- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2001

China's strategic missile buildup reflects Beijing's "seriousness of purpose" in becoming a global power, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday.
"We know that they have been investing in various types of weaponry, including ballistic missiles of varying range," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon. "We know that they have been deploying various types of weaponry, including ballistic missiles. And we know that they have been acquiring a number of types of weapons from Russia and from other countries.
"It is a long pattern that reflects a seriousness of purpose about the People's Republic of China with respect to their defense establishment," he said.
The defense secretary was commenting on a report in yesterday's editions of The Washington Times that China was set to deploy its newest long-range missile, the Dong Feng-31, as soon as the end of the year.
U.S. intelligence officials told The Times that China's military has begun "crew training" for new DF-31 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The missile is the first of China's new generation of long-range nuclear missiles, and U.S. intelligence agencies believe the first units of the DF-31 are being prepared for deployment.
Mr. Rumsfeld said that intelligence reports and press reports show that China has been building up its military forces with spending increases for defense in "double-digit" percentage ranges of its overall government spending for the past several years.
Mr. Rumsfeld said Chinese writings and statements about their military show a "high degree of compatibility between what they're saying and what they're doing" militarily.
Asked if he is concerned about the military buildup, Mr. Rumsfeld said China is "navigating along a path that is uncertain … as to where it's going to end. I don't know. I don't know that they know."
The defense secretary said China's government is trying to feed two impulses.
"One impulse is to preserve the regime roughly in its current form, one would think, which is not a free system, not a democratic system, not an open system; and simultaneously to achieve economic prosperity," he said.
The two directions "are clearly putting stresses against the … first goal they have, namely of preserving the regime and being able to continue with the political system that they have."
The United States is trying to encourage China to move toward greater economic relations with the world so that "the thing that gives, is the nature of its system, its regime," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
A senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday that military modernization "is one of the government's four modernizations."
"The objective is to organize the country on a more modern basis," said the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The diplomat told reporters in Washington that military modernization is not linked to U.S. missile-defense efforts. "No country can rely forever on tanks and weapons that date in some cases from the 1950s," the diplomat said.
"But there is a huge difference between modernization and the expansion of China's nuclear forces that would be needed to overcome any threats to our deterrence" from missile defense, he said. "Missile defense is very much relevant" to how fast and how much China's defense capability will expand, the diplomat said.
"There are no enemies that China is considering as it pursues military modernization," the diplomat said. "It is a normal process, just as, if you can afford it, you buy new clothes for yourself each spring. It has nothing to do with any perceived enemies China has identified."
Chinese strategists fear the U.S. missile-defense plan would "upset the international strategic balance of the past 50 years," the diplomat said.
David Sands contributed to this report.


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