- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 31, 2002

China is developing high-technology arms, including laser weapons and radio-frequency bombs, to boost its ability to successfully carry out warfare against the United States and other advanced military powers, according to a recent Pentagon report.
Beijing's communist rulers also are using strategic deception to fool the international community about China's long-term goals, says the annual report to Congress on the People's Liberation Army.
The report, released this month, focuses primarily on China's conventional and strategic nuclear arms buildup, which includes new types of ships, aircraft, submarines and missiles. But it also reveals new details of China's exotic weapons development efforts.
Among the key weapons are:
Laser guns that can be used to blind soldiers and pilots and knock out U.S. space-based intelligence and communications networks.
Radio-frequency weapons that will electronically cripple command and control electronic systems and make it impossible for militaries hit by the bombs or missile warheads to conduct integrated warfare operations.
Information operations from computers that would attack computer-based infrastructures with viruses or other malicious codes.
Military analysts say the report provides new details on China's clandestine military force modernization.
"This is all evidence that the People's Liberation Army is preparing to compete with the United States in terms of future military technologies," said Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military with the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington think tank.
"In both its ancient history and its future strategies, China places great importance on the development of surprise weapons or trump-card weapons that will attack critical weaknesses of their enemies, to include Taiwan and the United States," Mr. Fisher said.
The report quotes a Chinese naval officer, Capt. Shen Zongchang, as saying that mastering outer space "will be a requisite for military victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding heights for combat."
Capt. Shen also said a key feature of future Chinese warfare will be widely used "lightning attacks and powerful first strikes."
Key targets for Chinese attacks will be radar, radio stations, communications facilities and command ships that will be hit with precision-guided, electronic-attack and electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) weapons, the report said.
The report notes that while China's government publicly opposes the militarization of space, "privately China's leaders probably view [anti-satellite weapons] and offensive counterspace systems, in general as well as space-based missile defense as inevitabilities."
Acquisition of foreign technology has revealed that the Chinese military is working on an "active [anti-satellite] ASAT capability."
Larry Wortzel, a former military attache in Beijing, said Chinese officials have announced that their goal is to turn spacecraft into weaponry platforms for space warfare.
"I think what it boils down to is the Chinese have focused on a range of really high-tech war-fighting technologies that are going to be at the cutting edge of 21st-century warfare," said Mr. Wortzel, who is now with the Heritage Foundation.
Mr. Wortzel said the Chinese are conducting the kind of high-technology military transformation that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has proposed for the U.S. military.
China's military has studied how the United States conducts modern warfare and the sensors that are involved, said Mr. Wortzel. "They are looking at blind what we call C4ISR command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance," he said.
"They know we can't fight without that stuff, and they're working at denying it to us."
The Pentagon said China has placed a priority on radio-frequency weapons. Chinese military officials have said these exotic weapons will be needed to defeat enemy electronics in the 21st century.
Stephen Bryen, a former Pentagon official who took part in a congressional review commission on China, said the Chinese were continuing to build up military forces with U.S. technology, despite an embargo on transfers of military technology and goods.
Most worrisome is the fact that China is acquiring design and manufacturing technology for Global Positioning System navigation, the key element of precision-guided bombs and missiles, Mr. Bryen said. "That is allowing them to leapfrog ahead in weapons development," he said.
Mr. Bryen said the solution is to develop U.S. military bases on Taiwan, which would preclude any kind of sudden attack on the island.
"That would put the problem of China to end once and for all," he said.

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