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Default The Winter War Pt 3

Webstral 06-23-2004, 04:05 AM By the end of 1995, the People's Republic of China was in an unenviable position. Much of Manchuria was in Soviet hands, denying the PRC a substantial portion of its agricultural base and industrial power. The PLA had been very roughly handled during the Soviet offensive in August and September, losing thousands of fighting vehicles and more than 200,000 troops. Hundreds more fighting vehicles and more than 75,000 troops had been lost during Operation Red Willow, which had failed to achieve its goal of inflicting a major defeat on the Far Eastern TVD. After four months of high-tempo combat against a numerically and technologically superior foe, the PLAAF was a shadow of its pre-war self. The Soviet Air Force had turned its full fury on Beijing in December; the bombardment lifted at the end of the month largely because there was so little left worth destroying. It was clear that the rest of the country was now open to attack from the air. There were no immediate prospects for a counteroffensive in Manchuria. The traditional Chinese advantages of space and manpower were greatly diminished in the context of China's efforts to become a major industrial power; Soviet air power could smash factories without facing Chinese infantry. What was the point of eventual victory if the price meant China's dreams of becoming a superpower were put back two generations? Though China had not been defeated outright, Premier Zhu had very little reason to see hope for the short and medium terms were China to continue the fight with her own resources.

The support that kept China fighting came from the West--principally the United States. Since the start of the Sino-Soviet War, American sympathies had been with China. The large and vocal Chinese expatriate community in the United States had helped turn an American predisposition in favor of China into a remarkable base of support. In general, the American people saw China as an heroic underdog victimized by naked Soviet aggression. Congress and the American business community saw the possibilities involved with reconstruction in post-war China. Fervent anti-Soviets saw the usefulness of helping China inflict a reversal on Moscow. The stage was set for a major American investment in China's fate.

Within a week of the start of the Sino-Soviet War, Beijing was exploring the possibilities of an extended war. Analysts charged with outlining a worst-case scenario had produced, among others, some models that looked amazingly like what was actually happening in China. By the second week in September, China's representatives in Washington were exploring the possibility of buying large quantities of industrial machinery and defense items. The loss of significant quantities of industrial machinery in Harbin, Shenyang*, and other Manchurian manufacturing centers meant that China's efforts to replace her losses (already major by mid-September) would be badly hampered until she could replace the assembly lines. Though China's manufacturing capacity in 1995 was impressive, much of it was devoted to the production of consumer goods for the West. Like the United States in 1941, China would need significant retooling of her surviving industry before she would be ready to wage all-out industrial war. Whether the PLA was able to liberate Manchuria or not, China would need new machines and machine tools as soon as she could get them. The first most obvious place to look was the United States.

*[Author's note: In keeping with my efforts to upset the canon timeline as little as possible, previous installments of The Sino-Soviet War should be understood to reflect the Soviets' capture of Shenyang prior to the start of Operation Red Willow. However, in keeping with the spirit of a significant Soviet withdrawal as a result of the Chinese counteroffensive, China recaptures Shenyang during the course of Operation Red Willow. The Soviets destroy as much as possible in situ before making their breakout bid.]

The Sino-American relationship in 1995 was a curious one. As undisputed leader of the capitalist, democratic world the United States was an ideological opponent of Communist China. Yet as trade partners, the US and China enjoyed a substantial and growing trade. Differences over ideology and human rights had not prevented the US from running up a trade deficit with China that was estimated at $45 billion in 1994. Human rights and political freedom issues had done little to slow the proliferation in the US of products bearing the label MADE IN CHINA. The subject of exactly how the United States was going to redress this trade imbalance--i.e., by getting the Chinese to buy more American goods--had become more than lukewarm in Congress. And there was the fact that the PRC was now involved in a war with the real Communist devil, the USSR. As a result, the Chinese ambassador to the United States received an amazingly warm welcome at the White House when he appeared to discuss massive purchases of industrial and defense hardware in September, 1995.

The United States was delighted to provide as much industrial machinery as China could purchase. As soon as word got out that China was preparing to go shopping, American industrialists applied the full measure of their influence with Congress to speed a deal through the system. Initially, however, defense purchases proved more of a problem. China wanted to replace destroyed and captured materiel--principally armored fighting vehicles, soft-skinned transport, aircraft, self-propelled artillery, air defense systems, and electronics. Two problems presented themselves immediately. China's logistical system, crews, and maintenance were adapted to Chinese-made products. From the Chinese standpoint, parts for US trucks, AFV, aircraft, and so on would add another layer of complexity to the already-burdened Chinese logistical and training situation. They wanted the US to provide weapons systems in Chinese calibers, such as 152mm for field guns instead of 155mm. American firms wanted surcharges for retooling costs, and the Chinese initially balked.

