A study on: Exploring U.S. Missile Defense Requirements in 2010: What Are the Policy and Technology Challenges?
China and the Northeast
Asian Powers: The Great Challenge of Tomorrow?
The economic power that is expected to develop in Northeast Asia by 2010 also bears the potential to support the development of powerful military capabilities. Moreover, this region is riven with a legacy of bitterness and distrust imbued by past aggression and abuses of power. Thus, Northeast Asia contains many dormant seeds of conflict. Much depends on how the major players in Northeast Asia politically interact during the next decade or so as rapid change destroys the status quo. Will China, Japan, Russia, Korea, and the United States be able to balance their divergent national interests in this region in a peaceful manner, or will one or more of these powers make a miscalculation, one that triggers a crisis or perhaps even open warfare?
Adding to the complexity of this situation are the issues of Korean unification, the exploding energy needs of the region, the possibility that the rising tide of nationalism could sow the seeds of war, the uncertain nature of Taiwan-PRC relations, and the inescapable fact that the diversity of cultures interacting in Northeast Asia increases the possibility of an inadvertent confrontation.
It is against this backdrop that Chapter 3 will briefly review the situations in Korea and Japan, then concentrate on China. While any country has the possibility of triggering a crisis, China, with its prickly pride and excessive sensibilities, is judged to be the most critical piece of the puzzle with regard to the long-term prospects for stability in Northeast Asia and, as such, will be examined in greater detail.
Korea, the Paradox in Northeast Asia's Future?
As noted under the assumptions in Chapter 1, it is expected that the Korean peninsula will be undergoing the process of reunification by 2010. If events unfold according to the current thinking in Seoul's Blue House, the process of reunification could begin within the next 2-5 years and is almost a certainty within the next 10 years. If the reunification process goes according to South Korea's plans, the economies of the current two states will be kept separate initially, then merged slowly over a period of perhaps 10 years. (The South Koreans want to avoid the problems that Germany has encountered in reunifying too quickly.)1 If this scenario plays out as described, North Korea will continue to be a source of short-term proliferation over the next 2-10 years. However, once reunification begins, the capabilities of both states will be merged and the balance of power in East Asia will likely shift. (Note: U.S. officials are not so confident that reunification will occur during this time frame.)
The North's Near-Term Proliferation Threat. In the near-term, North Korea poses a clear proliferation threat. It has developed an independent nuclear production cycle, an estimated 1-5 nuclear weapons,2 biological weapons, and a huge stockpile of toxic materials (manufactured in eight military-owned chemical weapons factories).3 In addition, aided by funding from Iran (since the mid-1980s),4 Chinese training of up to 200 North Koreans in missile technologies,5 imported Russian nuclear and missile technicians, and access to other Russian expertise via electronic mail,6 North Korea is developing an indigenous missile industry. Beginning with a fledgling ballistic missile program in 1981 (with the reported acquisition of some Scud Bs from Egypt, which it then reverse-engineered), North Korea is in the process of developing a significant (if erratic) missile-production capability.
