- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2008


The United States needs new weapon systems, including missile defenses and other advanced military capabilities, to deter and counter China’s steady buildup of nuclear and conventional arms, according to a draft internal report by a State Department advisory board.

U.S. defense policy has stressed missile defenses against Iran and North Korea. The report, by the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), is the first to recommend such defenses against China, including technology in space.

The draft, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, said Chinese strategy goes beyond building forces capable of retaking the island of Taiwan. China seeks to “break out” by projecting power beyond its region including sea lanes that carry energy resources for its modernization, the document said.

“Using superior U.S. military technical capacities, the United States should undertake the development of new weapons, sensors, communications, and other programs and tactics to convince China that it will not be able to overcome the U.S. militarily,” the report said.

Read the report by the ISAB Task Force on China’s Strategic Modernization (downloads PDF)

The draft report presents a tough assessment of Chinese strategic modernization that goes beyond many current government and private-sector analyses that say that China’s military modernization does not pose a major challenge to U.S. security interests.

For example, in an interview with The Washington Times in March, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden expressed professional “admiration” for China’s rapid and sophisticated buildup and said it is “not inevitable that they will be an enemy.” The report said that to reduce the chance of a miscalculation by China that could lead to a crisis or conflict, the United States “must take seriously China’s challenge to U.S. military superiority in the Asia-Pacific region. … China’s military modernization is proceeding at a rate … to be of concern even with the most benign interpretation of China’s motivation.”

Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong said in a statement that China is “naturally becoming stronger and more influential in world affairs” after 30 years of reform, but remains committed to peaceful development and a “foreign policy of peace.”

“China will not harm anyone or pose a threat to anyone. China’s development is opportunity, not threat. Any versions of China threat will continue to be proved fallacious,” he said.

Mr. Wang also said his government is “committed to the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question and the peaceful reunification” of the island with the mainland.

The draft by the 17-member advisory board has not been officially released. A State Department official familiar with the report said it is in the late stages and could be completed in the next several weeks.

The official said the report’s stark assessment of China’s strategy and forces was in line with the board’s mandate to provide frank advice to the secretary of state from analysts outside government.

Brandon A. Buttrick, the ISAB executive director, said his office did not know when members would complete their review. “If the report is an unclassified report, it will be made available for public distribution as we have done with the previous ISAB reports when they are approved by the ISAB,” he said.

The board is headed by former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The task force that produced the report was led by Robert Joseph, a former undersecretary of state and specialist on nonproliferation. The task force included former Sen. Charles S. Robb, Virginia Democrat; Allison B. Fortier, a vice president for missile defense at Lockheed Martin; and William Van Cleave, emeritus professor for defense and security studies at Missouri State University.

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