port improvement and operations agreement with the Bahamas, a short hop off the U.S. coast of Florida.  The port in question was Freeport, on Grand Bahama, and a Hong Kong company, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison, continues to operate it to this day.  (This, among other similar situations, makes the matter of Beijing’s level of effective control of Hong Kong a major security issue for nations around the world.)


Fast forward a quarter century, and China now has some 40 port development and operations projects, including ports and terminals under Chinese day-to-day control, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  Projects are as close to the continental U.S. as North Abaco Port on the Bahamian island of Abaco, a few miles east of Grand Bahama (see here as well for some interesting local reporting), and as far away as the Port of Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina, on the Beagle Channel not far from Antarctica.  (See also here, here, here, here, here, and here.  The Ushuaia development has been much in the news lately.)  They include very high-profile arrangements such as concessions to Chinese port operators in the ports serving the Panama Canal, as well as lower-profile, but no less strategically important, Chinese inroads in the Caribbean.

Google satellite imagery; author annotation.

These Chinese development sites are in addition to concessions in the U.S. that allow Chinese shipping company COSCO to control container terminals (the delivery and staging points for shipping containers) in major ports like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Long Beach.

And those port situations are in addition to port operations contracts in the U.S. awarded to foreign companies such as APM (A.P. Moeller; Netherlands) and CMA CGM (France) that work closely with Chinese marine services companies.

CMA CGM runs a port network called Terminal Link, for example, in partnership with Chinese company China Merchants Port (CMPort), China’s state-owned port operations company (additional information on recent Terminal Link acquisitions).  The partnership is 51% held by CMA CGM and 49% by CMPort.

The new South Florida Container Terminal in Biscayne Bay off Miami was developed by a consortium of Terminal Link and the Netherlands’ APM (see here for earlier background; APM also has joint projects with Chinese companies including a port ops automation project), and is now operated by Terminal Link.

Google map; author annotation.
Google map; author annotation.

The Port of Mobile, Alabama is also in a partnership with Terminal Link.  Bayport, Texas has a Terminal Link-managed port, and indeed, Texas hosts the headquarters of Terminal Link in the USA.

Meanwhile, CMA CGM is preparing to buy container ports in New York and Bayonne, New Jersey.

These considerations in the U.S. and points south also don’t account for Chinese port and shipping activity in Canada, where China is a major shipper through Vancouver, for example, and during the COVID-19 bottlenecks revamped infrastructure to support alternate routing of containers through Prince Rupert Port further north on the British Columbian coast (originally an improvement project from the 2000s).  The latter service has since been suspended, but the infrastructure would support resuming it.

COSCO also ships through Montreal and Halifax, on the east side of the country.

We’ll see shortly why there’s a particular reason to track where COSCO is going.  But that reason undoubtedly applies to other Chinese shipping companies as well, especially in the era of Xi Jinping’s consolidation of central CCP power and the associated clampdown on commercial companies.

This very abbreviated summary can be investigated in greater detail by following links to other articles and studies, such as here, here, here, here, here, here,

The purpose of this article isn’t to catalogue in depth all the nodes and features in China’s network of overseas port interests, but to establish enough understanding to appreciate the more unusual analysis and presentation these threads are leading to.

Zooming out to a military perspective

The preceding summary considers only the Americas, and doesn’t get into the significance of “militarize-able” Chinese port operations in the Eastern hemisphere.  Be assured, such opportunities are plastered all over Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  We’ll briefly survey a few of them later.

But for context, let’s consider a few features of the more traditionally military dimensions of other Chinese activities we’ve looked at in the past.

To save time, I’m going to provide a map depicting such features, and “brief to it.”  This will get us a good 80% of the way, and I hope be less eye-glazing than a cascade of verbiage.

Note for this and following overview maps: the afloat platforms are assets with missile power projection capabilities and are the most likely to be deployed forward in the timeframe envisioned. The maps would be too busy if all deployed assets were shown, but assume China is patrolling chokepoints in Western Pacific and close to her mainland with older and more plentiful platforms. For destroyers, assume they are operating in task units with other warships. For SSNs, assume they are dual-tasked with attack sub missions as well as on-command use of missiles. Google map; author annotation. Click to enlarge for legibility (all maps).

This map depicts, straightforwardly, a notional deployment of cruise missile threats from the Chinese launch platforms we would expect to have arrayed in the Pacific, oriented against North America and the U.S.’s allies, based on currently- or near-term-operational weapon systems in the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) isn’t considered here, but if it were afforded forward basing and logistics options – as it could be at some point – its reach across the Pacific would be a greatly complicating layer over this illustration.  (It already is one for the U.S. allies near or adjacent to China, of course.)

In that regard, consider this very brief detour on Chinese bomber aircraft and their land-attack potential.  The original analysis is from Defence Research and Development Canada, which depicts on page 27 the map below, showing a “bomber gap” for the reach of Chinese land-attack missiles if the bombers have to operate from China.

Credit: Defence of North America: Chinese Missile Threat
. p. 27. Additional author annotation.

I’ve adapted the presentation to show how the gap would be closed – would exist no more, even if for a temporary but useful period of time – if China were able to put airfields with military access in Kiribati, south of Hawaii close to the Equator.  See here (link also above) for the previous article on China’s overtures to Kiribati, and Beijing’s effort to secure just such access.

Google map; other credits on graphic.
Google map; other credits on graphic.

The Pacific overview map also doesn’t take into account strategic ballistic missile threats, from launch points on land or from submarines.  China can now reach the entire United States with a combination of these threats; if readers are interested in a treatment of where ballistic missile submarines would be likely to patrol, other than in bastion locations just off China’s coast, I posted an article in 2014 when President Obama was preparing to close off much of that area of the Western Pacific to sonar testing for the U.S. Navy.

We can’t survey everything in one blog article, so this one will look at only part of the picture.  The map’s depiction isn’t even comprehensive for what it is, however, much less what it isn’t.  China has other afloat platforms and other missiles, such as the much larger fleet of conventional-powered attack submarines and the older surface combatants with shorter-range antiship missiles.  They would come into play in any scenario of increased tensions and more tactical confrontations, and would see extensive use in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia.

