- - Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TRANSPARENT TRANSPARENCY

China’s spectacular military modernization has moved at a dizzying pace in the last two decades, and one constant demand from the United States is for the Chinese military to increase “transparency” and disclose its strategic intentions and defense goals.

The demand for greater openness seems utterly baffling to more than 80 percent of the Chinese people who responded positively to this online polling question: “Do you think China should seek to become the world’s No. 1 and dominant military power?”

The poll, conducted by the official Communist Party newspaper Global Times, was done in response to a 2010 book called “A Chinese Dream: Big-Power Thinking and Strategic Positioning in a Post-American Era.” Its author, Senior Col. Liu Mingfu, director of the Research Institute of Military Development at the Chinese National Defense University, designates, as transparently as he could, the United States as China’s main enemy, and calls for a direct confrontation with the United States globally and militarily because “the world is too important to be left in the hands of the United States.” He also asserts that “China must save itself and save the world” and concludes, “Thus China must be ready to become the world’s helmsman.”

Col. Liu believes that “there has never been such a thing in the world as a nation’s ‘peaceful rise.’ ” As to the question of why China should dominate the world, Col. Liu unabashedly states on page 80 of the 303-page tome that the reason is because “China possesses a superior cultural gene needed to become the world’s leader.”

Although Col. Liu announced at the time of the book’s publication that views expressed in the book were his own, he immediately followed that by stating his were the “prevailing views within quite a portion of China’s military and political establishments.” So far, no Chinese official has formally denounced these points raised by a senior military leader.

STEALTH DRONE CRASH

A Chinese-made BZK-005 high-altitude stealth surveillance drone operated by the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army crashed while on a test flight Aug. 22, near Xingtai, Hebei Province, some 200 miles southwest of Beijing. The crash was observed by villagers near the crash site and confirmed to a reporter from the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. The crash took place at about noon. A large group of PLA soldiers rushed to the site to recover the debris. The BZk-005 is designed to have a takeoff weight of 2,750 pounds and can fly at an altitude of 26,000 feet for more than 40 hours at the cruising speed of 95 to 110 mph. It is the Chinese military’s answer to the U.S. Air Force’s strategic reconnaissance drone, the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

F-16 INFERIORITY

Chen Hu, top military columnist for state-run Xinhua News Agency and editor-in-chief of Xinhua’s “World Military Affairs” journal, put forth a new theory for why the Obama administration is unlikely to sell Taiwan the 66 new F-16 C/D fighters it requested this year.

Many commentators hold that China’s strong objection to arms sales coupled with Taipei’s lack of enthusiasm prompted the current ambiguous and lukewarm stance on the issue within the administration.

However, Mr. Chen believes the real reason is that China’s third-generation jet fighters, prominently J-10s and J-11s, are better planes than the F-16s that “do not hold any technological superiority any more,” thus obviating the motivation for both Taiwan and the administration to push for new sales of F-16 C/Ds.

In the same column, Mr. Chen mocks America’s efforts to sell weapons to Taiwan as “chicken ribs” — tasteless to keep, wasteful to discard and a Chinese term equal in English to a perplexing dilemma.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached a mmilesyu@gmail.com.

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