China Report Urges Missile Shield

Daily News Article   —   Posted on October 1, 2008

(by Bill Gertz, The United States needs new weapon systems, including missile defenses and other advanced military capabilities, to deter and counter China’s steady buildup of nuclear and conventional arms, according to a draft internal report by a State Department advisory board.

U.S. defense policy has stressed missile defenses against Iran and North Korea. The report, by the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), is the first to recommend such defenses against China, including technology in space.

The draft, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, said Chinese strategy goes beyond building forces capable of retaking the island of Taiwan. China seeks to “break out” by projecting power beyond its region including sea lanes that carry energy resources for its modernization, the document said.

“Using superior U.S. military technical capacities, the United States should undertake the development of new weapons, sensors, communications, and other programs and tactics to convince China that it will not be able to overcome the U.S. militarily,” the report said.

The draft report presents a tough assessment of Chinese strategic modernization that goes beyond many current government and private-sector analyses that say that China’s military modernization does not pose a major challenge to U.S. security interests.

For example, in an interview with The Washington Times in March, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden expressed professional “admiration” for China’s rapid and sophisticated buildup and said it is “not inevitable that they will be an enemy.” The report said that to reduce the chance of a miscalculation by China that could lead to a crisis or conflict, the United States “must take seriously China’s challenge to U.S. military superiority in the Asia-Pacific region. … China’s military modernization is proceeding at a rate … to be of concern even with the most benign interpretation of China’s motivation.”

Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong said in a statement that China is “naturally becoming stronger and more influential in world affairs” after 30 years of reform, but remains committed to peaceful development and a “foreign policy of peace.”

“China will not harm anyone or pose a threat to anyone. China’s development is opportunity, not threat. Any versions of China threat will continue to be proved fallacious,” he said.

Mr. Wang also said his government is “committed to the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question and the peaceful reunification” of the island with the mainland.

The draft by the 17-member advisory board has not been officially released. A State Department official familiar with the report said it is in the late stages and could be completed in the next several weeks.

The official said the report’s stark assessment of China’s strategy and forces was in line with the board’s mandate to provide frank advice to the secretary of state from analysts outside government.

Brandon A. Buttrick, the ISAB executive director, said his office did not know when members would complete their review. “If the report is an unclassified report, it will be made available for public distribution as we have done with the previous ISAB reports when they are approved by the ISAB,” he said.

The board is headed by former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The task force that produced the report was led by Robert Joseph, a former undersecretary of state and specialist on nonproliferation. The task force included former Sen. Charles S. Robb, Virginia Democrat; Allison B. Fortier, a vice president for missile defense at Lockheed Martin; and William Van Cleave, emeritus professor for defense and security studies at Missouri State University.


The draft report said China’s “major objective is to counter U.S. presence and U.S. military capabilities in East Asia through the acquisition of offensive capacities in critical functional areas that systematically exploit U.S. vulnerabilities.” It said the buildup involves capabilities for “asymmetric warfare,” such as space and computer weapons, that could help Chinese forces defeat a stronger U.S. military.

Among the areas of U.S. strategic vulnerability identified in the report are gaps in U.S. missile defenses; dependence on space for communications; the U.S. inability to use force against China except through aircraft carrier groups; and “fragile electronics and the Internet.” The report recommends that the United States acquire new offensive space and cyber warfare capabilities and missile defenses as well as “more robust sea- and space-based capabilities” to deter any crisis over Taiwan.

China currently has about 20 missiles capable of reaching the United States but is projected to have more than 100 nuclear missiles, some likely with multiple warheads, by 2015, the report said.

Among the key findings:

  • Continued rapid economic growth of 10 percent a year is “vital” for China to continue to compete with the United States and achieve its main goals of regime survival and regional dominance.
  • China’s industrial and defense espionage is aimed at obtaining advanced technology for economic and military modernization.
  • The scale, scope and speed of China’s rise fundamentally impacts U.S. national security, yet the U.S. “possesses only a limited understanding of Chinese intentions, and how Beijing’s economic and military expansion affects these interests.”
  • China’s military and civilian leaders are not always on the same page and that separation is a potential “focal point” for mitigating hostility. China’s civilian leaders understand Americans but the Chinese military suffers from “clear paranoia and misperceptions” about U.S. intentions.
  • To avoid an “emerging creep” by China toward strategic nuclear coercion, “the United States will need to pursue new missile defense capabilities, including taking full advantage of space,” the report said.


The advisory panel report also recommended that the U.S. increase sales of advanced conventional forces to allies in Asia and improve counterintelligence efforts.


Copyright 2008 News World Communications, Inc.  Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times.  This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.  Visit the website at


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