- The Washington Times - Friday, August 25, 2000

Chinese military officials were briefed yesterday on how the United States develops joint training for its forces at a sensitive U.S. military facility in southern Virginia, a spokesman for the Joint Forces Command said.

"This is a routine visit where J-7 guides them through how we develop training and doctrine," said Navy Cmdr. Linc Smith, spokesman for the Norfolk-based command.

Asked why the command is helping the Chinese military to develop joint warfare training, Cmdr. Smith said the briefing was a "general orientation" on joint training.

"I know that doesn't answer your question on why we are doing this," he said.

Other Pentagon spokesmen also could not explain why the Chinese military is being briefed on U.S. training, other than to say it is part of a military diplomacy program.

The visit by the Chinese delegation from the Academy of Military Sciences has been cloaked in secrecy. It began Aug. 18 and continues to Sept. 1 with stops at military bases, schools and the Pentagon.

Pentagon spokesmen have refused to identify the members of the delegation, other than its leader, Gen. Wang Zuxun, the director of the academy.

Cmdr. Smith said the small group of Chinese military officials visited the command's Joint Training Directorate, known as J-7, located in nearby Suffolk, Va.

The host for the Chinese visit was the directorate's chief, Army Maj. Gen. William Wallace, who led the group to the Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center, Cmdr. Smith said. The center is where advanced war-fighting concepts are developed.

Beginning today, the Chinese are expected to tour the Pentagon before heading to the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii.

The visit has drawn protests from members of Congress.

Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, said the visit appears to violate congressional restrictions passed last year on military exchanges with China that could benefit Chinese war-fighting capabilities.

Cmdr. Smith said the Chinese did not visit the Joint Experimentation Battle Lab and received no classified information on U.S. warfighting techniques.

The briefing was "on how we do training and doctrine development," he said.

Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also questioned the Chinese military delegation's visit.

"No doubt the Clinton-Gore administration will have a clever legal argument justifying the guided tour they are giving the Chinese Communist military at our Joint Forces Command despite last year's legislation outlawing such visits," Helms spokesman Mark Thiessen said.

"It is richly ironic, not to mention stupid, for the administration to be conducting such exchanges with a potential adversary at precisely the time the administration is desperately opposing modest upgrades in defense exchanges with Taiwan that are called for in the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act," Mr. Thiessen said.

Pentagon officials said U.S. defense officials have visited some Chinese military education centers but have not been permitted to see the Academy of Military Sciences, which provides classified military assessments to senior Chinese military leaders.

The legislation prohibits any military exchanges that would create a national security risk due to inappropriate exposure to U.S. military facilities or information.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military, said combat training and simulation is a "glaring deficiency" for China's forces and an area where the military is seeking to improve.

"Any access they gain to our systems will benefit their training and war-fighting capabilities," Mr. Fisher said.

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