- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2000

BEIJING Russia has completed work on a second cruise-missile ship for China and started sea trials for the new vessel two weeks ago, The Washington Times has learned.
According to Pentagon intelligence officials, the ship is the second Sovremenny-class advanced warship purchased by Beijing. It was spotted in the Gulf of Finland during the last week of June undergoing sea trials.
The exercises are expected to include at least one test launch of an SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship cruise missile, the officials said.
The ship is likely to be sent to China toward the end of this year. It is the second cruise-missile ship purchased from Russia and will give the People's Liberation Army new capabilities against U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups.
"The SS-N-22 is the most dangerous anti-ship missile in the Russian, and now the Chinese, fleet," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican. "Our Navy admittedly has scant ability to defend against this 200-kiloton nuclear-capable weapon."
The missile has a range of 65 miles and can deliver nuclear or conventional warheads. Chinese military writings have indicated that Beijing is working on weapons to defeat U.S. carrier battle groups.
A bill authored by Mr. Rohrabacher would prevent the United States from bailing out Russia with international lending institutions until Moscow ends all sales of Sunburn missiles.
The bill has bipartisan support and could be debated in the next several days. It states that the first of the two Sovremenny destroyers was delivered to the People's Liberation Army navy in February, operated by a mixed crew of Russian and Chinese sailors.
"Currently the Russian and Chinese government are discussing the sale of two additional Sovremenny destroyers," in addition to the first two ships, the legislation says. "The supersonic Moskit [SS-N-22] missile, which can be mounted on a naval or mobile land platform, was designed specifically to destroy American aircraft carriers and other warships equipped with advanced Aegis radar and battle management systems.
"The United States Navy considers the missile to be extremely difficult to defend against," the bill says.
The first Sovremenny destroyer arrived in China in February, and the first shipment of 24 SS-N-22s this spring, said Pentagon intelligence officials.
Increasing Russian arms sales to China are one sign of a growing alliance between Moscow and Beijing aimed at undermining the U.S. position as the sole superpower.
A U.S. official here said he is concerned about Russian arms deliveries as part of China's military modernization program. The missile destroyers, sales of Su-27 aircraft and Kilo-class submarines are the alarming signs, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"Those are the three things that could be very important," the official said. "They reflect a relationship between Russia and China that we need to keep an eye on."
Russian arms sales began in 1991 with 26 Su-27s worth an estimated $1 billion. In 1994, China purchased four Russian diesel-powered Kilo submarines, which the U.S. Navy considers advanced and difficult to detect. Russian technicians also have been spotted by U.S. intelligence agencies assisting China's program to build land-attack cruise missiles, similar to the U.S. Tomahawk.
Russian scientists also are reportedly assisting China's development of laser weapons, space-based weapons, and nuclear submarines. China also plans to use Russia's satellite navigation system for missile guidance.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen arrived here yesterday to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister Chi Haotian. The issue of Chinese weapons exports will be discussed, defense officials said.
Official Chinese spokesmen yesterday attacked U.S. plans for a national missile defense, calling it part of American plans to dominate the world. "We urge the United States to drop as soon as possible this plan, which does not serve its interest and harms that of others," Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi told a news conference as the defense secretary arrived in the Chinese capital.
Mr. Cohen said earlier he will tell the Chinese military that the limited U.S. national missile defense will not pose a threat to China's small strategic nuclear arsenal.
A Chinese commentator writing in the Guangming Daily yesterday said that the U.S. missile defense "is aimed at building up an overwhelming military superiority for the United States and permanently maintaining its status as the only superpower in the world." A U.S. missile defense would force both China and Russia "into developing new weapons," said the commentator, Xu Fukang.
Asked about the Chinese report, Mr. Sun said: "We will determine our disarmament policy in accordance with the development of the anti-missile system."
Disclosure of Russia's completion of the new cruise-missile destroyer comes as Congress is set to debate legislation to punish Moscow for those sales.
Russia's AVN news agency reported on Monday that the Sovremenny destroyer will be supplied to the Chinese in November. The agency quoted a spokesman for the Russian Baltic Fleet headquarters as saying the ship is undergoing "state tests." It did not elaborate.
The report said the Chinese crew would begin training on the new ship in October.
In a related development, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency announced last week that Russia will send China the first batch of 10 advanced Su-30 warplanes by the end of the year. The Chinese have purchased a total of 40 Su-30s.

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