Chinese buildup targets Taiwan
|The Washington Times
July 13th, 2002
China's military is engaged in a threatening buildup that includes extending the range of its nuclear missiles and developing forces to coerce and attack Taiwan, according to a Pentagon report on Chinese military power.
The report to Congress made public yesterday states that China has located all of its 350 short-range missiles in a province near Taiwan and that its buildup not only threatens the island, but Japan and the Philippines as well.
The report is the most detailed examination to date by the Pentagon of China's growing military strength. By contrast, previous annual reports sought to play down China's military buildup as nonthreatening.
"China is in the midst of a ballistic-missile modernization program that is improving its force, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in all classes of missiles," the 56-page report said. "This modernization program will improve both China's nuclear deterrence by increasing the number of warheads that can target the United States, as well as improving its operational capabilities for contingencies in East Asia."
The Pentagon report revealed for the first time that China is replacing all 20 of its older CSS-4 intercontinental ballistic missiles with longer-range versions known as CSS-4 Mod 2s. The report states that the longer-range missiles will be deployed by "mid-decade."
"In addition, China is developing three solid propellant ICBMs," the report said. "Development of the DF-31 is progressing, and deployment should begin before mid-decade. China also is developing two follow-on extended-range versions of the DF-31: a solid-propellant, mobile ICBM and a solid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM)." The two new DF-31 missiles will be deployed sometime in the middle to later years of this decade.
Also, China is keeping 12 CSS-3 ICBMs "through the end" of the decade.
China's stated military doctrine is that it would not be the first country to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. However, Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai, a senior Chinese general, in the late 1990s implicitly threatened to use nuclear missiles against Los Angeles if the United States were to defend Taiwan from a mainland attack. The comments were made to a former Pentagon official who reported them to the White House as a threat by Beijing to use nuclear arms.
The longer-range DF-31 "can reach much of the United States," the report said. According to the report, China has about 20 missiles capable of "targeting the United States" and is increasing the number to 30 by 2005 and possibly as many as 60 by 2010.
The Chinese also are expected to develop missile capabilities that will defeat a U.S. missile-defense system. The steps include improving the ability of warheads to pass through the defense-shield system, increasing the number of missiles Beijing has deployed, and "development of a multiple-warhead system most likely for the CSS-4."
China's 350 short-range missiles including an upgraded CSS-6 missile also could be used in attacks against Okinawa, where U.S. military forces are based, in addition to attacks on Taiwan, the report said.
The report states that China's buildup of missiles and other military forces near Taiwan "casts a cloud" over Beijing's announced policy of seeking a peaceful settlement over the issue of the island's status. China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has said that if the island's government declares independence it would be a cause for war.
The United States, under the Taiwan Relations Act, is committed to preventing the forcible reunification of the island by the mainland. President Bush declared last year that the United States would do "whatever it takes" to defend the island, which has a democratic government, from an attack by the communist-ruled mainland. "Beijing has refused to renounce the use of force against Taiwan and has listed several circumstances under which it would take up arms against the island," the report said.
Recent statements about Taiwan and China's military buildup "may reflect an increasing willingness to consider the use of force to achieve unification," the report said.
Beijing's current strategy is not to seek an invasion of Taiwan, as many U.S. military leaders have suggested. Instead, the Chinese government is working on a "coercive" strategy of threats, intimidation, missile attacks and a naval blockade of Taiwan, the report said.
However, any Chinese attack on Taiwan would be designed to be a rapid strike before any other countries could come to its defense, the report said. The report said that among the recent developments is a new Chinese military doctrine of "pre-emption and surprise" that would make up for shortcomings in its current lack of high-technology forces.
China's military budget is also increasing sharply and could triple or quadruple its estimated $20 billion current annual spending by 2020. Regarding the military balance on the Taiwan Strait, the report said China has more than 300 short-range missiles that can strike Taiwan and that the number will grow "substantially" in the next few years. Taiwan's ability to defend itself against a Chinese missile attack is "negligible," the report said.
"Preparing for a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait is the primary driver for China's military modernization," the report said.
For the first time, the Pentagon stated that China's threatening posture toward Taiwan could be used in future conflicts against Japan and the Philippines, both allies of the United States.
The report also stated that China's military buildup relies heavily on Russian weapons and technology. Recent weapons have included Sovremenny-class destroyers with supersonic anti-ship missiles. Other weapons from Russia include air-defense missiles, Su-27 and Su-30 fighter bombers and Kilo submarines with advanced torpedos.
The report also provides details on China's exotic-weapons program, which is under development, including laser guns, anti-satellite weapons and radio-frequency weapons designed to knock out communications.
The tone of the report that China is a growing military threat to the Asia- Pacific region was softened by statements from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Thursday.
Asked about the report, Mr. Powell told reporters he had not read it, but that he does not view China's military buildup as a cause for concern. He added that Beijing's growing military strength is being watched carefully. China's military buildup "is not in and of itself frightening, as long as it is clear it is a modernization that doesn't reflect any kind of new strategic purpose or represent any sort of threat to the region," Mr. Powell said.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis said the report was "factual and sober."