The other major issue was American concerns for proprietary knowledge, especially in the area of defense technology. The M1A2 represented the state-of-the-art in battle tank design and electronics. The White House was wary of giving China access to the best hardware and software in use by the American military. These concerns were even more pronounced in the area of aircraft, air defense, and electronic warfare. China wanted the most advanced model of the F-16 in the USAF inventory. The US was willing to part with the airframe, but China would have to settle for a lesser-capable electronics package. China wanted the Javelin anti-tank missile, just coming out of prototype in late 1995. The White House refused, offering instead as many TOW-II as China could carry.

For China, it was hardly optimal to acquire an upgraded but old-model American tank like the M60A4. Though a good tank, the M60A4 was not the equivalent of the Type 85 already in service with front-line PLA formations. The M60A4 was arguably a superior tank to late-model Type 59 and Type 69 tanks that outfitted the majority of the tank units in the PLA. However, bringing in the M60A4 (or its equivalent) would entail numerous additions to the logistics framework, plus retraining for tank crews and maintenance personnel. About the only good point was that the M60A4 was a proven, reliable design firing the NATO-standard 105mm rifled tank round, which China had been manufacturing for several years.

Initially, China's efforts to acquire top-of-the-line US equipment foundered on the two main points of contention. The White House was willing to sell soft-skinned transport, as well as small arms and other low-tech goods, though. Several arms manufacturers came forward with offers to manufacture SKS and AK47 rifles in the United States, as well as machine guns and mortars in Chinese calibers. Retooling would be fairly quick and easy, and China could start receiving Chinese-standard small arms by the beginning of December.

Beijing was not satisfied with the arrangement. China suspended the purchase of industrial equipment and small arms and traveled to Western Europe. Unlike the United States, France proved willing to provide the PRC with whatever hardware China could pay for. France, too, had a substantial trade deficit with China and was eager to reduce the imbalance.

At this point, it became clear to many leaders in the West that a tremendous pot of gold was being offered by China to the nation(s) that offered the best deal in arms. China had tens of billions of dollars to spend, and her credit line was staggering despite the war. Few in the international finance community believed in mid-September that China would be destroyed as an economic power by the Sino-Soviet War, and so she remained a good credit risk. Zhu and the Politburo shrewdly tied industrial purchases, small arms, and high-tech systems into a single package. As a result, the industrial nations of the West soon began bidding to take the whole prize. The winner would enjoy a comfortable trade surplus with China for the rest of the decade, at least.

However, as China's policy was beginning to have the US reconsider its position on high-tech arms sales, the Soviet advance in Manchuria was robbing the Politburo of their ability to be choosy. By the end of September, 1st Far East Front was in possession of Shenyang. The PLA and PLAAF were in awful condition. Although preparations were being made for the main Chinese counteroffensive (Operation Red Willow), the only guarantee in that regard was that the Army and Air Force would suffer even more grievous losses in the next round of fighting. As the dust began to settle from Operation Red Willow in late October, it became apparent that while the PLA had dealt the Soviets a serious blow, the enemy was far from out of the fight. Barring a political settlement, the Soviet Union would be back for another round of fighting. With so much of her industry and materiel lost, China no longer had the luxury of being coy with the West.

Confronted with the new reality of the Manchurian battlefield, the Politburo changed its tack. Communist China ordered masses of industrial machinery from the United States, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and West Germany. The Politburo intended to bring set up new factories in southern China, behind the depth of Chinese air defenses. This decision was reached even before Operation Tchaikovsky got underway.

As the guns of Operation Red Willow were cooling, the PLA and the Politburo were refining their plans for the rebuilding of the Army by Spring 1996. It was obvious that China could not produce enough tanks, self-propelled guns, and other mechanized materiel to enable the PLA to take to the field on an equal basis by the time the Soviet offensive was likely to get started. This, too, was obvious even before Operation Tchaikovsky began to hammer Chinese industry south of Manchuria. The PLA had to acquire as much materiel as possible by then, but the bulk of the Army in Spring 1996 would have to be light divisions. China needed the weapons to make her light divisions a more credible force on the battlefield in the face of overwhelming Soviet mobility and firepower. By the end of October, Beijing had arranged to purchase a number of ATGM types from the United States and Western Europe--principally TOW-II, Milan, HOT. Stinger and Mistral would round out the PLA light air defense capability in the short term.

Within days of the start of Operation Tchaikovsky, it was apparent that China's needs were greater than anyone in the West or even in China had imagined. Thousands of shoulder-fired air defense missiles were on their way to China in November, but the PLA and PLAAF would need high-altitude systems, radar, and other electronics to replace the losses being endured daily.