Since North Korea began full missile production runs in 1987, it is believed to have produced 80-120 Scud B/C missiles per year. Current Scud production is thought to be only Scud C models, which have a range of 500-600 kms. The Scud C has been sold to Iran and Syria, while Scud C components have apparently been sold to Egypt as feedstock for Egypt's indigenous missile production project. The shipments of Scud components to Egypt reportedly involved seven shipments, to include one shipment in April 1996 that was so large that the Egyptian military had to arrange for a larger freighter to deliver the goods.7 Although unconfirmed, it is also possible that Peru tried to arrange the purchase of some Scud-C missiles and related equipment from North Korea.8
As for the new and more complex Nodong-1 missiles (now believed to be in production), it is expected that North Korea could generate an annual output of 30-50 units (if Scud production were halted).9 The Nodong-1 is a 15.5-meter-long redesigned missile based on Scud technology (the Scud C is 11 meters long), but incorporating a longer fuel tank and using a cluster of four engines to provide additional thrust giving it a range of 1000-1300 kms carrying a separating warhead payload of 700-1000 kgs.10 From North Korea, the Nodong's range arc covers most of Japan, the obvious target country for this missile system. Just as worrisome is the possibility that a few Nodong missiles may have been exported to Iran, providing Iran with a potential capability for targeting Israel. (There is some uncertainty on the current status of the planned transfer. Although there has been speculation that a few Nodongs had already been transferred to Iran, General Peay, USCINCCENT, in a Spring 1996 interview, stated that Iran's recent efforts to buy a number of Nodongs were stymied due to funding problems.11
Nevertheless, Iran still plans to deploy long-range ballistic missiles — possibly in a tunnel complex being constructed along the coast.12
Looking to the future, North Korea is developing its next generation of missile systems which have been named the Taepodong (TD) 1 and 2. Although this missile is still under development (with available information sketchy and highly speculative), preliminary reports indicate that the TD-1 may be an 18-meter-long missile with a range of 1500-2000 kms. It is believed that the TD-2 version will be constructed by adding a 14-meter-long thruster on top of a Taepodong 1 missile body to create a two-stage system.13 Although there is some controversy concerning the expected range of the TD-2, it seems likely that the missile will have a range arc that lies in the 4000-6000 km band (while carrying a 1000 kg warhead).14 The TD-2 is expected to be ready for deployment sometime in the time frame of 2000-2005.15 This missile will be able to range the U.S. airbase at Guam and the critical early warning radar site at Shemya. It may also be able to hit the Prudhoe Bay oil fields east of Point Barrow, Alaska as well as the population and military centers at Anchorage and Fairbanks. See Figure 3-2.
To a large extent, the proliferation potential and long-term threat that the Taepodong family of missiles present are dependent on the speed with which these two missiles are developed and the rate at which North Korea collapses. Obviously, missile sales provide North Korea with desperately needed foreign exchange, oil, or food aid. Considering North Korea's willingness to sell missiles, the TD-2 is a major proliferation candidate if it should go into production prior to reunification.
As a related issue, North Korean technology and knowledge of weapons of mass destruction, missile production, and related equipment also pose proliferation concerns. For example, there are allegations that North Korea provided assistance to Iran and Syria in setting up missile production facilities and,16 in the case of Iran, also helped set up a missile test facility at Shahroud and the related tracking station at Tabas.17 Moreover, there are reports that North Korea is transferring technology on chemical and biological weapons, with Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya being specifically cited as recipient nations.18 As North Korea is already believed to have the ability to manufacture bomblet technology for its ballistic missile warheads,19 it seems likely that it has developed submunition packaging for CW and BW agents, which it may be willing to sell.
The South's Proliferation Potential. In the short term, South Korea is understandably concerned about the North's nuclear, missile, and military capabilities in general, but long-term, it is more worried about Japan's nuclear and missile potential. In a sense, however, these concerns complement and reinforce South Korea's growing desire to see a united Korean peninsula play an influential role in East Asia during the next century — an era that many in the Asian community believe will become known as "the Asian century."
South Korea has an extensive nuclear power industry that includes 11 atomic power plants. Moreover, the work that was done during the 1970s on developing a nuclear weapon reportedly reached the point where it was about 95 percent complete before pressure from the United States halted its development.20 Essentially, South Korea has the knowledge and skills to become a nuclear power very rapidly if it so chooses, but since its nuclear industry is under IAEA safeguards, its biggest obstacle to becoming a nuclear power is access to weapons-grade material. This obstacle could be overcome if South Korea gained access to Russian fissile material or was able to circumvent IAEA safeguards.
Coincidentally, there have been a few reports which indicate that South Korea may have been the intended destination for some intercepted weapons-grade fissile material that was being smuggled out of Russia.21 When these reports are linked to other reports that indicate that South Korea is pursuing the development or acquisition of dual-use technology that would allow it to develop nuclear weapons (if required), it seems to show a circumstantial pattern of activity which indicates that South Korea may either be planning to develop a nuclear weapon or is taking precautionary action to ensure that it could assemble a nuclear arsenal within a short period of time.22
As for delivery systems, South Korea has been pursuing missile technology. Although hampered by a 1979 bilateral US-ROK accord (reaffirmed in 1990) which limited its right to develop ballistic missiles to those with a range of 180 kms or less, South Korea is working to abolish this accord and join the missile technology control regime (MTCR) which would limit its military missile development to 300 kms, but allow it to pursue space-launch vehicle development.23 By 2015, South Korea has ambitions of having 19 space satellites in geosynchronous orbit (using its own launch vehicles).24 Since studies have shown that space launch capabilities are not commercially viable (excess capacity exists among the established launch providers), there are suspicions that South Korea is interested in developing a commercial space launch capability as a way of hedging against an uncertain future in which it may need its own missile force.
