- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2007

China’s military buildup is moving beyond countering Taiwan to global operations from the Middle East through Southeast Asia, according to the Pentagon’s annual assessment of Chinese military power.

China’s military acquisitions and strategic thinking suggests Beijing is also generating capabilities for other regional contingencies, such as conflict over resources or territory,” the report to Congress said.

The statement, released yesterday, contradicts assessments of some pro-China analysts and intelligence officials who have said the nation’s military buildup is relatively benign and limited to resolving the sovereignty issue of Taiwan, which was separated from China in 1949 during a civil war.

China has said it is prepared to use force to retake Taiwan, and the United States is committed to defending the democratically ruled island from an attack by Beijing.

A defense official briefing reporters on the report said the Chinese buildup is showing “the beginnings of a power-projection capability that has ramifications well beyond a potential Taiwan crisis.” Chinese efforts to develop an aircraft carrier and other power-projection forces are based on concerns that sea lanes used to transport oil to China are vulnerable to disruption, the official said. China is dependent on the sea lanes for its oil imports - about 80 percent of which travel through the Straits of Malacca.

The Pentagon report, “Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2007,” contains new information on the nation’s weapons and military strategy, including development of space weapons. In January, it successfully tested an anti-satellite missile against a Chinese satellite.

The report said the test “poses dangers to human space flight and puts at risk the assets of all space-faring nations.” It said China appears to be working on an “information blockade” of space through missiles, lasers and electromagnetic anti-satellite missiles and jammers.

China’s continued pursuit of area denial and anti-access strategies is expanding from the traditional land, air and sea dimensions of the modern battlefield to include space and cyberspace.” China also is adopting a doctrine of military pre-emption. Its military views “pre-emption as necessary and logical when confronting a more powerful enemy,” the report said.

The Pentagon warned that China’s rapid and broad military modernization is “impressive” but that a lack of military experience on the part of Chinese leaders could lead to “a greater potential for miscalculations in crises.” “Such miscalculations would be equally catastrophic whether based on advice from operationally inexperienced commanders or from ‘scientific’ combat models divorced from the realities of the modern battlefield,” the report said.

The buildup of China’s forces includes an array of high-technology arms, including new long-range ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-satellite attack weapons, computer warfare troops, intelligence satellites, and airborne and sealift forces that can be deployed over long distances, the report stated.

The report said that the military buildup is being carried out in secret and that the nation’s spending on weapons is as much as $141 billion a year, far more than the official Chinese government claim of $45 billion.

China’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva is quoted in the report responding to U.S.

concerns about Beijing’s military spending by saying, “It’s better for the U.S.

to shut up and keep quiet” about it.

Regarding Taiwan, the Chinese military is developing long-range, precision-guided missiles that can target U.S. aircraft carriers and warships, which Beijing thinks would intervene in any China-Taiwan conflict, the report said.

In a blunt warning to China, the report stated that Beijing would face enormous costs for using military force to try to reunite the island with the mainland.

A war would leave China fighting an insurgency in Taiwan and facing “U.S.

intervention,” as well an undermining of the Chinese economic modernization.

“A conflict would also severely damage the image that Beijing has sought to project in the post-Tiananmen years and would taint Beijing’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics, for which China’s leaders would almost certainly face boycotts and possibly a loss of the games,” the report said.

Domestic unrest in China also could be set off by a Taiwan conflict, “a contingency that Beijing appears to have factored into its planning,” the report stated.

An appendix to the report discloses for the first time the locations of Chinese military units, including ground forces, air bases and naval forces.

On China’s nuclear forces, the report states that China is adding to its relatively small nuclear arsenal and may be exploring “new options.”