As the northern Chinese air defense network came apart under the weight of Soviet aerial attack, Chairman Zhu executed a policy that was to keep China in the war through 1996, thus paving the way for direct Western involvement in the Eurasian hot war. Completely abandoning any pretense of having the Western powers bid for the opportunity to sell the high-tech equipment China needed so badly, Zhu and the Politburo mortgaged China. The Chinese obtained as much credit as they possibly could from the West. Beijing borrowed as much money as could be gotten from every Western power with money to lend. Banks in New York, London, Paris, Bonn, and Tokyo lent to their maximum and then obtained funds from other banks to send to China. At first, some lenders attempted to steer clear of what many perceived to be extremely risky lending, given the way the war was souring for the People's Republic of China and the sheer amount of debt China was accumulating in just a few weeks. But as a torrent of Soviet bombs rained on northern China, a river of cash flowed into China's coffers. The borrowing and lending took on a life and a logic of its own that left Wall Street stammering. A quantity roughly equal to one half of one percent of the global GDP moved to China in just under a month.

In Washington, President Clinton's top policy experts quickly deduced what the Chinese were doing. They informed the President that China was attempting to leverage the United States--indeed the capitalist world--into guaranteeing her future. If China or even the Zhu government fell, it was quite unlikely that China's tremendous debt would be paid off. Early in the process, they had advised against restricting the flow of US capital to China because the sheer volume and potential profitability of the Chinese debt was creating its own logic. Banks, and by extension nations, could not afford to be left out of the action. If the United States did not participate directly, the US would participate indirectly by lending money to other Western powers, who would then collect the lion's share of the profit. A Chinese default on the debt would send the entire West spinning into a recession, regardless of which nations lent directly and which ones lent to the lenders. Far from advising caution, however, Clinton's top personnel advised whole-hearted support of the process. If Zhu's government remained in power, they could not default on the debt without ruining their access to US markets. China needed to US to pay her debt in the long term, just as she needed to US to survive in the short term. The US certainly could use the additional boost in her arms sales. Equally, it would be most useful to inflict a proxy reversal on the Soviet Union. A Soviet failure in Manchuria would improve the market for US arms--particularly if US materiel was seen as the cutting edge of a Chinese victory. Admittedly, there was some risk in supporting China. However, the potential gains were so great that the Clinton Administration found it impossible to say no. Clinton had been looking for some way to wrest the helm of the nation away from Congress, and this seemed a way to bring both Republicans and Democrats solidly behind him.

Thus, when Communist China was in her darkest hour, the United States was there for her. The funding would flow. Industrial machinery would go to China in US-registered ships under the guns of the US Navy. In addition to the thousands of missiles already being sent, the US would sell HAWK and other systems, along with the radar and command-and-control equipment necessary to use the missiles. Tanks, lighter AFV, and the whole panoply of mechanized materiel would be made available. In a closed-door meeting, Lockheed-Martin convinced the State Department to sell the brand-new Javelin man-portable ATGM to China, provided the Chinese bought a certain minimum. The profits would be turned directly into the next generation ATGM, keeping the US in the lead no matter how things turned out in China. An ecstatic Politburo signed on to buy 10,000 missiles with an option for 20,000 more. Additionally, the United States would sell fairly advanced aircraft. In the meantime, the US would arrange for a new American Volunteer Group to fly for China while the PLAAF was rebuilding.

Within days of the US announcement, other Western nations were rushing their support to Beijing. Zhu could look on his accomplishment with some pride. Though he had mortgaged China, by ensuring that the West held the deed he had bound the United States and her allies to China's fate.

Thus the Chinese ambassador to Canada was able to reply to his Soviet counterpart that China was not ready to discuss terms of ending the conflict. The Winter War would continue, and it was about to evolve in new directions.



Matt Wiser 06-23-2004, 06:47 PM Well done again, my friend! Bring on Part 4 when you can.


graebarde 06-23-2004, 10:46 PM HEAR! HEAR! I bow to you sir.



dawg180 06-25-2004, 10:39 AM If I see where this is going, Clinton's adminstration will be responsible for the ecnomic destructino of the United States- i like it!

On a more serious note, Webstral's text, as far as I am concerned IS canon. he has taken everything denoted in the T2K histroy with a few minor changes for clarity (like getting rid of Tanner and putting Clinton in, etc.) and fleshed it out. when I first read the T2K history I said "I just don't see how that happens." But now I see the WHY, and it is 110% believeable!

I look forward to your next post as usual. Good show old boy, keep up the good work!


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