China is modifying short-range mobile missiles to target U.S. forces in Okinawa and is sharply increasing the number of missiles aimed at Taiwan, according to the Pentagon’s latest annual report on Chinese military power.
“Beijing has greatly expanded its arsenal of increasingly accurate and lethal ballistic missiles and long-range strike aircraft that are ready for immediate application should the [Peoples Liberation Army] be called upon to conduct war before its modernization aspirations are fully realized,” according to the report released yesterday.
The Chinese are working on a medium-range missile that will give Beijing the ability to launch attacks against the 25,000 U.S. troops deployed on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. The new missiles also will be able to hit Taiwan from bases farther inland from the Chinese coast, the report said.
Currently, all of China’s short-range CSS-7 and CSS-6 missiles are deployed in the Nanjing military region, located across the Taiwan Strait from China.
The new CSS-6s will “employ satellite-aided navigation to enable attacks against both Okinawa and Taiwan.”
China now has deployed 450 short-range missiles and the force will grow by more than 75 missiles a year, the report said.
Last year’s report said China had 350 CSS-6 and CSS-7 missiles within striking range of Taiwan and that the Chinese military was adding 50 a year.
The missiles pose “a growing and significant challenge … to U.S. forces in the western Pacific, as well as to allies and friends, including Taiwan.”
Regarding the threat to Taiwan, the report states that China could use “decapitation” attacks against the island using missiles, aircraft or an amphibious assault.
“China’s efforts to develop coercive military options present challenges not only to Taiwan, but also to other countries in the region such as the Philippines and Japan,” the report said.
China also is beefing up its long-range nuclear missiles.
Along with building new intercontinental ballistic missiles, China may abandon its pledge not to be the first to use nuclear arms in a conflict. Beijing is “reconsidering” how it would use nuclear weapons “against U.S. forces in the region,” the report said.
The report also warns that China is building up its “information warfare” forces in preparation for a conflict over Taiwan, which President Bush has vowed to defend from Chinese attack.
Beijing has adopted a new strategy of what Beijing military planners call “assassin’s mace” arms — advanced weapons designed for use against U.S. forces.
Current “assassins maces” that could trump advanced U.S. weapons include fighter bombers, submarines, antiship missiles, and mines that could attack U.S. aircraft carriers.
“Chinese doctrine continues to emphasize surprise, deception, and shock effect in the opening phase of a campaign,” the report said.
China’s military buildup has led the Pentagon to quietly build up its military forces in the Pacific in recent months. Attack submarines have been deployed in Guam, along with stockpiles of air-launched cruise missiles. Bombers also have been moved to the region to deal with either a conflict in Korea or possibly a war over Taiwan, defense officials said.
China continues to build up its military in utmost secrecy. Its military spending is estimated to be many times greater than the official estimate of $20 billion annually, the report said.
Based on observation of U.S. forces in the 1999 conflict in Kosovo, China has adopted an air-defense system called “Three Attacks and Three Defenses,” that calls for attacking stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and helicopters and defending against precision bombing and missile strikes, electronic warfare and enemy reconnaissance, the report said.
China also watched U.S. Special Forces and increasingly mobile U.S. military forces operate in Afghanistan and Iraq, the report said.
The report states that China’s leaders believe Communist Party rule would be undermined if the military loses a future war over China.
Strategically, China’s communist leaders are using a Leninist approach in an attempt to influence “those who oppose and those who support China’s interest’s abroad.”
“Once China’s leaders make the distinction between friend and foe, they can develop and tailor [propaganda] themes to counter opposition and advance their overall agenda,” the report said. “Moreover, such distinctions position China to reward ‘friends’ abroad, or alternatively, punish ‘enemies’ to enhance its own position in the balance of power.”
The report, required by a provision of the 2000 defense authorization law, includes other details of China’s buildup, such as:
New fighter aircraft made indigenously as well as purchases of Russian Su-30 and Su-27 fighter-bombers.
Purchase of eight new Kilo submarines from Russia, along with antiship cruise missiles for the subs. China also is purchasing two Russian Sovremeny warships.
Development of advanced weapons, including lasers, radio-frequency bombs and anti-satellite weapons.