Washington Times


China report held

Notes from the Pentagon
The Washington Times
Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough
April 12th, 2002

Senior Pentagon officials continue to block release of a report to Congress on China's military.

The annual report is required by a provision of the fiscal 2000 Defense Authorization Act to highlight China's "current and future military strategy," including the security situation on the Taiwan Strait.

Despite the legal requirement, none was produced last year and no one in Congress demanded the Pentagon obey the law.

Now this year's report is caught up in a dispute within the U.S. government because its findings are said to present a picture of a threatening Chinese military buildup, especially toward Taiwan.

That assessment runs counter to a new U.S. intelligence estimate on China's nuclear missiles. Critics say the estimate will play down Beijing's strategic nuclear-forces modernization as numerically inferior to U.S. arsenals.

China has been building up its short-range missile forces opposite Taiwan for the past several years with more than 350 CSS-6 and CSS-7 missiles. It also is buillding two road-mobile ICBMs that will target the United States and U.S. forces in Asia. Beijing recently sent a new batch of CSS-7s to a base at Yongan, intelligence officials said.

The Pentagon report is finished and is said to contain 40 points showing why Chinese military forces pose a direct threat to Taiwan. The facts of the 40 points are not being challenged. "The dispute is about whether or not to make the points public," the official told us.

A Pentagon spokesman said the report could be released in the next 10 days or two weeks. A more likely scenario is that the report will leak out just in time to embarass Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao during his upcoming visit to the United States.

China yesterday announced that Mr. Hu would meet Vice President Richard B. Cheney on May 1. (Note to insiders: Our address is 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002.)

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at bgertz@washingtontimes.com. Mr. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.