It should also be noted that upon reunification, South Korea will gain access to the missile capabilities being developed by North Korea. As such, North Korea's CW, BW, and nuclear weapons and technology are likely to be joined to South Korea's advanced technological capabilities.
(South Korea is believed to have conducted research on CW and BW.)25 Consequently, a united Korea could well become a nuclear, chemical, and biologically armed power with IRBM or ICBM delivery capabilities sometime in the 2010 — 2015 time frame. Of course, how the reality of this potential capability plays out is highly dependent on the political moves and events that unfold during the next 10 or so years.
Future Role of a Reunified Korea. South Korean officials, looking beyond reunification, are focusing much thought on the role that a reunified Korean peninsula will likely play in East Asia. They seem to believe that Korea will be able to leverage its peninsular geographic position and its military power in ways that will allow it to play an influential role in the region. Many Koreans claim that a reunified Korea will be the France of East Asia — an ally of the United States, but one that charts its own independent course.26 Within the new regional order, Korea sees for itself the role of mediator between Washington and Beijing. Within the new envisioned era, they seem to believe that China is a state with which Korea can deal. As one ranking official noted, China is "a benign giant" that could cause pain if he "accidentally stepped on you while walking through the neighborhood," but was unlikely — in the Korean experience — to strike out intentionally. According to this official, there are other smaller countries [implying Japan] that have more often acted like deliberate predators. As is repeated often in Seoul, Korea has had 5000 years of experience in handling its larger neighbor, all of which gives Seoul a more balanced perspective on the China threat than that being voiced in Tokyo or Washington.27 It seems clear that Korean policy makers expect a united Korea to have close and friendly relations with China. (Korean officials are very conscious of the fact that China has existed on Korea's doorstep for the last 5000 years; they wonder where will the United States be 50 years from now since China will still be next door.)
As for its future relations with Russia, Korean thinkers still seem somewhat wary of the Bear, yet there does not seem to be much fear that an adversarial relationship might develop between the two countries. Rather, it is its historic enemy, Japan, which most concerns many Koreans. It is understood that relations between Japan and Korea may again turn hostile as the new regional order in East Asia evolves.28 In the event that Japan and Korea find themselves at odds with each other, the United States could be placed in the role of playing peacemaker between these two states (i.e., another Greece-Turkey situation) or be forced to choose sides between them. In short, the United States might find itself facing a difficult situation in Northeast Asia as Korea, Russia, and China form a de facto alliance against Japan.
Japan, the Dark Horse of East Asia
Japan's defeat in World War II turned that historically militant country into a nation of pacifists. This transformation was strengthened by the shocking effects of the two atomic bombs that the United States employed to end the war. The survivors of that nuclear holocaust were also left with an acute abhorrence of nuclear weapons. The realigned public opinion eschewed military means as an instrument of policy. This opinion was frozen in time by an American-authored provision in the new Japanese constitution in which war or the threat of force were specifically renounced as a means of settling international disputes. Nevertheless, from a practical standpoint, Japan's ability to abide by its nonmilitary constitutional provision is clearly dependent on U.S. continuance as a reliable provider for Japan's external security.
The fear in East Asia is that Japan will eventually return to its militant, expansionistic roots, while in Japan there is a fear that the United States may be in decline as a world power and that the growing economic and military capabilities of other states in the region may force Japan to establish itself again as an overt military power. Clearly, however, a rearming of Japan would be a two-edged sword as it would likely ignite an arms race in East Asia and could trigger the formation of alliances against Japan (a development that would not be in the United States' long-term national interest).
