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China's Growing Military Power: Perspectives on Security, Ballistic Missiles, and Conventional Capabilities


Edited by Dr. Andrew Scobell, Dr. Larry M. Wortzel.

September 2002

315 Pages

Brief Synopsis

This volume, comprised of papers originally presented at a conference held at Carlisle Barracks in September 2001, helps to put the Hainan Island incident in the broader context of China's strategic aspirations and its growing military capabilities. This conference's co-sponsors were the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the U.S. Army War College. For the fourth consecutive year, the War College's Strategic Studies Institute is publishing the proceedings. The nine chapters in this volume, all written by leading experts, cover a diverse set of important topics: East Asian perspectives on China's security ambitions, the status of the Chinese ballistic missile program and regional reactions to U.S. missile defense initiatives, and China's ever-improving conventional military capabilities.

Foreword

The tenor of U.S.-China relations for much of the first year of the administration of President George W. Bush was set by a crisis that need not have occurred. How the situation was handled and eventually resolved is instructive. It tells us about a beleaguered communist leadership in the buildup to major generational transition (scheduled for late 2002 and early 2003) and the mettle of a democratically elected U.S. government tested early in its tenure by a series of foreign policy crises and a carefully coordinated set of devastating terrorist strikes against the continental United States.

The way the April 2001 crisis on Hainan Island was resolved must be chalked up as a success for the United States. the key was Washington’s ability to convince Beijing that holding the air crew was hurting, and not advancing, Chinese interests. That is something Beijing seems not to have grasped when, without warning, the EP-3 suddenly swept down onto the runway in Haikou, bringing a treasure trove of super-secret electronics and 24 Americans, who looked at first to be valuable bargaining chips. With the plane and the crew, China seemed to hold the best cards and behaved accordingly. the top leaders who Ambassador Joseph Prueher had tried to cultivate did not return his calls, and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, after demanding an apology from Washington, left for a Latin American tour. Let the Americans stew in this for awhile, Jiang’s message seemed to be.

But Washington managed to reduce the value of those bargaining chips. This was done, first, by making clear that no substantive concessions would be made to secure their release; and, second, by persuading Beijing that continuing to hold the Americans would bring real damage to Chinese interests. As indignation mounted in the United States, economic dangers began to loom on China’s horizon. The Beijing government, after all, counts on a rising standard of living to limit dissent, and even a brief loss of access to the American market could be damaging. Nor did Asian neighbors rally to support China. They worry, mostly in private, about Beijing’s growing military strength and assertiveness. The State Department boycotted Chinese embassy functions and Secretary of State Colin Powell, while offering regrets and condolences—even eventually sorrow over the loss of the Chinese pilot—showed no inclination to consider the apology China demanded.

The most sensitive nerve in Beijing, however, may have been the Olympics. Having the games in their capital is a cherished Chinese aspiration, and when members of Congress began organizing against it as the crisis developed, the Chinese embassy took the unusual step of sending rather snippy letters to the offenders. Only releasing the hostages could possibly remove the very real threat, and even then not with certainty. Hence Beijing’s decision to send the crew home, which, once made, began the search for a linguistic formula to explain it. Washington had not, in fact, apologized, but we could not prevent Beijing from pulling some of what we had said out of context and presenting it through state-controlled media as being, in fact, the apology China’s leaders sought. That, plus the usual “humanitarian considerations,” provided sufficient cover to end the crisis.

Americans were reminded that the Chinese are not always their friends. Despite some real economic progress, the regime still often becomes confrontational with its own people and with other countries. The United States must treat it with prudence and respect, hedging against dangers even as it seeks to promote positive development. By the same token, China has been reminded that Washington cannot be relied upon to yield when the two states collide. Our growing economic interests in China and our hopes for a future positive relationship with China would be negatively affected if our fundamental American national interests or our commitments to democratic friends and allies in Asia are challenged by China.

During the period that the Chinese changed course, from seeking concessions to seeking an exit, the United States calmly followed procedures. First the Ambassador, then the Secretary of State—and briefly the vice President—took the spotlight to deliver an authoritative “no” to the demand for apology. Skilled State Department wordsmiths cobbled together a precisely crafted letter that gave China cover, but no more. President Bush choreographed all of this, mostly behind the scenes, and earned our applause. President Jiang seems to have concluded that the matter should be handled expeditiously with civilians, not the PLA taking the lead in the negotiations. Once the Hainan Island Incident was resolved and strategic clarity was emphasized on Taiwan, the U.S. moved swiftly to put economics at the top of our agenda, and China’s entry into the WTO become the first priority.

This volume, comprised of papers originally presented at a conference held at Carlisle Barracks in September 2001, helps to put the Hainan Island incident in the broader context of China’s strategic aspirations and its growing military capabilities. I am proud to be a prime initiator of this conference on the People’s Liberation Army, which has been an annual event for more than a decade. Last year’s conference’s co-sponsors were the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the U.S. Army War College. For the fourth consecutive year, the War College’s Strategic Studies Institute is publishing the proceedings. The nine chapters in this volume, all written by leading experts, cover a diverse set of important topics: East Asian perspectives on China’s security ambitions, the status of the Chinese ballistic missile program and regional reactions to U.S. missile defense initiatives, and China’s ever-improving conventional military capabilities.

Contents

Foreword
Ambassador James R. Lilley

1. China’s Response to a Firmer America
Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel

PART I: PERSPECTIVES ON CHINA’S SECURITY AND MILITARY POWER
2. The View from Beijing: U.S.-China Security Relations from Kosovo to September 11, 2001
David M. Finkelstein

3. A View from Tokyo: China’s Growing Military Power and Its Significance for Japan’s National Security
Hideaki Kaneda

4. A View from Moscow: China’s Growing Military Power
Anatoly V. Bolyatko

PART II: CHINA’S BALLISTIC MISSILES AND EAST ASIAN REACTION TO U.S. MISSILE DEFENSE INITIATIVES
5. Chinese Ballistic Missile Forces in the Age of Missile Global Defense: Challenges and Responses
Mark A Stokes

6. Chinese Reactions to New U.S. Initiatives on Missile Defense
Eric A. M cVadon

7. East Asian Reactions to U.S. Missile Defense: Torn between Tacit Support and Overt Opposition
Tahoe Kim

PART III: IMPROVEMENTS IN PLA CONVENTIONAL CAPABILITIES: FORCE PROJECTION AND AIR FORCE LOGISTICS
8. Rough but Ready Force Projection: An Assessment of Recent PLA Training
Susan M. Puska

9. Logistics Support for PLA Air Force Campaigns
Kenneth W. Allen

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS


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