What’s shown is nevertheless a useful baseline to think with.  Its basic character is about power-projection capability, more than area defense.  (The ground-launched cruise missiles from China are relevant for that dimension of warfare because they inherently project power toward Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.)  I’ve chosen this slice of China’s power-projection picture because of its specific relevance to the central point I want readers to take away.  That central point will become apparent.

The first map graphic shows the threat China can pose with Type 052D (Luyang III) and Type 055 (Renhai) guided missile destroyers (DDGs) and Type 093A (Shang II) nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) equipped with modern Chinese cruise missiles.

One class of cruise missile shown is the YJ-18 cruise missile, with a range up to about 340 statute miles (540 km, or 290 nautical miles; NM.  For simplicity, I will use statute miles as the standard in this article).  The YJ-18 is deployable on the DDGs and Shang SSNs, in land attack (YJ-18) and antiship (YJ-18A) variants, and can be launched from vertical launch tubes from both destroyer types, according to China.

The other classes are the CJ-10 and CJ-100 land attack cruise missiles, with ranges of, respectively, 950 miles and 1,550 miles.  The CJ-10, a subsonic missile in its ground- and sea-launched variants, is in service already as the DF-10 ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) and is assessed to be launchable from the Type 055 as well as the Type 093 SSN.  (There has long been speculation that the Type 052D can also support the CJ-10, and although I find no evidence that that has been demonstrated, the vertical launch system – VLS – on the Type 052D would appear to accommodate it.  For simplicity, I will depict only the Type 055 with the CJ-10.)

As noted above, the ground-launched version of the CJ-10 – the DF-10 GLCM – can be deployed with mobile launchers to hold China’s maritime perimeter at risk.

The longer-range CJ-100 is a hypersonic land-attack missile.  It’s believed to be capable of hypersonic performance in each variant, and of vertical launch which with adaptation could suit it for use with naval vertical launch systems.  It can currently be launched from H-6 bomber aircraft and ground launchers.

It’s not fielded in naval platforms now, but a universal VLS incorporated in new-generation surface combatants and submarines is likely to enable those platforms to accept a CJ-100 variant, or a follow-on with similar range and performance, in their load-outs.  The purpose of a universal VLS is to provide swappable tubes that can support different missile types in a single launcher array.  The VLS and the missile would “meet” halfway in such an adaptation; if it doesn’t happen for the CJ-100 and the first universal VLS, the design goal for subsequent variants will most likely be to make it happen for the next, probably modified specimen of each.

Source: Defence of North America: Chinese Missile Threat
. p. 23. Author annotation.
Source: Defence of North America: Chinese Missile Threat
. p. 24. Author annotation.

The first attack submarine to accommodate a CJ-100-level missile could be the Type 095 previewed by U.S. intelligence since 2013.  Recent DOD estimates have omitted timeline predictions on that, but analyst H I Sutton suggests the expansion of submarine construction capability at the Bohai Shipyard in Huludao, China, observed in September 2020, is a harbinger of impending work on the next generation of SSNs – i.e., the Type 095.

In general, meanwhile, the cruise missile load-out (YJ-18 or CJ-10) on existing SSNs of up to six torpedo-tube-launched missiles at a time is limited, as is the number of Type 093s in service (six).

But adopting a universal vertical launch system – an arrangement like that incorporated in the U.S. Navy’s newer hulls – along with the Chinese SSNs’ ability to launch cruise missiles submerged (also like U.S. SSNs), indicates a commitment to the expanded capability we will look at below.

An interim indicator of that is a strong one:  commercial satellite imagery from 2022 appears to show the new 093 SSN variant under construction, the Type 093B, fitted with 18 VLS tubes which would be suitable for launching cruise missiles.  (See here as well.  A Hong Kong news outlet cited by Global Security previewed a 16-tube VLS for the 093B, and the capability of launching YJ-18 and CJ-10 cruise missiles from it, back in 2015.)

The Pacific overview graphic above depicts Type 052D destroyers with vertical-launched YJ-18 missiles, the Type 055 destroyer with a longer-range attack capability using the CJ-10A, also launched from vertical tubes, and the Type 093A Shang-II SSN with the CJ-10 launchable from torpedo tubes.  The YJ-18 would also be carried by the Type 055 and the Shang-II, but isn’t shown in order to keep the graphic simple.

The next Pacific overview projects a picture further in the future, when additional weapon systems are likely to be fielded (i.e., over the next decade).  The Type 093B SSN discussed above, with its VLS tubes, is depicted, as well as the Type 095 SSN and a CJ-100 or follow-on launchable from VLS tubes.  The Type 055 destroyer is shown operating further forward as a fleet-backbone platform, in an evolving environment in which the PLAN is present on a more routine basis in the Americas and the Atlantic.

See first overview above for comments. Google map; author annotation.

The “flier” in the ointment

But speaking of the universal VLS:  also depicted, on a map further below – a second version of the future Pacific overview – is a potential Chinese-run economic “improvement” project, placed nominally in the Solomon Islands and/or Kiribati.

I stress that there is no reporting of such a project being negotiated or initiated, although China and the Solomons government have already signed a cooperation agreement that includes economic and security dimensions.  (Resistance to that agreement among key Islander factions has been strong, and the ultimate fate of the pact remains to be seen.  See the two-part video series here and here for more on that.)

What I’m doing in this case is presenting a realistic possibility based on China’s missile capabilities, and history of land-reclamation projects to build artificial islands around reefs and shoals, such as the ones present in the Solomons (as well as Kiribati).  China has done this at disputed locations in the South China Sea; China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) is also building a reclaimed-land “port city” for the Sri Lankan port of Colombo, off India’s southern tip, and has reclaimed land for a second Sri Lankan project in Hambantota Port.

Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port, under 99-year lease to China. CGTN video, YouTube

China has a similar contract for land-reclamation development with the small island nation of Cabo Verde, off the coast of Northwest Africa in the Atlantic.  (The project there is to build a casino-centered entertainment attraction on Cabo Verde’s Santiago Island.)

