DoD Report Examines China's Military Goals
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service 03 Dec 1998
WASHINGTON -- The military will play an important role in
the People's Republic of China reaching its goals of being
a great world power and the pre-eminent one in Asia.
This is the conclusion of a DoD report submitted to
Congress by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen. The report
covers the future military capabilities and strategy of the
People's Republic of China.
The ultimate goal of the most populous country on the globe
is "parity in economic, political and military strength
with the world's leading powers by the middle of the next
century," the report says.
China has no major external security threats, and the
Chinese are taking advantage of this to reorganize and
modernize their army. The People's Liberation Army will
still be the largest on Earth even after it finishes a cut
of 500,000 soldiers. Officials are equipping the army with
more modern weaponry and developing a more educated officer
and enlisted corps.
The report says barring a declaration of independence by
Taiwan, which China claims as its own, the chance of an
unavoidable large-scale conflict is "almost negligible"
over the next 15 years. China is, however, preparing for
possible military contingencies along its southeastern
flank -- the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. China's
goal, the report says, is to field forces that can deploy
rapidly and win a future regional war along its periphery
under high-technology conditions.
If a small war broke out, Chinese strategy would be to
contain the conflict and apply sufficient force to win
before outside powers could intervene, the report says.
U.S. military officials call this doctrine "local war under
China's aim at becoming the pre-eminent Asian power will
"require the weakening of U.S. political influence in the
region," the report says, adding China will not directly
confront the United States.
China, like the United States, is seeking to exploit the
"revolution in military affairs." The report says the
Chinese military is intensely interested in information
operations and information warfare. They are developing or
seeking to buy mobile ballistic missile launchers, land-
attack cruise missiles and advanced surface-to-air
missiles. China is also working to improve command,
control, communications, computers and intelligence,
training and logistics.
China is a nuclear power and may have started a warhead
modernization program. It announced a nuclear test
moratorium in 1996.
The report says China may be building an anti-satellite
capability and already may able to track and "image" low-
orbiting satellites. It also may have acquired high-energy
lasers needed for ground-based anti-satellite systems.
The Chinese have a robust space program and may have a
manned launch before the end of the decade, the report
says. "While one of the strongest motivations for this
program appears to be political prestige, China's manned
space efforts could contribute to improved military space
systems in the 2010-2020 time frame."
The Chinese navy is getting more, better and quieter
submarines. The Chinese are also developing amphibious
capabilities and an airborne corps.
Internally, policies are geared to keep the Chinese
Communist Party in power. Problems are cropping up, though.
China will confront large-scale unemployment as reform
continues in state-owned enterprises. Minority and human
rights agitation will continue, and the party must confront
widespread corruption, ecological disasters and an ever-
A large part of the security strategy hinges on China
improving its already robust economy. The Chinese will
continue to promote rapid economic growth, improve
education, and maintain political unity and stability.
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