Obviously, missile and WMD capabilities will play a major role in Japan's future security situation. The growing military capabilities in China and on the Korean peninsula, coupled with the unstable political situation in Russia, have made the Japanese understandably nervous. As a result, the Japanese people have begun again to discuss military issues that have been heretofore taboo in modern Japanese society, to include the possibility of amending, rewriting, or reinterpreting their constitution to allow for military action.29 Even the "N" word is beginning to be discussed as the Japanese public is slowly awakening to the potential implications of being surrounded by hostile nuclear powers.30
Japan has an extensive nuclear power industry with 36 operating reactors,31 with another 15 planned for construction by 2010.32 Japan, with little indigenous petroleum reserves, is in the process of developing a self-sustaining plutonium-based nuclear power industry that will include breeder reactors and a complete plutonium fuel-cycle processing capability. As a result of this activity, Japan will create large stockpiles of refined plutonium, a stockpile that is expected to amount to 45-90 tons by 2010.33 (Although much of this material would be reactor-grade plutonium, see Figure 4-6, page 4.23.) The potential military threat represented by this capability is a matter of considerable concern to many regional statesman. They fear that Japan's current leadership actually is preparing the country for the day in which the World War II generation of Japanese pass from the scene and a new generation of leadership acts to arm the country.
Fears that Japan may "go nuclear" are reinforced by reports of Japanese activities that seem to be aimed at laying the groundwork for such a move.
Reports that feed this fear include: Japan may have designed a nuclear device and developed it to the point where it only requires the addition of plutonium to make it an operable weapon.34
About 3 percent of Japan's plutonium stocks cannot be accounted for at any one time.35 While the methods of accounting for plutonium are inexact and lend themselves to some manipulation, studies seem to indicate that the hoped-for deviation in plutonium accounting is in the 2 percent or less range, while experts also acknowledge that the figure could legitimately be a higher in some cases.36 As a result, some policy experts are concerned that Japan's 3 percent deviation figure could be concealing a covert nuclear weapons program (but without sufficient evidence to make such a charge).
Japan is believed to have identified and developed within its commercial community the technology required to support a nuclear weapons program.37
Turning to missile delivery systems, Japan's space program is developing the technology that could be shifted rapidly into an offensive ballistic missile capability if Japan should so choose. Currently, Japan's H-II space launch vehicle is capable of launching a two-ton payload into geostationary orbit.38 This two-stage missile has the potential for being used as an ICBM with a range of over 14,000 kms; however, as it uses cryogenic fuel that requires considerable time to upload, it would be vulnerable to a preemptive strike. Nonetheless, this vulnerability is of a fleeting nature. Currently, Japan is in the process of developing and testing the new solid-fueled MV missile system that will provide Japan with the capability of launching a 1.8-ton payload into a low earth-orbit of 250 kms.39 Moreover, this missile, when fielded, holds the potential for being adapted as an IRBM.
In short, when considering Japan's economic and technological strengths, it is clear that this state could easily field a nuclear-tipped force of ICBMs by 2010 — if it determined that it was in its national interest to do so. While it is not likely that Japan has yet broken its international obligations incurred under the various nonproliferation and export control agreements, it cannot be denied that Japan is located in a region that could become unstable and force it to reevaluate its military posture, to include whether or not it is in Japan's interest to continue to forego ICBMs and nuclear weapons. Clearly, for Japan, it will be the actions and interactions of the other major regional actors (i.e., the United States, Korea, China, and Russia) that will likely govern its future security policies. However, with provocation (and if the United States' security shield becomes viewed as being of questionable reliability), Japan could move to arm itself in a way likely to upset the current balance-of-power structure in East Asia.
China, the Great Conundrum Of the 21st Century?
The emergence of China as a great power has been expressed as being "the defining structural issue for the international system for the first quarter of the next century."40 The evolution of such a colossus is bound to alter the global power structure as it is now understood. Although China is not an "evil empire" in the sense that the Soviet Union was so classified, it will still be a difficult state with which to deal, one that has the potential for triggering a nuclear confrontation.
Modern China is very patriotic, imbued with a collective sense of 5000 years of glorious history, a history blotted by 140 years of humiliation by the Western imperialistic powers (19th and early 20th centuries). Unfortunately, this sense of humiliation still irritates China's national psyche and colors its policy development. In essence, China's leaders govern by the principle, "Never again will China be dictated to by the Western imperialist powers — regardless of cost!" Thus, any Chinese leader who appears to bow to Western pressure on issues involving China's rights as a sovereign nation stands in danger of being purged. For practical purposes, this means that the United States tendency to conduct confrontational diplomacy via the news media puts Chinese leaders in the position of having to oppose U.S. initiatives for fear that acquiescence would appear as yielding to Western imperialistic power (a "loss-of-face" issue).