There may be other such projects, but if I wait to track every one of them down this will never get posted.

In addition to reclaiming land, China has also moved swiftly in the South China Sea to lay airfields capable of supporting military aircraft, and create deployment sites for anti-air missiles and mobile-platform cruise missiles (i.e., using mobile ground launchers).

So much is established reality.  Reclaiming land to create artificial territory for both economic and military purposes is mastered technology for China.

Where I am projecting into the future – the “flier” I’m taking here – is in envisioning a PLA planners’ desire for a forward missile launch capability, which instead of merely deploying mobile launchers like those of coastal-defense cruise missiles would be packaged to take advantage of the extremely convenient universal VLS envisioned for naval platforms.

See first Pacific overview above for additional comments. Google map; author annotation.

We’ll see in a moment why this is by no means an unthinkable desire for the PLA.  To continue, however, the vertical launch tube package, which is already able to support the launch of multiple missile types – anti-air, anti-ship (including the YJ-18), and land attack (YJ-18, CJ-10) – could be decoupled from the highly visible, multitasked destroyer platform, and embedded (even hidden) with host sites constructed from reclaimed-land projects.  New missile variants, such as a VLS-launched CJ-100 or follow-on, could be staged forward as they become available, without having to detectably rotate entire weapon systems like destroyers or GLCM batteries.

A multi-missile vertical launcher, unlike a destroyer (or even an SSN), could lurk forward for some time, possibly even unsuspected if it were installed stealthily enough.

Militarizing the planet

Concentrated speculation would yield a list of features for such an apparatus, such as pop-up movement mechanisms and stabilization for launching, as well as command and control packages.

The view of the Pacific without such a capability demonstrates, first of all, holes in the PLAN’s area defense/area denial arrangements around China’s southern perimeter.  To make China’s perimeter impregnable, the holes would have to be filled by mobile platforms – e.g., destroyers and submarines – in the event of major war (or a period of tensions leading to it).

But seeing the Pacific theater without such a capability also highlights that quite a few potentially usable points for such defense/denial militarization would be going to waste.  The Solomons certainly aren’t the only opportune location.  Islands in the South China Sea would be quite obvious, but a rapidly deployable capability, and versions adapted for already-existing island sites, might enhance China’s options to advantage in other strategic locations across the Southwest Pacific, Southeast Asia, Indian Ocean, and even close to home on the Senkaku Islands northeast of Taiwan, which China disputes with Japan.

It is interesting to ponder application in the Atlantic as well, where China doesn’t have the advantage of a national territorial base at all, or – at least at present – access to foreign ports to support warship operations.  The application would be limited by the geographic dictates of what counts as strategically important, of course.  The calculus of necessity for both defense and power projection in the Atlantic would be different from the Pacific.  The driver in the Atlantic would be the goal of shaping conditions for – basically – the United States, the nation China would most likely be at odds with.

The archipelago of Cabo Verde is too far from North America for land attack cruise missiles to be a directly-relevant factor there, at least at the moment.  (A map is further below, toward the end of the article.)

On the other hand, missiles launched from Cabo Verde could hold portions of Northwest Africa at risk.  An antiship version of China’s long-range CJ-100 cruise missile, which poses a threat out to 1,550 (statute) miles, could menace shipping in the Central and Eastern Atlantic.

Other locations in and around Europe could adversely affect America’s forward defenses, from assets like our missile-defense ships homeported in Rota, Spain to airfields in Greece, Italy, and the UK.

The Caribbean would get China much closer to the United States.  And in the event of increased tensions between China and Canada, centered on China’s evolving claims in the Arctic, militarization of Beijing’s overtures to Greenland would come into play.  (To date, China’s infrastructure proposals in Greenland have been about developing airfields.  The Chinese have shown little overt interest in Greenland’s expanding port at Nuuk, the island’s capital.  Of note, however, China is constructing a small fleet of Arctic-hardened commercial ships for Greenland’s nascent Royal Arctic Line, which will operate from the improved port, and which also manages the Nuuk port’s operations infrastructure.  A foot of Chinese interest is in the door there.)

Why am I giving so much time to speculation about a forward-deployment capability that, while realistic and foreseeable based on known Chinese patterns, has shown no public signs of emerging as yet?

It’s not just because of one of Dyer’s Axioms of Intelligence:  that If you can imagine it, someone is in fact trying to do it.

It’s because we already know China wants to deploy cruise missiles forward, to lurk unsuspected on ships, or ashore, in wait for their use-on-command.

The known known

The missiles in question are shipping-container-launched cruise missiles (a capability pioneered by Russia with the “Club-K”), one of which is the YJ-18C variant.  Virtually all analysis in Western media about this problem centers on the YJ-18, largely because it’s already in service on conventional platforms.  Follow-on containerization of the longer-range CJ-10 and CJ-100 is quite possible, but doesn’t appear close to realization yet.

Club-K Russian container missile, National Air and Space Intelligence Center

Meanwhile, with its shorter range and supersonic approach capability, launching the YJ-18C without any prior alertment for the target would also keep existing missile defenses out of play, pretty much anywhere on the planet.  Except around Washington, D.C, the United States has no relevant missile defense systems on constant alert to such a threat.  (The busy commercial ports of Baltimore, Norfolk, Virginia, and Bayonne, New Jersey, for example, would enable a potential YJ-18C threat to the National Capital Region.)

Google map; author annotation.

Meanwhile, the lurking of a container-missile threat involves the other pieces of our puzzle:  shipping lines like CCP-controlled flagship-line COSCO, which run tame in dozens of ports worldwide and even control their own container terminals in some of them; and China-involved port operations in places like the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Panama, where it would be particularly inconvenient to the United States for such a Chinese arsenal to be lurking.

The proposition really is that China would launch a cruise missile like the YJ-18 from a shipping container, without having to unload it and marry it up with a separate launcher.  I see a launch-from-sea scenario getting the most use if the CCP wants to launch a barrage, but there are locations around the globe where container-borne missiles could be pre-staged ashore, days if not weeks (or years) in advance of a planned operation, and expended in single launches.  Using both capabilities would increase flexibility for the container-launched missile option.

