- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 12, 2000

China is increasing its capacity for joint air, land, and sea operations while developing a computer warfare capacity and hardening its communications against monitoring, a congressional report states.

The report also declares that China's military the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is providing Wa tribesmen in Burma with weapons, military advice and materials for distributing illegal methamphetamine within neighboring Thailand.

"The PLA's modernization and joint war fighting capabilities are developing at a rate far ahead of the Pentagon's previous predictions," the report reveals.

In recent public reports and testimony to Congress, Pentagon officials sought to portray Chinese military developments as non-threatening, despite official Chinese writings that portray the United States as Beijing's main enemy.

The congressional report obtained by The Washington Times was sent to the House International Relations Committee and House leaders last week. It was written by Al Santoli, an author and military historian who is a national security aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican.

Mr. Santoli's report was based on a two-week, fact-finding visit he made to Taiwan and Southeast Asia. He was briefed by senior defense and intelligence officials in Taiwan and Thailand.

He reported that recent Chinese military exercises opposite Taiwan demonstrated new high-technology fighting skills during joint warfare and communications maneuvers.

In particular, China recently launched a new military satellite to improve its joint warfare capabilities and is integrating Western technology into its military, including telecommunications equipment purchased from the United States, Mr. Santoli said. During a Capitol Hill presentation yesterday on the report, Mr. Santoli added: "Chinese joint warfare capability has increased substantially in the past 24 months."

Disclosure of the congressional report followed a recent Pentagon-sponsored visit to the U.S. Joint Forces Command in southern Virginia by senior Chinese military officers. There the Chinese were briefed on U.S. joint warfare training. That briefing drew criticism from some members of Congress who said the joint war-fighting lecture violated laws against helping China strengthen its military.

Mr. Santoli said the most dramatic improvements in China's military appear in its joint warfighting and in its information warfare, meaning the capacity to initiate electronic and computer attacks on enemy computers and to penetrate and destabilize enemy information systems.

"Taiwan's senior military intelligence analysts observe that in current large-scale exercises, the PLA is showing surprising rapid advances in joint maneuvers between naval, air force, marine infantry, paratroop, armored and missile units," the report said.

And as the report put it, Chinese warfare tactics call for "paralyzing the high-tech strength of the United States and [its] allies through attacks on military, economic and governmental computerized information systems." The report related that the first incidents of "Internet warfare" were carried out by China against Taiwan in mid-1999.

"Taiwan is particularly impressed with the PLA's rapid advances in utilizing national 'plug and play' fiber-optic civilian [telecommunications] networks to thoroughly secure its military communications" against eavesdropping, the report said.

Beyond that, China is preparing its population for conflict with Taiwan and the United States. In mid-August, Chinese officials carried out an air-raid drill in Shanghai, the first time such a drill was held in 50 years.

The combination of China's growing ballistic and cruise missile force, newly acquired Russian jets and missiles, and information and electronic warfare capability "poses an immediate potent threat to Taiwan's military … and U.S. military forces," the report stated.

Further, according to the report, the Chinese are developing advanced weapon systems that will give its forces an "asymmetrical" edge over more advanced U.S. forces. The weapons include anti-satellite arms and exotic electromagnetic pulse weapons that are being built with Russian help and that could be used against U.S. command and control systems.

What's more, China is building an integrated system of 68 radars for the air force.

The report calls for increasing cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries, and expanding intelligence sharing with Taipei. It also calls for bolstering Taiwan's defenses with Aegis-equipped warships and early warning radar and upgrading Taiwan's air forces.

Based on a visit to the Golden Triangle area of Southeast Asia, Mr. Santoli stated in the report that China is stepping up military activities in that region.

Chinese naval and ground forces conducted joint exercises with Burmese forces in two areas of Burma in August. "Joining the PLA teams were military observers from India's rival, Pakistan," the report said.

The Chinese also have set up an electronic intelligence base on Coco Island in the Bay of Bengal, and Chinese military advisers were helping Wa tribesmen along the Burmese border with Thailand.

"It is no coincidence that China and Pakistan, while seeking to keep narcotics from their own territory, are both supporting ruthless neighboring tribal groups the Taliban [in Afghanistan] and the Wa who are engaged in massive drug trafficking that is destabilizing their neighboring regions," the report said.

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