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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 66, September 2002

News Review

US Sees Twofold Threat from China

In mid-July, two reports underscored growing US concern about China's military and non-proliferation policies.

On July 12, the Pentagon's annual report to Congress on 'The Military Power of the People's Republic of China' detailed a vast and largely unannounced buildup in strategic offensive capacity, directed principally at Taiwan. With regard to military doctrine, the report notes a movement "toward the goal of surprise, deception, and shock effect in the opening phase of a campaign", and an exploration of "coercive strategies designed to bring Taipei to terms quickly". With regard to military spending, the report states: "In March 2002, China announced a 17.6% or $3 billion increase in spending, bringing the publicly reported total to $20 billion. Total spending is closer to $65 billion, and annual spending could increase in real terms over three- to four-fold by 2020."

With regard to nuclear modernisation, the report predicts: "China currently has around 20 ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] capable of targeting the United States. This number will increase to around 30 by 2005 and may reach 60 by 2010." Significant qualitative enhancements are also in hand: "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..." Countering obvious criticism that such upgrading is a predictable response to US missile defence plans, the study observes: "China's ballistic missile modernization began before it assessed that the United States would deploy a missile defense, but China likely will take measures to improve its ability to defeat the system in order to preserve its strategic deterrent... [Such measures are likely to include] improved penetration packages for ICBMs, an increase in the number of deployed ICBMs, and perhaps development of a multiple warhead system for an ICBM, most likely the CSS-4".

On July 23, a Defense Department official briefed reporters on a recent Chinese test of its CSS-5 ballistic missile (range 1,200 miles/1,900 kilometres), apparently involving the release of several objects during flight presumed to be trial decoys intended to confuse missile defence systems.

The full Pentagon report is available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2002/d20020712china.pdf.

On July 15, the bipartisan US-China Security Review Commission, established in October 2000 at the height of concern over Chinese espionage in US nuclear laboratories, submitted its first report to Congress. Focusing extensively on Beijing's non-proliferation record, the Commission - chaired by C. Richard D'Amato, former senior US Navy officer and Congressional foreign policy adviser - draws the sweeping conclusion that "China fails to control the export of dual-use items that contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. China is a leading international source of missile-related technologies. Its proliferation activities with terrorist-sponsoring and other states, despite commitments to the US to cease such activities, present serious problems for US national security interests, particularly in the Middle East and Asia." On the basis of this damning verdict, the Commission offers three main recommendations:

"Recommendation 14: The Commission recommends that the President be provided an extensive range of options to penalize foreign countries for violating commitments or agreements on proliferation involving weapons of mass destruction and technologies and delivery systems relating to them. All current statutes dealing with proliferation should be amended to include a separate authorization for the President to implement economic and other sanctions against offending countries, including quantitative and qualitative export and import restrictions, restricting access to US capital markets, controlling technology transfers, and limiting US direct investment.

Recommendation 15: The United States should work with the United Nations Security Council and other appropriate intergovernmental organizations to formulate a framework for effective multilateral action to counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. Member states found in violation of the agreed framework should be subject to international sanctions.

Recommendation 16: The United States should continue to prohibit satellite launch cooperation with China until it puts in place an effective export control system consistent with its November 2000 commitment to the US to restrict proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated technologies to other countries and entities."

The Commission's full report is available at http://www.uscc.gov.

Notes: on July 9, acting under the direction of the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act and the 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act, the US imposed sanctions on eight Chinese companies, one Chinese citizen and one Indian citizen. Full details of the action were not clarified until a July 24 statement from State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher, who noted that all nine entities had been sanctioned for "knowingly and materially contributing, through the transfer of goods or technology, to the efforts of Iran or Iraq to acquire chemical weapons or destabilising numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons." The seven companies involved are the Jiangsu Yongli Chemicals and Technology Import and Export Corporation, the China Machinery and Equipment Import-Export Corporation, the China National Machinery and Equipment Import-Export Corporation, the CMEC Machinery and Electric Equipment Import and Export Company, the CMEC Machinery and Electrical Import-Export Company, the Wha Cheong Tai Company, and the China Shipbuilding Trading Company. The two individuals involved are Q.C. Chen (China) and Hans Raj Shiv (India). Boucher's statement continued: "The sanctions were imposed on specific named persons and entities, and do not extend to the Chinese or Indian governments. Non-proliferation is a key issue in our bilateral relationship with the People's Republic of China, and we will continue to seek Chinese cooperation in resolving areas of concern."

On August 25, China issued revised regulations governing 'Export Control of Missiles and Missile-Related Items and Technologies.' The new rules were described by White House spokesperson Michael Anton (August 25) as "a good sign". See next issue for details.

Reports: Text - report offers recommendations on US-China relations, Washington File, July 15; Pentagon report predicts Chinese ICBM growth, Global Security Newswire, July 15; States of the former Soviet Union key to China's military buildup, Washington File, July 16; US to impose sanctions against Chinese and Indian companies, Associated Press, July 19; US officials say Chinese may be enhancing missiles to defeat defenses, Associated Press, July 23; China tests arms designed to fool defense systems, Washington Times, July 23; Text - US sanctions Chinese and Indian entities for proliferation violations, Washington File, July 25; China issues missile tech regulation, Associated Press, August 25.

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© 2002 The Acronym Institute.