Before we close the circle on this by depicting what it would look like to have container-launched missiles being fielded to numerous such locations – alongside our more traditional military view of the cruise missile threat in the Pacific – we’ll detour through two way points to get our thinking in order.

The first is assurance that Chinese container-shipping companies are really going to do something like this.

Illustration 1:  COSCO

If you need convincing, consider a well-sourced and researched article at Newsweek from October 2022 on our featured Chinese container shipping company, COSCO.

The article details just how subordinated COSCO and its assets actually are to the control of Chinese Communist Party.  It cites “an internal COSCO publication” some 70 pages long, which reveals “how the Communist Party operates inside a company that presents itself as a modern business partner abroad but proclaims at home it ‘follows the party’s direction and sails for the motherland.’”

According to Newsweek, “As a state-owned enterprise, the [Chinese Communist] party’s powerful Organization Department appoints senior officials. COSCO chairman Xu Lirong is also company party secretary. This system is known as ‘one organization, two brands.’”

The COSCO publication presents photos of crew life attending CCP meetings onboard ship and studying “the latest theoretical achievements of the Party,” including “dogmas that permeate life in China, such as ‘enhance the four self-confidences’ …”  Study material proclaims that the “ship’s party branch is ‘a core for uniting the masses and a fortress for overcoming difficulties.’”

Some key excerpts from the article:

Newsweek was able to identify 40 COSCO ships with party branches. According to leaked party lists from Shanghai, the branch on the Piraeus has 64 members, the New York 23, the Africa 52 and the Surabaya 24 — but the data isn’t complete. As “ship-to-shore branches,” they are probably active in overseas ports as well as on high seas.

About 1,000 commissars manage political discipline among crew, Han Chao, secretary of the Crew Party Committee, said in a 2019 report published by the in-house COSCO Shipping Seafarer. There are about 10,000 regular party members among crew and 150 special cadres, a higher kind of functionary, Han said.

The crewmembers are warned that they “‘must prevent the planting of false evidence by foreign hostile forces and safeguard their own rights and interests’ while in overseas ports. …  They must follow Beijing’s ‘foreign affairs discipline.’”

And yes:

It is a risk for other countries, said Martin Hala, the founder of Sinopsis, a think tank in Prague, Czechia.

“Party members are bound by party discipline to carry out whatever tasks the party might require,” Hala said. Chinese citizens are already required by law to cooperate with intelligence services, he noted. “This is one level deeper.”

Chinese media, YouTube

Regarding the strategy of COSCO’s stakes in foreign terminals and port operations, Newsweek summarizes it thus:

“There is a high strategic dimension to taking a stake in a terminal,” says Jan Ninnemann, a logistics professor at the Hamburg School of Business Administration.

Such as having a say over which ships come and go, when cargo is loaded and unloaded, where it goes, Ninnemann said. Other analysts highlight that port and logistics operators handle large amounts of company, transport and personal data in increasingly digitized supply chains, may install China-built internet communication technologies to work these and even access local government administrations.

China’s port acquisitions aim to create “strategic strongpoints,” Kardon says, where different kinds of power flow together, creating leverage.

Having a purchased stake in a terminal gives the COSCO arm of the CCP a board seat for both information and terminal policies.  While local laws aren’t necessarily being contravened, stake-owners have privileged access other shipping companies don’t.  Depending on the host nation’s policies and attitude, it may be a bigger deal to challenge a stake-owner’s actions on such matters as, say, how long a company’s containers linger on docks or in warehouses before being moved onward.

Illustration 2:  Sample locations for missile bust-outs

This set of conditions increases the scope of possibility for the unexpected, in, for example, the U.S. ports where COSCO has terminal stakes: Seattle, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Houston, and Miami.

In 2019, the Washington Free Beacon cited China expert Rick Fisher, Senior Fellow on Asian Military Affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, on a possible employment scenario for a container-launched YJ-18:

“Shipping container missile launchers can be smuggled through ports or via highway ports of entry and stored for years in a climate-controlled building within range of U.S. military bases, and taken out when needed for military operations,” [Fisher] added.

Container missiles also can be deployed on commercial ships that can sail off U.S. coasts or within American ports prior to a conflict.

“Potentially, Chinese missile launching containers could be stored near the Port of Seattle, waiting for the day they can launch an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warhead-armed missiles over the Bangor nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) base,” Fisher said.

“The EMP blast might take out electronics on the [submarines] and all over the base without having to launch a nuclear missile from China. Washington would be in chaos, would not know against whom to retaliate, and perhaps China uses American distraction to begin its real objective, the military conquest of Taiwan.”

Such an EMP blast could also, of course, affect the aircraft carrier base at Kitsap, and indeed the civilian infrastructure in the entire Seattle metro area.

COSCO terminal (Terminal 30) at the Port of Seattle. Bonus: location of the nearby Krispy Kreme. One of the benefits of Google maps/satellite imagery. Author annotation.
Google map; author annotation.

With container-launched missiles, similar effects could be achieved from Los Angeles or Long Beach on the southern California coast, an area home to a sprawling complex of Naval bases that host carriers, attack submarines, amphibious ships, and numerous escort warships and support ships, as well as military logistics hubs, including a fleet weapons depot.  The Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps all have major bases within YJ-18 reach in the area.

COSCO’s terminal complex at Long Beach, one of the busiest ports in the Western hemisphere, is enormous.

Google satellite image; author annotation.
Google map; author annotation.

As with Seattle, container-launched missiles could wreak havoc with the civilian infrastructure as well – which within the YJ-18’s range affects some 24 million people in SoCal alone.  An additional 6-7 million could be affected in northern Baja California and the Las Vegas metro area in Nevada.

As shown on the map, container-launched missiles from the vicinity of Mexico’s Port of Ensenada (where China has marine-services projects and considerable shipping throughput) could achieve effects stretching across Mexico’s northern border and reaching as far as the Phoenix metro, with its 5 million people, and northward through the increasingly populated I-17 corridor toward Flagstaff, Arizona.

