Panel cites Israel, Russia as aiding Chinese military

Washington Times, December 13th, 1997, Jim Anderson

U.S. defense experts said Thursday they believe that Russia and Israel are the main sources of advanced military technology for China's armed forces. In a forum discussion at the National Press Club, the experts, including former CIA Director James Woolsey and former Assistant Secretaries of State Winston Lord and Richard Solomon, agreed that China's military hardware is still based on 1950s technology.

But the panel also agreed that there are pockets of high technology within the armed forces that could pose a threat to the region and even to the United States.

Rick Fischer of the Heritage Foundation said one of the main concerns is that Israel has been a major source of U.S. advanced technology for China. The chief concern is that Israel sold China the existing prototypes and designs for the Lavi fighter, which was never put into production in Israel.

In the mid-1980s, the United States forced Israel to forgo production of the warplane when it halted all aid to the project on grounds that it would have swallowed too much money and deprived Israel's other military forces of much-needed weapons.

The Lavi, making use of U.S.-supplied technology based on the F-16 fighter, had many of the latest U.S. innovations, including flight-guidance technology and carbon-fiber structures. The experts believe the Lavi is the basis for a Chinese-designed strike fighter designated the J-10.

Mr. Fischer said another concern is a Chinese missile with a 1,000-mile range and a radar-guided warhead known as Radag. Radar-guided warheads are extremely accurate and can hit a circle 50 yards across at a distance of 1,000 miles. Mr. Fischer said the source of the radar-guided warhead could be Israel, because Israel had access to that technology from the United States. U.S. allies that receive U.S. technology are forbidden from transferring that technology to third countries without Washington's permission.

Another source of U.S. military information is Dassault, the French aviation firm. Russia is thought to be an even larger supplier of technology, which has helped China design aircraft and missiles.

The Chinese are also surreptitiously converting some American civilian technology such as computers to "dual use," employing them for military purposes that would be forbidden under American law.

The panel of experts believed that the Chinese People's Liberation Army is downsizing, from about 3 million men to about 2 million. But some of the downsized troops are being transferred to a new paramilitary police force, mainly used for internal security purposes.

Despite some of the disturbing military advances, especially in missiles, the panel of experts believed that China could not pose a credible military threat to the United States or Japan until 2005 at the earliest, and more like 2010.

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