With Deng Xiaoping's passing, China's political leadership has been weakened. This weakness has allowed the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to increase its influence in China's political decision-making process. Deng, with his credentials as one of the old revolutionary leaders, was in a position to deal with pressure from the West in a fairly pragmatic manner, secure from charges that he was unwilling to stand up to the Western imperialists.
The current leadership, lacking the stature bequeathed on their predecessors by their participation in China's revolution, has much less flexibility in handling international issues. For example, there are some China experts who believe that the Central Military Commission pressured the political leadership to take a hard line against Taiwan in retaliation for President Lee's visit to the United States. According to one report, the political leadership was not inclined to make an issue of the visit until the Central Military Commission applied pressure to President Zemin41 (who never served in the military).42 Similarly, China's internal political weakness increases the possibility that a Western power could try to pressure Chinese policy publicly and inadvertently trigger a military confrontation when China's leadership finds itself in an untenable position and refuses to yield on the issue (even in the face of disproportionate military power).
China's prickly national sensitivity toward sovereignty issues is coupled to a national legacy of Confucian values in which the world is viewed in terms of an absolute hierarchy. Within this philosophy, the idea of a relationship between sovereign equals is a foreign concept. In practical terms, as the Chinese view themselves as being the world's greatest civilization, the Confucian philosophy imbues this ancient civilization with a cultural orientation that suggests that China should lead the world. Thus, as China continues to grow in economic and military might, it should be expected that the country will exercise its power and become more assertive in international affairs. This could result in tense relations with the United States, especially as China sees the status of Taiwan as being its number one national sovereignty issue. Hopefully, China will mature and evolve in ways that allow it to assume this greater role without too much disruption to the international security structure.
It is questionable, however, if China will be able to integrate itself into the current U.S.-led international system without creating significant levels of turmoil. Complicating the process is the fact that China's leaders distrust the West. This distrust stems from three primary factors. The first is that China is governed by leaders who as a group tend to be very provincial in their thought processes and have little understanding of the West (they evolved in a political system isolated from Western thought). Second, these leaders feel personally threatened by American talk of a "peaceful democratic evolution" of China's government, an evolution that would displace them personally from power.43 And lastly, the lessons of China's history over the past two centuries argue against being too trusting of the West, conditioning Chinese leaders to view the international system in terms of realpolitik (i.e., China's experience shows that countries usually pursue politics designed to advance their national interests regardless of the interests of others).
Against this backdrop of distrust and fear, the Chinese view the United States as having vast powers (far beyond reality) that enable it to manipulate events — a situation that possibly carries the seeds for future misinterpretations and confrontations.44 For example, in the event that China is set back in its quest to modernize its economy and expand its global presence, it may well hold the United States responsible for its failures, believing that the U.S. interfered with China's economic development for the purpose of eliminating its potential rival, China, from the contest for future global leadership.
Within this evolving situation, the question that is now occupying Western thinkers is, "How will China use its future military capabilities in pursuit of its national interests?" Historically, China has not been viewed as an expansionistic nation. As was pointed out in the section on Korea, the South Koreans see China as a benign giant that would not deliberately inflict harm. On the other hand, China has used force offensively on a number of occasions during the latter half of the 20th century: China forcibly colonized Tibet in the 1950s, attacked India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1979. More recently, it used military force to press its territorial claims in the South China Sea (to the consternation of the ASEAN nations that make up the major trading bloc in the region). Likewise, China demonstrated disregard for its economic interests with Taiwan when it attempted to use military intimidation to influence Taiwan's March 1996 presidential elections. These two recent events seem to indicate that China may not be much dissuaded by economic considerations in cases where it believes key national interests are at stake and the use of military force is judged to be a viable option. At the same time, there are many in China who are hesitant to see the country become too strong militarily because they fear it will antagonize China's neighbors and could affect commercial interests.45
China's Apparent National Objectives
Again, as was the case with Russia, it is difficult to define China's national objectives. However, the study of reports, leadership statements, and analysis of Chinese activities, taken together, provide sufficient insight into China's apparent national objectives to make an informed assessment. China's key objectives (that bear on future missile-defense issues) seem to be:
1. To develop China's economic and technological potential under the continued leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). China, and particularly the members of the CCP, well understand that the future fate of the country and of the party is, to a large extent, dependent upon sustained economic growth rates in the vicinity of 10 percent per year. If economic growth declined to 6-7 percent, China could have difficulty creating the 10 million or so jobs it needs each year to keep pace with its growing population.46 For China's leadership, economic growth is seen as necessary to validate the legitimacy of the government: the communist ideology has proven invalid; a Confucian-based nationalism and economic prosperity are now seen as the twin issues that are key to legitimizing the continued governance of China by the CCP.47 Until now, however, China's political leadership has allowed economic growth to occur with little direction. China now hopes to change this situation.