Take note at this point that we’ve considered here only the container-launched cruise missile scenario.  But other munitions staged in containers – not necessarily missiles – could create havoc at the port and thus cause a cascading sequence of hybrid-war consequences for the target(s).  The combined effects of a damaging, kinetic eruption at a major port or intermodal hub, and the aftermath of suspicion and alarm – including work stoppages and security sweeps as well as assessments and repairs – could be a severe blow to operations for months.

And, of course, shipping containers could infiltrate flocks of drones and electronic collection devices, for on-call reconnaissance to support many forms of hybrid operations.

Busting out all over?

This article has so far been building up to the next map below.

See various links above and below for sourcing, especially the group of links in the last paragraph of the “Fraternal peace ports” section. The treatment here (one of the links in that group) served as a useful filter and scoping device for what is a vast array of data points for potential inclusion. Some of the Chinese projects are not yet finalized or are on hold; the legend indicates which ones. Note on the YJ-18 rings for the southern tip of South America: they appear much larger than the others due to the map projection and proximity to the South Pole. They reflect the same YJ-18C range as the others. Google map; author annotation.

The potential scenarios described above could be set up in any of the ports shown – as well as others not depicted.  The ports included on this map graphic are just the ones where China has specific interests and investments (and these are by no means all of those ports).  Chinese container shipping goes to other ports throughout the Americas, even where Chinese companies don’t have infrastructure investments or levers of control.

In conjunction with more traditional military capabilities operationalized by China, this display should convey an accurate and illuminating perspective on the potential for hybrid warfare.

But it’s also essential to note that it would have traditional military-strategic effects as well.  To illustrate those, let’s look at just a couple of areas where China is capable of infiltrating container-launched YJ-18s through commercial shipping.

See the Bahamas, for example, and note the coverage of YJ-18Cs launched from Freeport or Abaco Island.  A number of major military facilities in Florida, as well as civilian infrastructure (including the space launch facility at Cape Canaveral), are within range.  As with the Seattle scenario outlined by Rick Fisher, missiles from Grand Bahama could also be used, potentially in an EMP attack, to affect the ballistic missile submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia (though at the extreme edge of the range).  “Hybrid” warfare has an array of options here.

Google map; author annotation.

But from a conventional, force-on-force military perspective, missiles from the Bahamas and the South Florida Container Terminal in Miami would also cover – and hold at risk – the entire Florida Straits chokepoint, a key geographic feature not only for commercial shipping but for U.S. military operations and security.

Likewise, container-launched missiles from Cuba and Jamaica (see also here, here, here) would extend threat coverage against maritime targets, including naval warships, well south into the Caribbean.

Google map; author annotation.

Add missiles from Antigua and Barbuda (see also here) and the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal:

Google map; author annotation
Multiple development areas with major Chinese investment on Antigua Island. A new port is planned for the “Yida Colony” on the northeast side of the island. See this Guardian article for more.

The presence and selective use of such a hidden arsenal could rapidly throw U.S. and local partners’ naval operations into disarray in the Caribbean.

But it could do more than that.  Suppose, for example, China’s PLAN had even a small task force of warships deployed to the Caribbean.  The ships, armed as depicted in our previous Pacific overviews, might be conducting port visits in Cuba or Venezuela, or even Panama.  They might be in the area for a period of weeks holding exercises with regional nations.  In such a scenario, U.S. thinking would probably be conditioned to perceive this as a relatively normal pattern, or at least one that didn’t inherently raise immediate alarms.

If China were to inaugurate a period of high tensions with the United States, the maritime threat picture in the Caribbean, instead of looking something like this:

Google map; author annotation.

…could well look like this:

Google map; author annotation.

But it’s conceivable we wouldn’t realize the threat looked like view number two – until, well, we did realize it.

Other ports, other options

The material presented above is a lot to take in.  However, it’s worth looking (briefly) at just a few more situations to understand the truly pervasive scope of the problem as of 2023.  Far more of the globe than not has the potential now to be in play in this regard; the maps at the Newsweek treatment make that clear.

We aren’t even giving attention to China’s massive transportation infrastructure and shipping presence in Europe and South Asia.  We haven’t looked at the full array of overseas infrastructure China has controlling stakes in, which includes industrial power-generation facilities, intermodal transport hubs, and rail transport and highways among other features.  Militarizing such infrastructure is one of the chief reasons for building it; Americans usually forget that our own interstate highway system and the load capacity of our roads and bridges are justified and determined by military requirements.  (We classify bridges as to whether they can support main battle tank movements, for example.)

Mentioned earlier was the Chinese investment in Cabo Verde, off Northwest Africa, where land reclamation is involved in building a casino complex on the island of Santiago.

The peaceful main port of Cabo Verde on Sao Vicente Island, pre-expansion. Google Street View.

The Chinese are also making port infrastructure improvements on the northern island of São Vicente, where Cabo Verde intends to establish a Special Economic Zone to attract shipping and trade.  This project may entail land reclamation as well, although I haven’t seen specific reporting of it yet.  The SEZ project will, however, include a shipyard and ship repair facility.

As noted earlier, YJ-18Cs deployed to Cabo Verde couldn’t hit much of anything – but the longer-range CJ-10 and CJ-100 could.  Deployment of the longer-range missiles, down the road, might be possible with containerization or a VLS apparatus.

Google map; author annotation.
Google map; author annotation.

Advancing through this section (with just a couple more stops), we need to take note that China likes to make infrastructure investments a pretext for introducing a “security” presence overseas.  Wherever we see Belt and Road investing, that should be an immediate consideration for intelligence collection and analysis.  What is the CCP doing to “provide security” for its investment?

Don’t get bore-sighted on single nations either.  The CCP will look for the path of least resistance to find willing regional hosts for the “security” presence.  But where it patrols, once it’s hosted, will be determined by all the Chinese investments and equities in the surrounding area.  Fisheries concessions and Chinese investment in offshore oil infrastructure are some likely pretexts down the road for deploying patrol assets from regional host nations.

