- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2001

The Chinese navy carried out an emergency deployment last week, sending ships and submarines out of ports as if preparing for an attack, according to U.S. defense and intelligence officials.
The May 27 exercise off northern China was described as a "rapid dispersal exercise," said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Nine surface warships, including guided-missile ships, and 15 attack submarines were detected during the exercises. Officials said it is likely that many more vessels took part.
Chinas navy was practicing to see how its ships would respond to an emergency combat deployment, the officials said. "It was aimed at assessing the readiness of their combat ships," one official said, noting that the exercise was monitored closely by U.S. intelligence.
One official said at least one U.S. intelligence agency failed to detect the exercise. The agency was not identified.
A second official said Chinese naval vessels fled their ports and returned after several hours at sea. "We detected it as it occurred," this official said. "We had a good handle on when they put out to sea as well as when they came back."
Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, said the exercise by the North Sea Fleet did not appear related to ongoing military exercises in the south near Taiwan, the largest by Chinas military in recent years.
"This was a no-notice, or emergency, sortie," Adm. Quigley said in an interview. "It can be done for storms, or if there is a hostile action imminent."
Asked if the Chinese navy exercise was successful, Adm. Quigley said it was hard to tell. "An important element of any such exercise is who didnt get under way, and that we dont know," he said.
A defense official said the U.S. military has no plans to send an aircraft carrier to the region while Chinese war games are ongoing.
The U.S. aircraft carrier battle group led by the USS Kitty Hawk is in waters near Papua New Guinea and is expected to dock at the U.S. military base on Guam in the next several days.
Pentagon spokesmen have sought to play down the Chinese military maneuvers as non-threatening. Other defense officials have said the activities are worrisome.
The southern war games are based at Dongshan, an island directly opposite Taiwan and the base for 1996 Chinese military maneuvers that Navy intelligence viewed as possible preparations for military action against Taiwan. China fired several short-range missiles during those exercises, prompting the Pentagon to dispatch two aircraft carrier battle groups to the region.
The North Sea Fleet is considered the combat backbone of the Chinese naval forces. It has up to 300 ships and two squadrons of attack submarines. The mission of the fleet is to defend Beijing and the industrial centers of northern China.
It also is used to protect Chinese offshore oil drilling rigs in the region of the Yellow Sea.
The North Sea Fleets key bases are located at Qingdao, Lushun and Xiaoping. Minor ones are situated at Weihaiwei, Qingshan, Dalian, Huludao, Lienyun, Lingshan, Ta Kushan, Changshan, Liu Zhang and Dayuanjiadun.
In the southern military exercises, Chinese marines conducted an amphibious exercise on Woody Island, a small military outpost in the South China Sea.
Opposite Taiwan, the Chinese military has massed hundreds of amphibious warfare vehicles for what many in the Pentagon view as a trial run for a possible future assault on Taiwan or one of its outlying islands.
Official Chinese news accounts said the military exercises involve some 10,000 troops and are practice for attacking U.S. aircraft carriers and the outlying Penghu island, located about 50 miles from Taiwans west coast.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters he has sharply reduced military exchanges with China as a result of Beijings handling of the downed EP-3E surveillance aircraft.
All exchanges were initially halted when China detained the aircrafts 24 crew members after the plane made an emergency landing on Hainan island in the South China Sea. Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters traveling with him in Ukraine that the military exchanges are being resumed on a limited basis.
"I have been approving things as we have gone along," Mr. Rumsfeld said when asked if normal ties will be resumed once the crippled EP-3E is returned.
"Now, some [exchanges] are down the road," he said.
The Pentagon announced in an internal memorandum issued last month that all military contacts with China had been halted permanently. Hours after the memo became public, the Pentagon reversed the policy and said the exchanges would continue on a case-by-case basis.
China barred a U.S. warship from landing in Hong Kong last month.


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