- The Washington Times - Friday, June 23, 2000

China is building up military forces in preparation for a possible conflict with the United States over Taiwan involving high-technology warfare, according to a Pentagon report obtained by The Washington Times.

The unclassified version of the annual report to Congress states that "a cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan involving the United States has emerged as the dominant scenario guiding [People's Liberation Army] force planning, military training and war preparation."

The report states that Chinese military leaders are considering a major escalation of its military building as a result of NATO's air war against Yugoslavia.

And as a result of the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, the report says, China is discussing ways to "offset U.S. power, to include accelerating military modernization, pursuing strategic cooperation with Russia, and increasing China's proliferation activities abroad."

"China's resolve to employ military force … should not be discounted," the report says.

As for U.S. involvement in defending Taiwan, the report said, China "would employ all means necessary in the hope of inflicting high casualties and weakening the intervening party's resolve."

The report is expected to play a major role in the Pentagon's upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review to begin next year.

The review in the past has pitted defense planners who have sought to play down the threat from China against other officials who contend the United States must prepare now to deal with China's growing military power.

The report states that China is seeking to become "the dominant power in Asia."

The report outlines China's development of new weapons and high technology including information warfare, laser and anti-satellite weapons, and new missiles, ships and aircraft.

Opposite Taiwan, Chinese missile forces pose a growing danger to the region, the report says.

The Chinese military is acquiring an array of weapons that could be used in a "pre-emptive strike" against Taiwan, including long-range cruise missiles, air-launched bombs and short-range ballistic missiles, the report says.

The report states that Beijing's missile force will "grow substantially" with new missile facilities being built opposite Taiwan. The new bases mean China could attack the island "with little or no warning."

"Should China decide to attack Taiwan, Beijing's goal would be to erode Taipei's will to fight with sufficient alacrity to avoid escalation of the conflict and potential third party intervention in the hope of forcing a political resolution in Beijing's favor," the report says.

The Chinese military currently has a limited capability to conduct operations involving naval, air and missile strikes, which could benefit Taiwan's ability to survive an initial attack, the report says.

"A PLA amphibious invasion of Taiwan probably would be preceded by a naval blockade, air assaults and missile attacks on Taiwan," the report says. "Airborne, airmobile and special operations forces likely would conduct simultaneous attacks to the rear of Taiwan's coastal defenses to seize a port, preferably in close proximity to an airfield."

The report projects that China's military advantage over Taiwan could continue to grow in the 2010-to-2020 time period.

The report makes little mention of the heightened tensions between China and Taiwan after a dispute over Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's July 1999 statements about relations with China.

"During the summer," the report says, "PLA ground, naval air and strategic rocket forces reportedly conducted exercises that … probably were tailored to intimidate Taiwan.".

The report states that for the first time China used its new Russian-made Su-27 fighter bombers as a "show of force" in the Taiwan Strait.

U.S. officials who have seen the classified version of the report say the public version appears to have been modified to play down the more ominous elements of Chinese military activities, such as Beijing's recent threats against the United States and Taiwan.

Chinese military writings recently warned that China is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the United States if it intervenes in a conflict between China and Taiwan.

China's government issued a report last year that gave a new condition for the use of force against the island. Beijing will use military force to reunite the island if it fails to negotiate reunification, the Chinese "white paper" states.

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