The patrol assets themselves will be working for the CCP and the PLAN, whether their hulls are painted gray or not.  And where patrol assets go (or even just a fishing fleet), shore-based logistic support follows.  Containers linked to China’s declared “security” arrangements start to show up.

A good example is China’s rapid militarization of investments in Djibouti, predicated on antipiracy operations offshore, after a U.S.-led coalition broadly internationalized the antipiracy enterprise (which was done at the very end of the Bush 43 administration, in 2008).  We ushered China in the door there.

Anywhere China is investing, such dynamics can come into play.  And if Cabo Verde isn’t within  missile range of the Strait of Gibraltar, Tangier, Morocco is.  Major and rapidly expanding port facilities in Tangier are part of the Terminal Link network we looked at above:  the joint, co-owned enterprise of CMA CGM  and China Merchants Port (CMPort).  Chinese companies have been key participants in the expansion.  As noted earlier, Chinese also work closely with Netherlands-based APM, which operates the terminal just west of the Eurogate terminal.

Google satellite imagery; author annotation. Handy to the terminals: a weddings venue (salle de mariage) in case you’re in the area and find yourself needing one.

From Tangier, Chinese container-launched missiles could affect America’s NATO ally Spain, including the U.S. military assets hosted there, as well as our longstanding partner Morocco.  And, of course, the YJ-18C would hold at risk both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, a chokepoint with great significance for U.S. security.

Google maps; author annotation.

If Beijing were to seek short-term basing access for forward naval deployments to the Mediterranean, the nations of Libya and Algeria would probably be better bets over the next few years, as matters stand today.  But, as in the Caribbean, Type 052D destroyers operating out of, say, Tripoli or Benghazi could fall in on YJ-18Cs staged in Tangier, and create a pop-up risk to the Strait of Gibraltar.


This isn’t just about how Beijing’s strategists see Chinese interests.  It’s about their understanding of how we see U.S. interests – an understanding that’s better than most Americans’.

A core pillar of our vision since the earliest days of the Republic has been the importance of a pacified Mediterranean and an open Strait of Gibraltar – a chokepoint that can’t be controlled against our interests by an opponent – on the other side of our Atlantic Ocean bastion.  Maintaining those conditions is smarter and more efficient than defending “closer” to North America and living in perpetual concern that the entire Atlantic could become a high-risk axis to us.

Alliances and forward-deployed assets have been our means of routinely enforcing those conditions since the end of World War II.  But China could be finding a way to get in under those precautions and hold a core pillar of U.S. security at risk:  on a timeline that might not be forever, but could well be long enough to adversely affect our strategic decision-making and our will when new problems arise.

This complex of factors, in light of where Chinese interests are being established geographically, is how we must think, if we are to appreciate all of what Chinese movements mean.  China’s continental expanse makes her a formidable regional power, but genuine competition with the United States requires being a global one.  And global leverage is as much about geography as it is about economics and abstract (e.g., numerical) measures of military might. 

As in the South China Sea, where China has been artificially extending her “territory” by establishing a form of quasi-land-based presence to reify the Nine-Dash Line, China is artificially extending her “territorial interests” with the Belt and Road Initiative.  While the BRI is overtly about economics, it is fatal to insist that it’s only about economics.  One of its key goals is surrounding the United States geographically – something China can’t do from within the confines of her limited, sub-continental boundaries.

So the dynamic, multifaceted, hybrid approach is coming from our east – through the chokepoints of Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, up to our doorstep in the Caribbean – as well as across the Pacific from the west, where we’re better alerted to “China” and all that the CCP has had China doing for the last 30 years.

Building a casino and shipyard in Cabo Verde isn’t being undertaken because China needs a casino there, or much needs a shipyard there at the moment.  Given the small numbers involved in terms of likely traffic and profits, it’s not because the projects there will be killer money-makers.  It’s because getting on the ground and slinging infrastructure in Cabo Verde puts China on the west side of Africa, facing North America directly on the perimeter of the U.S’s Atlantic Ocean bastion.

To a lesser but still significant extent, hybrid-warfare potential is part of the Chinese development program in Nigeria, where China is heavily invested in the ports (here, here, here, here), other transport modes, and the oil and gas industry.  China has also been a major presence in illegal fishing in Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), an ironic pattern considering (a) the link between illegal fishing off Nigeria and piracy, and (b) China’s use of antipiracy operations to justify establishing a forward naval base on the other side of Africa, in Djibouti.

At any rate, we will close this section with a look at the potential interplay of Chinese capabilities and Chinese interests in Cabo Verde and Nigeria.  Briefing to this map graphic:

Google map; author annotation.

The usual caveat here:  this isn’t and cannot be a comprehensive presentation of potential moving parts.

But it shows how China’s existing and projected, near-term capabilities, deployed in service of some of the geographically defined “interests” now being cultivated, could significantly militarize an area that at the moment is characterized by very little militarization, other than coastal patrols by the regional nations.

The container-launched YJ-18Cs, as previously noted, wouldn’t reach very far from either Nigeria (where China’s port investments center on Lagos) or Cabo Verde.  The port of Lomé, in Togo, is also shown with a YJ-18C range ring because of China’s level of investment there.

(And aside from Beijing’s current investment profile, Lomé is an interesting location because it hosted Soviet navy patrol ships toward the end of the Cold War.  The Soviets maintained a so-called “fisheries patrol” off the West African coast in the late 1970s and 1980s, which seemed to emerge more in sync with Soviet-backed activity in Angola than with actual security concerns about the fishing fleet.  Hold this thought; it will come up again.)

The map shows how projected longer-range missiles (in this case the CJ-100) would affect the threat environment in the region, if they can eventually be launched from shipping containers or special launcher infrastructure installed during land-reclamation development projects.  (A CJ-100 threat from Djibouti is included as well.)

