- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

America’s understandable preoccupation with terrorism and Iraq may have obscured the gathering threat of China as a formidable adversary.

At an Asian security conference in Singapore, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last Friday delivered what some have called an unusually blunt critique of China. Mr. Rumsfeld noted Beijing’s military spending threatens Asia’s delicate security balance. Instead of so much weaponry, he said China should emphasize political freedom and open markets.

“Since no nation threatens China,” said Mr. Rumsfeld, “one wonders why this growing [military] investment?” The answer is that rather than feeling threatened, China intends to threaten others, especially the United States.

In a brilliant new book by the late Constantine Menges, titled, “China: The Gathering Threat,” the former special assistant for national security affairs to President Reagan and CIA national intelligence officer soberly outlines the threat China already has become and persuasively argues how America can use its economic and moral weapons to stop the world’s biggest nation without firing a shot.

Mr. Menges writes that China has defined America as its “main enemy” and can launch nuclear weapons at the U.S. capable of killing 100 million of us. China’s effective espionage operation in the United States has managed to steal the designs of nearly all nuclear warheads and other military secrets, he says.

China has threatened to destroy entire American cities if the U.S. helps Taiwan defend itself against a military assault or invasion, Mr. Menges writes. China also buys Russian weapons designed to sink U.S. aircraft carriers. It controls more than $200 billion in U.S. debt and sells more than 40 percent of its exports to America, using the profits to strengthen its economy and advanced weapons systems aimed at the U.S.

Until recently, American policy has been to give China access to U.S. markets in hopes of reducing tensions and hastening democratic reform. It has done no such thing. Mr. Menges argues it is time to try another approach.

First, he says, the U.S. must finish developing a reliable missile defense system that can easily expand if China, Russia or any nation tries to overwhelm us by building additional missiles.

Mr. Menges says the cost of expanding a missile defense system is far less than building new missiles and will be prohibitive to enemy nations once they realize the U.S. can’t be successfully attacked.

Without a working missile defense system, he writes, the increased warheads and missiles now available and under construction will make the Chinese threat substantial. He estimates by 2008, China will have more than 400 warheads capable of reaching U.S. territory.

Mr. Menges believes in “the importance of forthrightly informing the world about U.S. interests and actions. Truth is indeed the best policy.” In his view, the U.S. often fails to respond to Chinese and Russian allegations it seeks world domination.

He says we should be telling the world China and Russia are spreading weapons of mass destruction and China’s actions “demonstrate that while pursuing active commercial diplomacy to enhance its economic development and mostly avoiding visible conflict, China is also an expansionist, coercive, manipulative dictatorship.”

As anyone who has bought anything can attest, the United States is conversely fulfilling one of V.I. Lenin’s doctrines by purchasing the rope with which the communists plan to hang us. Too many things sold in America are made in China and too many corporations have moved their plants and operations to China, undermining the U.S. domestic economy and helping a nation that seeks to destroy us.

One of many countermeasures recommended by Mr. Menges is expelling all companies that function as fronts for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army or other military or intelligence-related entities in China, Russia or any other nonallied state. Investigative reporter Kenneth R. Timmerman estimates there are hundreds of such companies in Southern California alone.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarks and Mr. Menges’ book reveal China’s commitment to expanding its empire by intimidation and force, and how the United States had better take China’s intentions seriously if we are to confront and repel it.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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