Infrastructure Assumptions of No Major Precision Warfare

China has been spending trillions of dollars on ultra-high voltage electrical grids, large hydroelectric dams and dams for pumped hydro energy storage. China is spending about $2.2 trillion on new energy and grid construction from 2016-2020. There are many benefits to the super-electrical grid. It enables power to be moved from massive coal, hydro, wind and solar production in north and west to the eastern part of China. China’s population is mostly on the eastern coastline. Ultra-high-voltage (UHV) power will address poor grid access and form the backbone of trans-provincial power transmission. West to east transmission capacity will increase from 130GW to 270GW. There will be air pollution reduction and the system will mean that solar, wind and hydro will be fully utilized. There should be a 10% increase in utilization and a 10% gain from lower transmission losses. This unification of China’s grid would make it far more vulnerable to cascading blackouts. Preventing blackouts and problems with the unified supergrid is taking heroic levels of engineering and planning. There is need to build extra gigawatts of reserve power at each major area of the grid in case of an outage on one of the UHV lines.

History of Dam Warfare and China’s Massive Amount of Hydro

The large dams and key components of the grid would also be vulnerable to precision missile attacks. In 1938, the Nationalists breached the Yellow River dikes and caused the death of about 800,000 to 900,000 civilians. China has about 340GW of hydropower and 40GW of pumped-storage capacity. China realizes that the US would have the military capability to deep-strike China’s dams and key parts of the supergrid. However, China is assuming The USA and China both have energy and communication infrastructure that is highly vulnerable to a military peer. A military peer with long-range cruise missiles or other deep-strike precision weapons. Both countries have critical infrastructure that has vulnerabilities to cyber-warfare. The good news appears to be that China continues to execute on long-term plans with high levels of spending where efficiencies are gained in a peaceful relationship with the USA. China’s construction and infrastructure would be a problem against any equal or superior opponent.
Map of China’s ultra-high voltage grid
China is moving energy from the other parts of China to the east coast
China has big dams all over
China’s High Speed Rail

SOURCES – IEEE, CLSA, War is Boring

Written By Brian Wang

28 thoughts on “Infrastructure Assumptions of No Major Precision Warfare”

  1. Perhaps not everything, but it is rather spooky. I’d suggest you use Google to check on just how bad things are, but I’ve heard you can’t do that in your country (and if you did you’d probably be sent to a correctional facility for some reason or another). Meanwhile, go get your fifty cents from the great Pooh bear for life.

  2. Sure, isn’t it easy to categorize all 1.3 billion people and all of the southern states?

    On the other hand, yes, China realizes that it’s vastly better to have the country ruled by elites, especially considering the dumba$$ populace that brought us Trump and Brexit…

  3. Blah blah blah, yea, sure. Everything China builds is substandard, all hail the mighty western powers!!! Go back to your trailer boy…

  4. Really? You really think the US would risk a nuclear war with anyone?

    Before the US becomes an international pariah, what’s also stopping China from unloading their nukes on the US?

  5. Do we even have four ‘neighbors’? Canada and Mexico of course.

    The US ‘leased’ the canal zone through 1999, so surely we can count Panama (invaded in 1989).

    If we can consider ‘close to US territory across open waters’ as ‘neighbors’, we’re certainly neighbors with Cuba (invaded by CIA-created proxy army in 1961, directly blockaded in 1962); the Dominican Republic is between Puerto Rico and the US mainland (invaded the the DR in 1965); Grenada is closer to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands than either of the latter are to the US mainland (invaded Grenada in 1983).

    So, unless you intended the question to be humorous (as in “We don’t have 4 neighbors”), there you go.

  6. It depends how such a war starts.

    USA invades China? Yes. Mass unrest followed by everyone involved being unemployed after the next election, assuming they got that far.

    USA responds to Chinese invasion of Taiwan? It better be over fairly quickly and easily or any support will break down.

