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A Vital Warning About China and the Looming 'Decade of Concern'

We hear a lot these days about China's rising threat to America, but just how dangerous is it? As part of an intensive effort to answer that question, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held an open hearing Thursday on "China's Worldwide Military Expansion." It was a riveting two hours, crammed with credible, well-documented testimony about China's plans to wield both military and economic means to transform itself over the next three decades into the dominant world power  -- an ambition that could translate much sooner into war.

Committee Chairman Devin Nunes warned that decades of U.S. appeasement have failed to improve China's relations with the U.S. Instead, said Nunes, "China has only become emboldened and may now be the preeminent threat to American security, our economy , and our values." The entire hearing is well worth watching; a video is available on the committee web site. All the written statements are worth reading in full, and an excellent summary of the hearing can be found in Bill Gertz's dispatch, in the Free Beacon, headlined "China 'Dream' is Global Hegemony."

But I'd like to draw attention here to the testimony of one witness in particular: retired U.S. Navy Captain James Fanell. Prior to his retirement in 2015, Fanell served as director of intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

I have the good fortune to know Jim Fanell, though it's a relatively short acquaintance. In 2016 I coauthored an article with him, on the need for tougher U.S. pushback against China's maritime misconduct (the expertise was his, my contribution was as a reporter and Op-ed writer). But that is not why I mention him here. I am doing that because I have read his written testimony, and it is a tour de force -- the kind of warning that will either be heeded now, or historians will look back on it someday, and ask why America's politicians and leaders, who had the power to act before it was too late, failed to listen.

For this hearing, Fanell produced a written statement so clear, thorough and profoundly alarming that it deserves much more than simply being entered into the congressional record. It deserves to be adopted as a primary text for anyone trying to understand what China is doing today, where China is heading and why it is so dangerous.

Most to the point, Fanell's statement deserves a wide reading by an American public that would surely wish to avoid a 21st century variation on Pearl Harbor. Fanell explains in meticulous and persuasive detail why it is becoming mortally important for the U.S. to begin taking major actions now "to avoid geo-political defeat globally and a likely naval disaster, the likes of which we have not experienced since the early, dark days of World War II."