So Top Gun makes the rounds as a Chinese military drone in the Chinese sponsored State media. The state run TV station, CCTV, has been known to "fudge" stories with material from other sources from time to time, so this isn't that surprising.
But how about a little paranoia...just for fun.
The Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) is HUGE. They have, at almost any given moment, close to 3 million people in uniform on active service. Thats about as much as the US has in both active and reserve component status (including IRR soldiers who are in fact civilians for all intent purposes but still subject to mobilization). The PLA also encompases their Air Force and strategic missle units (which in the US fall under the Air Force). China maintains an seperate naval force called the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Its strength in the world ranks only second to the US in sheer numbers of sailor and vessels. While the US has scaled back on building new ships, the Chinese have begun to launch new vessels on a regular basis.
Since the last 1980's and early 1990's china has been on a mad dash to modernize and revamp its military. For a long time they had relied on sheer numbers as a means of strategy. Throw a million men with pointed sticks at the enemy and something is bound to happen, right? Wrong. The first Iraq war in 1991 showed how superior technology and training could overwhelm a numerically superior force. That made the Chinese leadership choke on their egg rolls for sure.
Since then (and actually before) China has been on a not-so-covertly operation of subversion and espi0nage directed against the US and other world powers to acquire new technology. They have been able to sucessfuly steal US nuclear and defensive technologies, penetrate secure defense networks, our power grid (imagine the horror if a preemptive strike was prefaced by dropping power to the continental US) and has even launched cyber attacks against the US in recent years. Some say the next world war is already being fought in cyberspace...and we are losing.
So what does all of this have to do with a bogus video?
Remember that both the PLA/PLAN and CCTV are all run by the media. The Chinese know that we are monitoring every ELINT (electronic intelligence..TV, radio, internet, ect) source on them we can get to. So why would they plant such an obvious fake right in front of our eyes?
Here's where it gets really tin foil paranoid....
The country of China has existed, at least as a cultural entity, for thousands of years...over 4,000 of them. Yes thousands, not a couple hundred and change like us...but thousands. At one time China was THE superpower for centuries. While Europe was undergoing a "dark age", China flourished. Some of its ancient engineering projects would be daunting to engineers of our day, but were done and completed. They even had this guy called Sun Tzu..
Yep, Sun Tzu himself. The great General who took time out of conquering most of the land mass of Asia to write a little piece called "The Art of War" which has been used to this day to teach some of the intricacies of waging war. In a lot of his teachings, Sun Tzu emphasizes the use of spies and misinformation to put your enemy in a position of comfort or disadvantage before attacking them.
Like I said the Chinese knew that we would be watching them. When I said "we" I was indicating both the military AND civilian entities. While I doubt many people in the realm of military intelligence would have taken the video clip of their launch as creditable (I mean Top Gun is still a pop culture icon in the West) and realized the Chinese are capable of much more, many (most) civilians will not. Even though the Chinese civilization has been around for 4,000+ years it has kind of been in a "slump" in recent US memory. I mean, you can't be on top of your game all the time...a lesson I fear the US will have to learn sooner than later.
Over the course of its history the dynastys that had ruled China had become corrupt and broken down to the point that Western governments were able to flex their influence into the region. the British even claimed a city and harbor as their own (hong Kong of course) until 1997..even telling the Communist revolution to "kiss their bloody arses" when it came about. This has lead to a popular misconception of the Chinese as a mild and almost childish race in some popular stereotypes. While at the same time we also have portrayed them as great kung fu warriors and green suited Maoist villians for movies. In any case, the media we view in the West generally portrays Western individuals and ways as superior to the Chinese when it comes to conflict. And thats the way I think the Chinese like it...
While there is obvious abundant proof that China is both an economic and military powerhouse, in my opinion the average American perception of the Chinese has not fundamentally changed. When we do recognize that they are a major manufacturing power and military giant we often say (and I am guilty of this too).."well, China would never want to attack its biggest trading partner". Guess what, Japan and Germany were trading partners too before WW2. I think the Chinese are shrewd enough to realize that the "news bite" length attention span of Americans (quick..what was the name of the homless guy with the golden radio voice discovered here in Columbus last month....see, knew you'd forget!) can be fooled by little bits of misinformation like that and made to believe that they are less of a threat than they are. They placed their chips on not that we WOULDN'T catch the gaffe with the Top Gun footage..but we WOULD. "Oh, look those silly Chinese can't even test a missle test correctly..ha ha..we still rule". Remember...misinformation. If you want to put your enemy at ease don't make yourself such a threat.
The Chinese have also learned the lessons taught by watching our collective reaction as a nation to wars fought in Vietnam, the Gulf, Kosovo, Iraq and other places. They know the perception of the American public can go a long way to shaping US foreign policy. By making themselves self depreciating to the American public they can successfully put themselves in a political position with us to start a conflict while we debate their true intent.
You have to remember that China is a (re)emerging manufacturing giant. They need resources and will expand their base of power to get what they need to survive. Its only natural for them to do so as a country, and also as naturally there may be some conflict caused by this. We have gone through this as well about the time the US abandoned the Monroe Doctrine and isolationism and Teddy Roosevelt sailed the Great White Fleet around the world as we emerged to gather power in the Pacific and around the globe. Its also by this means that we came into conflict with Japan (formerly and ally) before WW2. Not enough toys to play with nicely and two big bullies on the playground...someone is going to get their nose bloodied.
Now I don't think the Chinese want an all out war with us. Their transformation from a littoral (close into shore, shallow water) to a deep water navy should be expected by a rising power for security. We dealt with it with the Soviets and will do with them as well. Hopefully we won't have to go to some of the extremes that we have in the past with the Russians playing cat and mouse in the middle of the ocean with nuclear flashlights...but that is a just wishful thinking. The Chinese are not helpless victims of their own fate and success here. I do not intend to convey that at all. They know what they are doing..especially since they are using some stolen technology they got from us to do it. They have even done some provocation of their own in the past...such as popping a diesel-electric attack sub up in the middle of one of OUR carrier groups..Reportedly to piss off the Americans, after the Chinese surfaced a sailor popped out on deck with a paper bag and shouted over a intercom to the US sailors on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk "who ordered the General Tso chicken with fried rice, egg roll and hot and sour soup?"..see, even I downplay the seriousness of this..
What I do think we need to do collectively is realize that China is indeed the 2nd major superpower on the planet after us. In some ways (economically) it could be argued that it is THE superpower right now (you don't want to know how much debt the US has is owned or has been bought by the Chinese...they could evict the entire West Coast for payment). We need as a nation, not just those in the intelligence service, realize the threat that China presents and act accordingly. Not overtly and in a hostile manner....just keep an eye on them and realize that not everything is or may be how it seems.
OK, now how is THAT for some first rate black helicopter thinking there...thats what I get for staying up too late drinking Big K Citrus Drop soda. Time to hit the hay..I'll set this to publish tomorrow in the morning so I can see how paranoid I made myself.