    China starts it by vaporizing Pearl Harbour/LA/etc? Now the US population will probably be in it for the long haul.

  7. Russia has their back so they can risk it while playing a submissive stance

    But the USA really only has to empty a couple of submarines worth of nukes and China is gone in a few days

    Would Russia retaliate by nuking the USA?

    Possibly not but then the US would be an international pariah for all future time

    The US would need an extremely strong pretext

  8. There was fighting with the USSR too, in 1969. But reports are mixed as to who attacked first. Wikipedia claims the Chinese did.

  9. Does the same theory apply to Egypt c.f. Aswan dam? A brief internet search suggests that a failure of Aswan is estimated to cause a million deaths or so at the low end, through to “complete destruction of Egypt as a country”.

    I’ll note that the dam filled up during the late 1970s… about the same exact time that Egypt stopped threatening Israel and decided to work with them.

    Maybe we should encourage North Korea and Russia to build similar dams?

  10. I had not heard that it is poorly constructed. My uncle did tour the countryside before they flooded it.

  11. Quoting from my own post here from several years ago:

    And if it’s a full on war (but not nuclear)? China can’t do that anymore. They have this thing called the Three Gorges Dam that sits a thousand miles upriver from Shanghai. It’s made out of substandard concrete (due to corrupt builders) so it’s already cracking, and it sits on a fault line, and it is a pure disaster for China everyday it stands because of all the damage it does just by existing (the problem with not doing a real environmental impact study, perhaps). For various reasons, it would almost be a worse disaster if it was turned off and drained (not to mention enormous loss of face–which would be terminal for the government) but, if it breaks, it will take out over ten percent of the country and over fifty percent of the industry. Talk about riding a tiger!


    It is also becoming part of a series of dams, any one of which breaking could cause a domino effect.


    Further, there is no conceivable way they could prevent a serious attack on it carried out with conventional weapons (e.g. cruise missiles and other devices for remote destruction). Even Taiwan could probably take it down (and this might be part of the reason we’ve seen mainland China’s focus move from Taiwan to things like the South China Sea). This might also help explain why Taiwan is rumored to be so intrigued by hyper-velocity missiles.

  12. Fixed infrastructure – perfect targets for space based kinetic impactors.

    China is no doubt playing the long game though. A bigger economy wins so that’s what they are working on. Space is the final frontier. If the US wants to remain a relevant #1, it needs to take advantage of the current technological advantage in space.

    Money needs to be routed from some areas to the final frontier. Capitalism currently doesn’t play a long enough game to conquer space so the state has a role to bootstrap the whole thing. Sad as it may sound, militarization of space is probably is probably the fastest way to get private industry going. We need those big lasers, in-situ resourcing, mass drivers, nuclear technology, robots etc. in space.

  13. storage capacity yes, MW/hr’s would be appropriate, but for just output no, unless people are doing the whole capacity factor dance…

  14. The US invades countries left and right , spies on everyone, funds terrorists in part, topples government across the globe yet China and Russia are supposed the troublemakers. In what reality are these people living in ? Nobody outside the anglo/western sphere believes this nonsense.

  15. China has not attacked anybody yet – but boy are they ever fine tuned for rapid militarization

  16. The US doesn’t have the will power to invade even backyard Venezuela, while China has plans for the South China sea, Taiwan and who knows what after, When China thinks about peaceful relationship with the US it thinks in the same terms that Germany thought about dividing the world and coexisting in peace with the British empire after stretching from France to the Soviet Union -rest of Asia will be divided with Japan.

  17. Were you expecting them to get a head start in getting their cities into post-apocalyptic conditions? Their continued infrastructure spending should come as no surprise. Lucky the average denizen over there isn’t calling the shots else all that infrastructure spending would be in serious doubt. When it comes to matters of the commons, the average Chinese would fit right into the culture of pathological selfishness that has infected the southern states.

  18. China is going to need more transmission lines going further back west to better utilize their renewable potential.

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