- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2000

Twenty-five senior Chinese military officers are in Boston to learn details about U.S. decision-making that critics say will help China fight the United States in a conflict over Taiwan.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) officers arrived Saturday. They include 24 senior colonels and one navy captain who will spend two weeks at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, according to Clinton administration officials close to the program.
The officers are there to hear lectures by current and former U.S. national security officials who have discussed how the United States would respond to a crisis over Taiwan.
"Most of the officers are intelligence collectors or technology collectors," said one knowledgeable official.
Other visiting officers are from components of the Chinese military involved in directing unconventional warfare against the United States, a key element of China's emerging war-fighting strategy.
"The Chinese plan to use this information to manipulate the U.S. decision-making process and paralyze us during a crisis," said one official. "And many of these visiting officers are involved in just that type of activity."
The group includes colonels from the Central Military Commission, the top Communist Party organ that controls the military; the PLA general staff department, and various regional military command headquarters units.
It is the third group of colonels to attend Harvard as part of its "China Initiative," which was set up in 1997 with a $1 million grant from Nina Kung, a Hong Kong businesswomen who heads Chinachem, a chemical manufacturer with extensive ties to mainland China.
In the past three groups, the Chinese have questioned their lecturers on U.S. decision-making in a crisis, the officials said.
Another Chinese objective for what Harvard calls its executive program for Chinese security affairs is to conduct "political influence operations" spreading propaganda aimed at influential academics and U.S. policy-makers that China's military buildup poses no threat to the United States.
A second propaganda theme of the colonels' is to discredit any U.S. officials or Americans who view China as a potential enemy.
Officials said China does not allow similar two-week exchange programs for U.S. military officers at a major Chinese university. Visits to China by U.S. military officers are severely restricted, the officials said.
The colonels' visit coincides with a disputed military exchange program underway that involves Pentagon-sponsored visits by Chinese officers to sensitive U.S. military facilities.
A group of Chinese officers, including three generals, was briefed last week on U.S. joint war-fighting training and simulation, an area the Chinese military is seeking to improve. They also are scheduled to visit the U.S. Pacific Command, which would be in charge of all U.S. forces in the Pacific.
That visit drew protests from Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, and Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, who questioned whether the visit violated a U.S. law passed last year that prohibits helping China develop its war-fighting expertise.
Officials said colonels who arrived at Harvard on Saturday are part of a "loophole" in the legislation that set up the Smith-DeLay guidelines for U.S. military exchanges. The Harvard program is not sponsored or funded by the Pentagon.
It was set up in 1997 by Joseph Nye, a former Clinton administration assistant defense secretary who is dean of the Kennedy School. Mr. Nye was the official viewed as the author of the Pentagon's soft-line policy toward China. He once stated that if China is treated like an enemy, it will become an enemy.
Since the accidental bombing of the China Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, last year, China in official writings has stated that the United States is its main enemy.
Former Bush administration arms control official Robert Blackwill, who at one time directed the China military program at Harvard, could not be reached for comment. Mr. Blackwill was in charge of drafting the Republican Party's platform during the presidential convention earlier this month.
Other Harvard officials involved in the program did not return telephone calls seeking comment on the colonels program.
After the Smith-DeLay guidelines became law, Pentagon lawyers rejected the arguments of critics who questioned the legality of the Harvard program, the officials said. The lawyers said allowing Pentagon and other U.S. officials to take part in the program would not violate the legal guidelines.
Last year, a senior Pentagon intelligence officer, Army Lt. Col. Lonnie Henley, sat in on the entire two-week program. During an earlier session, the Pentagon's top China policy-maker, Kurt Campbell, lectured the colonels.
Officials said the colonels this year are expected to seek answers on how U.S. policy toward Taiwan will be affected if Republican George W. Bush is elected president.
The Texas governor supports the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act that passed the House by a wide margin and is pending before the Senate. The act would bolster U.S. defense ties to Taiwan.
Mr. Bush's key campaign national security adviser, Condoleeza Rice, has said she does not regard China as a threat.
Marshall Goldman, associate director of Harvard's Davis Center for Russia Studies, has said he supports a similar Harvard exchange program with Russian officers. But he questioned the Chinese military program. "Almost all the Chinese are intelligence people," he told the Boston Globe.
According to U.S. intelligence sources, in order to win Chinese government cooperation, Harvard provided assurances to the Chinese military that U.S. intelligence agencies, namely the CIA and FBI, would not seek to recruit any of the visiting PLA officers as spies.
The agreement also calls for restricting access to the Harvard campus by FBI counterintelligence agents engaged in surveillance of intelligence activities carried out by the colonels.

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