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
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
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
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
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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