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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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 
 high-tech conditions."
 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-
 growing population.
 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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