Depicted also is a Type 055 destroyer patrolling off West Africa.  (Type 052Ds are likely to be deployed initially.)  The scenario here would be one in which China has established a commonality of interests with at least one local nation – or perhaps has embroiled a small nation in sufficient debt to extract concessions from it like access to a port for logistic support during deployment.  China might patrol for “fishing fleet security,” either high-handedly without the concurrence of local nations, or with the concurrence of at least one.

Patrolling might also “assist” Nigeria (or Togo or other nations) in the fight against piracy, which affects commercial shipping and the oil and gas trade, some of China’s premier regional investments.

The development work and Chinese stake in infrastructure in Cabo Verde would serve as an excuse to patrol at least that far north.  China’s pursuit of interests in Western Sahara and Morocco could take patrols even further.  But as with the Soviet patrol during the Cold War, the real driver is likely to be geopolitical and about military power projection.

A Type 055 is also situated off Djibouti in this presentation.  The PLAN has had surface combatant patrols in that area for some time.

The Type 055s in both patrol areas are shown with CJ-10A cruise missiles, and would have YJ-18s as well.

Another interesting note:  the potential presence of Chinese assets of this kind would directly affect a key U.S. strategic outreach; namely, our partnership operations with nations in the Africa Command (AFRICOM) theater.  Since AFRICOM became operational in 2008, we have conducted a number of joint exercises along the African coastline using gray-hull ships that have some tremendous capabilities, and proudly fly our national ensign, but that have little ability by themselves to defend against the weapons on a Type 052D or Type 055.

Examples include an expeditionary support base (ESB) ship, and some of our smaller amphibious ships that carry lots of U.S. Marines and their amphibious assault gear, but not much in the way of naval self-defense weapons.

As long as there are no capital ships (or missile threats) from a non-friendly foreign navy in the area, our more lightly-defended ships can be used, unescorted, for naval outreach.  But if a patrol presence from Chinese destroyers became routine, Aegis (cruiser/destroyer) escort would be a necessity.  The already overtasked Aegis fleet would become a limiting factor.

Finally, lest we forget:  a Chinese container ship is depicted west of the Strait of Gibraltar, a reminder that if the PLAN orchestrates a multi-asset bust-out to impress someone with maritime risk, a YJ-18C launch from a container ship at sea could be mere hours or even moments away.

The YJ-18C threat ring over the Suez Canal, meanwhile, is presented notionally as coming from a container ship in Port Suez (the southern marshalling port for the Canal transit convoys).

Mix ’em and match ’em.  This is hybrid warfare, as realistic factors – most already existing and in-pattern – would set it up.

Hybrid warfare is not just for power and communication outages, loss of computerized controls, or ambiguous phenomena that could be accidental.  (Or for a confusing profusion of balloons, for that matter.)  It’s for pop-up, military, kinetic targeting and effects too.

Afterword: Up, up and away*

[Note: I am leaving this earlier discussion, from Wednesday 8 February, as-is.  The points are still valid, although we’ve learned more about the Chinese balloon since then.  Unsurprisingly, it was festooned with electronic collection antennas.  I would expect it to also have imaging sensors, whose use would benefit from the balloon’s altitude – around 60,000 feet – and its long dwell, which can’t be replicated by satellites passing overhead or power-flight aircraft.  From 60,000 feet, the balloon could have imaged hundreds of thousands of square miles in multiple snaps or continuous video across the United States, over the five days it spent in the Lower 48.]

On Thursday 2 February 2023, Americans learned that a Chinese surveillance balloon had been making its way through U.S. airspace, operating around 60,000 feet, since it first entered over the Aleutian Islands on 27 January.

The balloon that started it all. Social media video.

The story started out garbled and has been garbled ever since.  There is no realistic excuse for this, in a context of honest media coverage or government briefings to the public.  A series of contradictory leaks, all harping on the theme that former President Trump faced the same or a similar problem but failed to act as alertly or prudently as President Biden – or would have failed in that regard if he’d been told about the previous balloons – has burned Biden’s credibility on this matter to the ground.

The sound of good-faith advisories has been completely absent:  the sound of an organized and logical defense/intelligence assessment of the situation, including what we know from experience with any previous balloons.

So Americans are cynical about the timeline of the Biden administration’s response to the balloon.  The airborne craft was allowed to complete a transit over the United States – in other words, complete its intelligence mission – and then shot down by an F-22 fighter just off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The Navy dispatched assets to guard the debris field and salvage what remained of the wreck.  (A hint about the possibility of “explosives” being loaded on the balloon was thrown into the defense summary after the shootdown, apparently to justify not shooting it down over land.  The story was that such explosives would be there so the balloon could blow itself up rather than be captured.  But that story was as ragged-ended as all the other story changes:  Hitting a large, three-bus-size container with a fuzed explosive device inside it, using an AIM-9X Sidewinder, probably wouldn’t have the implied detonating effect.)

The balloon’s mystery was “blown,” in terms of its individual instance and its category of detectable threat, as soon as it was sighted by civilians over Montana last week.  It was time to give serious, coherent updates rather than tax he people’s patience with irrelevant narrative points.  There was no justification for advising the public about the balloon problem-set in a series of disjointed “leaks” focused on Donald Trump.  But that’s what the Biden administration and the media did.

In light of that transparently political use of information, it’s not incumbent on us to believe anything the administration or media is putting out.  Another very good reason for that is that the packaging of the information has been so garbled and unprofessional.

If we really have all this information, we had it when the balloon was first detected over the Aleutians 13 days ago.  That means that within a few hours, 13 days ago, our government agencies already had a straight story, and in normal times would have told us the straight story in a single briefing on 2 February, if not sooner.

Keep in mind, the balloon is blown.  The straight story could be conveyed coherently and unambiguously, without compromising intelligence sources or methods.

If we did believe some of the garbled narrative, however, the best candidate for belief is the claim that there have been some 10 balloon detections in recent years that came close enough to U.S. airspace to collect intelligence on American territory.  Noteworthy about this is that only one of the claimed balloons was depicted as potentially in U.S. airspace, using information apparently given to the media by someone in the Biden administration.

