Our problem is China — not Russia, as one might not surmise from the past two years of incessant media attention on Russia.

The primary causes of Russia’s depopulation (loss of about 700,000 to 800,000 citizens each year) is a “perfect storm” of high death rates, low birth rates, high rate of abortions and low levels of immigration. The World Health Organization estimates the life expectancy of Russian men at 59 years. Russian women aren’t exactly anxious to reproduce, given “Hubby” will disappear from the scene approximately 10 years prior to their departure.

Russia’s total fertility rate is at an extreme, non-recoverable low of 1.3 births per woman. This number represents the number of children each Russian woman has during her lifetime. Population replacement total fertility rate to maintain a stable population is 2.1 births per woman. According to a Russian news source, there are also more abortions than births in Russia. Consequently, Russia’s population will decline in the coming decades, reaching a size in 2100 that approximates its 1950 level of around 100 million. Russia is a nuisance rather than a legitimate threat.

China poses the most serious threat confronting the U.S. since World War II. They are employing a “Finlandization” process to marginalize U.S. power and influence throughout the Southwestern Pacific/Southeast Asia region.

China is not going to pursue an inverse West-to-East version of Gen. MacArthur’s and Admiral Halsey’s island-hopping operations west to east across the Pacific to the doorstep of Japan (Okinawa). What they have done is create actual artificial islands out of rock-outcropping atolls in the Spratly Island region of the Southwest Pacific Ocean. They have placed two significant military airbases on them. When the time comes, these give them a land-based capability to attack or interdict seaborne commercial or military traffic transiting the passage to Australia and South Asia. Currently, the U.S. would have to employ aircraft carriers to combat it — a significant military disadvantage.

Japan, Australia and Taiwan should join us in a united, NATO-like effort to thwart further Chinese expansion and intimidation in the western and southern Pacific. It would require Japan to erase limitations placed on their military operations by post-World War II stipulations.

ROBERT SCHIEMANN

17 Collins Pond Road

Fitzwilliam