NEWS AND ANALYSIS:
Chinese missile test
China recently conducted a long-range missile flight test that remains shrouded in secrecy.
The Sept. 25 test highlights what China military specialists say is the growing threat posed by Beijing’s development of long- and short-range ballistic and cruise missiles, and its new missile defense interceptors.
A U.S. official confirmed that China’s military fired a missile from the Taiyuan missile center, about 320 miles southwest of Beijing, to Korla, a city in western China some 1,800 miles away.
Officials declined to provide details, saying the test data are classified.
China watchers in Asia and the United States were alerted to the test by a Sept. 23 “notice to airmen” issued by the Chinese government. The notice warned aircraft to stay clear of a corridor of airspace stretching from Taiyuan to Korla until Sept. 25.
After Sept. 25, one Chinese-language military-oriented Internet site reported that the test involved an anti-missile interceptor, part of the new ABM program first announced in January, or perhaps a shorter-range system. A second website reported that a long-range missile was tested.
One theory is that the test included the launch of a target missile from Taiyuan and an interceptor missile from Korla, which is known for past work on Chinese anti-missile defenses.
Since the test, an official wall of silence has gone up. There was hope that China would announce the missile firing as it did in January, when a missile defense interceptor test was disclosed in a brief public statement.
The silence may be a sign that the missile test was a failure.
More likely, analysts say, the test showed some new military capability of China’s growing missile forces that the government does not want to advertise, notably the high-technology anti-ship ballistic missile, based on a modified DF-21 medium-range missile.
In August, Navy Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, said the anti-ship ballistic missile “has undergone repeated tests and it is probably very close to being operational.”
The anti-ship ballistic missile has a range of up to 1,200 miles and is designed to attack U.S. aircraft carriers at sea, a difficult targeting problem because of the high speeds of missile warheads that re-enter the atmosphere and then must maneuver to ships with precision guidance.
Spokesmen for the Pentagon and CIA declined to comment on the test.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong said he was not aware of the test but stated that if it took place, China’s military “poses no threat to any other countries, and serves for peace and stability in the region and in the world at large.”
Turkish-Chinese war games
The Pentagon said Wednesday that the Turkish government promised to protect U.S. defense technology during its recent military exercises with China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) — drills that analysts say may have compromised key NATO war-fighting secrets.
Army Lt. Col. Tamara Parker, a Pentagon spokeswoman, confirmed European press reports of the unusual aerial military exercises last month involving U.S.-made Turkish jets and Chinese Su-27 fighters that engaged in simulated aerial combat.
“The government of Turkey is committed to the NATO Alliance and the continuation of strong ties to the United States, and Turkey assured us they would take the utmost care related to their possession of U.S. and NATO technologies,” Col. Parker told Inside the Ring.
However, she did not address the issue of whether the Chinese military might have learned sensitive NATO aerial combat information.
Jane’s Defense Weekly, quoting Turkish diplomatic sources, stated that the exercises involved less-capable U.S.-made F-4s and Chinese Su-27s, but not more advanced U.S.-made F-16s.
Ed Timperlake, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and former Pentagon technology security official, said allowing the Chinese air force to exercise with a NATO ally poses security risks.
“‘You fight like you train’ is a saying from Top Gun school,” Mr. Timperlake said. “The Turkish air force helping the PLAAF to see NATO combat tactics and training up close and personal is a very bad idea. It is deadly serious stuff.”
Mr. Timperlake said the exercises and Turkey’s warming relations with neighboring Iran should lead the Pentagon to rethink its decision to sell the new F-35 jet to Turkey.
Richard Fisher, a specialist on China’s military at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, also criticized Turkey’s military for conducting aerial exercises with a communist power that poses a threat to U.S. and allied security interests in Asia. “It’s not a good thing,” he said.
Mr. Fisher said Turkey in the late 1990s used Chinese technology to jointly develop short-range B611 missiles.
The Tehran Press TV Online reported on Monday that Iran opened its airspace to the Turkish and Chinese jets.
“All of this raises questions about Turkey’s continued slide away from the West,” Mr. Fisher said.
The joint Turkish-Chinese war games also were held before the scheduled visit to Turkey by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
Moynihan on Gates
A book of letters written by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York Democrat, contains some of the former Senate Select Committee on Intelligence vice chairman’s harsh criticism of secrecy and the CIA — mainly the agency’s failure to predict the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Moynihan, in a 1990 letter to Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, stated that “the central and enduring problem of the secrecy system is that while the [principal] actors typically feel that they have no choice but to rely on the secrets as a guide to national policy, the secrets are frequently wrong.”
“In the end the system failed utterly to foretell the collapse of the Soviet Union,” he stated.
Later he wrote, “but we can’t admit it.”
“I held hearings on the subject; made inquiries. Silence. For example, I know that the CIA once estimated that in 1975 the Soviet economy was 62 percent the size of the American economy. They know that I know this. They know that I know that they know I know. But they can’t bring themselves to admit it. No breaking ranks with the past.”
Mr. Moynihan wrote a memorandum of conversation of his 1993 telephone call with President Clinton after he helped pass a budget, despite the senators’ objection to cutting $1 billion from teaching hospitals in New York to increase the CIA budget.
“I said the agency has become corrupt as I watch [CIA Director Robert M.] Gates corrupt Sen. [David] Boren [Oklahoma Democrat and intelligence committee chairman],” Mr. Moynihan stated.
“I always expected to hear Gates was in Oklahoma to announce a grant,” he said. “Instead I learn that he has given $150 million for the David L. Boren scholarships. That is corruption. … The president mumbled.”
Mr. Gates was among the Soviet affairs analysts who missed the Soviet Union’s fall. He went on to be CIA director before becoming defense secretary in 2006.
Mr. Moynihan, in a 1993 letter to the president, said the problem was that “most of the Sovietologists and analysts, in and out of government, were liberals” who believed the Soviet Union was dangerous but not evil, with two notable exceptions being Ronald Reagan on the right and himself on the left.
The system that failed on the collapse of the Soviet Union was “still in place and untouched,” he wrote, with the White House sending for Senate confirmation people who were unqualified. “Standard conservatives have been replaced by standard liberals,” he said.
“Shouldn’t that bother you? Shouldn’t there be one person, possibly two, in the administration who asks on your behalf: Good Christ, if we missed that what else are we missing?” he stated. “Instead we are seeing the institutional equivalent of a cover up. Never good news for the presidency.”
Mr. Moynihan, who died in March 2003, was not around for the CIA’s failures related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its questionable National Intelligence Estimte in 2007 that said Iran had halted its nuclear program in 2003.
The book, “Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visonary,” was edited by Steven R. Weisman.
• Bill Gertz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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