That balloon is the one seen over the Great Lakes on the Fox presentation.  It could have been in U.S. or Canadian airspace; it isn’t clear.

None of the other balloon detections shown was in U.S. airspace, or even potentially so, if we go by the graphic presentation.  So this “update” from Monday (6 February) only suggests we knew, or came to know, about Chinese balloons we could do nothing about anyway.  None of them was the same situation as a balloon that was detected on 27 January 2023 over the Aleutians (probably in U.S. airspace; unquestionably in the Alaskan ADIZ) and then meandered through U.S. and Canadian airspace for 11 days.

There’s another noteworthy detail attending the 10-balloon tale.  It’s that one Chinese-balloon event is missing.  That event is the one the public actually knew about before the latest balloon showed up.  It was unearthed almost immediately last week, and turned out to not only be known about, from February 2022, but to have involved an interception in the Hawaii ADIZ – apparently just at the 12 nautical mile edge of U.S. airspace – by F-22 fighters.

It isn’t clear why this event was left out of the list.  But it would seem to be by far the most obvious event for inclusion.  It speaks poorly of the current administration’s bona fides that it was omitted.

All that said, because it needed to be said, the two publicly-documented balloon events (Hawaii, February 2022; continental U.S. airspace January-February 2023) are enough to clarify that China has this capability and is prepared to enter U.S. airspace without permission in order to use it.

It’s another reason not to doubt that the CCP will use a container-launched missile capability to do what container-launched missiles were developed to do.

Coda:  On Friday 10 February, a U.S. F-22 shot down an unidentified, floating “cylindrical” object just off the coast of Alaska northeast of Prudhoe Bay.  On Saturday, another unidentified airborne object was shot down by fighters under NORAD direction near Mayo, Canada, in Yukon Territory.

A second NORAD-response event occurred on Saturday at the border between Montana and Alberta.  Although members of Montana’s congressional delegation were being advised that there was an “object” being tracked, I saw a Fox News report at the end of the event stating that the “object” had been determined to be a “radar anomaly.”

And on Sunday 12 February, another shootdown was reported over the Great Lakes, apparently of the same object dismissed as a radar anomaly in northern Montana on Saturday.  It seems to have migrated along our northern border in the interval between that event and the response over Lake Huron.

To say it’s not clear what’s going on is to put it mildly.  One way of expressing it:  somebody’s all up in our Kool-Aid.

* OK, fine:  now the military says the airborne objects they’ve been responding to for the last week are not balloons, and defense analysts don’t know what they are, or how they stay afloat.

As I understand it, the first airborne objected detected, the one shot down off South Carolina on 6 February, was a balloon.  It certainly looked like one, though that may change.

Not going to go back and change the word “balloon” everywhere it occurs here.  

Feature image:  COSCO terminal at the Port of Long Beach. YouTube, HenryBlvd.


9 thoughts on “China goes down to the sea: Putting the “hybrid” in warfare (Bonus update: Biden’s excellent balloon* adventure)”

  1. Lots of info. Takes the easy one. Balloons of course.

    While satellite can support all levels of warfare, (Strategic, Operational, Tactical) balloons are best suited for supporting Tactical ops). Given that no one can conceive of a tactical CCP op in the works, one might conclude this is being done to feed war planners/gamers on the tactical level in practicing and refining their craft or plans. Tactical types always have lots of questions and would over burden the satellite/folk with requests. Giving them their own piece of pie to feast on makes sense. Also getting the kind of data balloon surveillance can provide is not going to be available in any type of high or mid intensity conflict so getting it now while Biden’s giving it away makes sense.

  2. Fascinating, yet terrifying to imagine missile launching shipping containers lurking in every port. JED – will HASC Mike Rogers invite you to testify? After he updates HASC website to actually list all ctte. members, ships more artillery shells to Kiev, and breaks Gaetz’s nose. ☺

    On the bright side, the crushing economic sanctions on Russia have led to the very real move away from the US$ as global reserve currency by China, India, KSA, UAE, Russia, and other G20 economies. OPEC+ easily shifts to not-Western customers. RoW lost trust in the US by the freezing of Russian and Afghan Central Bank assets. Being bullied by US no longer works. De-dollarization and re-alignment from a US’ uni-polar hegemony to a multi-polar world can no longer be stopped.
    Who will remain to buy? US Government Debt, 1965 (near 0) to 2022 (30 trillion$).

    Why is that bright? No one needs to launch any missiles in such economic and political warfare.

    otoh, USAID Samantha Power announce the launching of a new Color Revolution in Hungary, between Feb 9 and 12th:

    10:43 AM · Feb 12, 2023 @PowerUSAID
    At a press gaggle in Budapest, I was asked about Hungarian officials’ criticisms of the US position on Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine. My response: [1:30 minute must read]

    Same CR tactics since 2011 Egypt through 2020 USA. nudge, nudge.

    THIS has also had a great impact on the RoW: Detailed support for Hersh on Nord Stream, a longish read quoting Hans Mahncke, co-host of “Truth Over News” on EpochTV; two Norwegian investigative journalists, & Wall Street analyst:

    Feb 11 2023 Why Hersh’s Nord Stream Bombshell May Become Legal Nightmare for Team Biden & Its Nordic Allies […] “You are assuming I am done reporting…not so,” Hersh told Sputnik.

    Mahncke is a great twitter source, so I took the leap to read Sputnik, and, am impressed by this report. Yes, I know Lee Smith is skeptical, but, more important what India, Indonesia, Brazil, Panama, and, even Morocco, think.
    Too tired to do an edit.

  3. Seems like Emperor Xi the Pooh has been laying the groundwork for something, but it has been going on for longer than he’s been in control.

  4. The US show of force during the Super Bowl consisted of a girls-only flyover and a troop formation on deck of an aircraft carrier dressed in rainbow colors. I am not trying to be sexist, just that “you fight like a girl” is not usually how militaries project force.

    So the Chinese can easily do a Lao Tzu-style takedown of the US, with few shots fired. OK. We are playing tic-tac-toe while they play chess, and checkmate is looming. Then what?

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