Inside the Ring

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The senators have asked the administration to answer 11 questions about the Huawei-Sprint deal, including Huawei’s relations with the Chinese military and whether the Treasury Department is negotiating a deal that would permit Huawei to acquire or invest in U.S. companies.

The other Republican senators who signed the letter include Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, Richard C. Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine.

The Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States in 2008 blocked a proposed merger between Huawei and the U.S. telecommunications company 3 Com over what U.S. officials said were security concerns about the Chinese company’s entry into the U.S. telecommunications industry.

China military missions

One of the little-noticed new disclosures in the Pentagon’s latest annual report on Chinese military power is the first mention of U.S. worry over an apparent major shift in Chinese military strategy known as the “four historic missions.”

The missions were first discussed in a speech to the military by Chinese President Hu Jintao on Dec. 24, 2004. However, the text of the speech outlining details of the new missions remain couched in secrecy, although the four missions have been made public, including references that have triggered a debate among U.S. China watchers and policymakers over what they mean.

Some U.S. analysts sympathetic to China have sought to dismiss concerns about the new missions by arguing that Mr. Hu’s use of the word “historic” meant it was related to the past and not new. Others say use of the word “historic” for the missions means monumental or extremely significant.

That view was bolstered by the fact that the four missions were codified by changes to the Chinese Communist Party’s constitution in 2007.

The Pentagon report lists the four new military missions: keeping the Communist Party in power; providing security for national development; supporting the safeguarding of national interests; and playing an important role in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.

The problem for U.S. defense and intelligence analysts has been a severe lack of information on what the Chinese mean by the new military missions and what impact they will have on the large-scale military buildup now under way.

Specific concerns were raised among U.S. defense officials over recent Chinese military publications calling on Beijing to give the military more money, weapons and technology to fulfill the new missions.

Added to that is the worry that Chinese military leaders appear to be arguing for building new power-projection forces and even Chinese military bases outside the country to be used to protect overseas Chinese with military force, if necessary.

That is a major shift, as China’s communist leaders in the past dismissed aircraft carriers as tools for “hegemons.” Now, however, China is building several aircraft carriers, according to the Pentagon report.

A senior defense official told reporters on Monday that excessive Chinese military secrecy had made it “very, very difficult to draw sort of a clear … analytical conclusion” about the goals of China’s military buildup.

“So we’re forced to say there may be nothing to be concerned about in the sense that China’s acting perfectly consistently with other great powers who as they rise translate economic power into military power,” the official said.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

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