New York Times

U.S. Says China Is Stepping Up Short-Range Missile Production

By THOM SHANKER July 31, 2003

 

 

WASHINGTON, July 30 China has accelerated production of short-range ballistic missiles, not only to hold Taiwan at peril but also "to complicate United States intervention in a Taiwan Strait conflict," the Pentagon said today in its annual assessment of the Chinese military.

China has deployed about 450 short-range ballistic missiles with conventional warheads capable of striking Taiwan and is expected to expand that force by 75 missiles a year for the next few years, the report states.

By comparison, the Pentagon last year had counted 350 of the missiles in China's arsenal and had predicted 50 would be deployed each year.

China is also developing an advanced, medium-range version of the missile. If deployed, the report said, the missile could strike Japanese or American forces within an arc across the western Pacific as far away as Okinawa.

The report said China had increased military spending to pay for accelerated missile production, a fleet of Chinese-made strike aircraft and warships purchased from Russia. China's strategy, the report said, is to prevail so quickly in any Taiwan crisis that the United States could not intervene effectively.

"While seeing opportunity and benefit in interactions with the United States primarily in terms of trade and technology Beijing apparently believes that the United States poses a significant long-term challenge," the report said.

Aware that China's overriding foreign policy objective remains the return of Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province, the report states that a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait is "the primary driver for China's military modernization."

"While it professes a preference for resolving the Taiwan issue peacefully, Beijing is also seeking credible military options," the report says. "Should China use force against Taiwan, its primary goal likely would be to compel a quick negotiated solution on terms favorable to Beijing."

The report with classified details, was delivered late Tuesday to Congress as required by law. An unclassified version was released today by the Pentagon.

The report titled "Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China" estimated that China's military spending could total up to $65 billion a year, the second-largest military budget after that of the United States.

Chinese military doctrine now emphasizes "surprise, deception, and shock effect in the opening phase of a campaign," the report states.

Among China's new weapons are purchases from Russia, the report said, including guided missile destroyers and diesel-electric powered attack submarines that could threaten American warships.

Outside experts on the Chinese military said it remained impossible to state with certainty China's military intentions.

Adam Segal, project director for a recent study by the Council on Foreign Relations on the topic, said that American policy makers must avoid underreacting or overreacting to a perceived Chinese military threat.

The council study said America's military was 20 years ahead of China's technologically and was likely to increase that lead. "But that ignores very specific situations, especially the Taiwan scenario, where China could cause real problems for the United States," Mr. Segal said in a telephone interview today.

He said China's goal "is not to invade Taiwan, but to use force to coerce Taiwan back to the negotiating table."

 

 

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