The Japanese taught the world that it was not necessary to reinvent the economic wheel — that a country can buy new technology and leap-frog into the future. The Chinese hope to use Japan's example and develop a more disciplined economic policy for the future that will allow them to catch up to the developed world in 15-20 years (Japan took 30 years — 1950-1980).48 According to conversations with Chinese officials, China hopes to recentralize some of its economic planning activities and has tasked the State Planning Commission to define China's economic trajectory for the rest of the decade and beyond. Apparently, China hopes to adopt an industrial policy for its commercial firms that is based on the Japanese model of grouping its industries and linking customer firms with captive supplier companies (keiretsu groupings). For China's defense industries, however, Chinese officials seem to believe that the United States' defense industrial policy provides the better model for China to emulate.49
2. To secure future energy supplies (South China Sea, Central Asia, and the Middle East).
As economies develop around the globe, the demand for oil will likewise increase. For China, which only has about 2.4 percent of the world's total oil and gas reserves,50 future sources of energy supplies are going to be a key factor in its continued ability to sustain economic development as it feeds and supports 1.2 billion people, as it experiences the automotive revolution, as it meets the demand for expanded air travel, and as it engages in energy-intensive manufacturing. According to recent estimates, China's net external requirement for oil imports is expected to rise from the current daily level of 600,000 barrels, to 1 million by 2000, 3 million by 2010, and 7 million barrels per day by 2015.51 During the next 15 years, East Asian oil imports from the Middle East could easily triple.52 In the face of the expected demand, China is interested in securing its future supplies.
It is believed that China's concerns regarding its future energy supplies is also influencing many of its foreign policy decisions. For example, its 1992 announced sovereignty claims to about 80 percent of the South China Sea and its use of military forces to reinforce that claim are clearly aimed at securing oil and gas supplies.53 Although the dispute over the Spratly Island area seems to be cooling somewhat (possibly due to ASEAN diplomacy and Chinese realization that drilling operations would take place in water 2,000-meters deep — deeper than current drilling technology supports), China has indicated that it would accept the provisions of international law and the Law of the Sea Convention to settle the dispute over the Spratly Islands.54 Nevertheless, this region still holds the potential for conflict if oil supplies tighten during the next century and drilling technology advances sufficiently to make feasible the extraction of these deposits.55
Likewise, China's interest in Iran and Iraq (which together contain 20 percent of the world's proven oil reserves) seems clearly linked to its concern over future oil supplies,56 while this same issue might also be coloring China's policy toward the states of Central Asia, states which hold the world's second largest reserves of oil, reserves only exceeded by those of the Middle East. The practical consequences of China's concern over its future oil supplies is that it will likely be difficult to ever gain China's cooperation on any U.S.-led effort designed to contain or to pressure Iran or Iraq (or any other major oil supplier) unless an overwhelming international consensus existed supporting such an action. In the case of such a consensus, China might be persuaded to abstain from voting in the UN Security Council, but it is unlikely that it would actively support such an action.
3. To reunify all Chinese lands by 2010 (Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan)57 and to establish a secure zone along China's core geostrategic periphery.
The existence of Chinese areas, independent from China's control, are constant reminders of China's humiliation during its 140 years of weakness. While the issue of Hong Kong and Macao are settled and these two territories should revert the Chinese control in 1997 and 1999 respectively, the reintegration of Taiwan by 2010 is, of course, much more problematic.
Taiwan's movement toward successful implementation of democratic rule undermines the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party on the mainland to reestablish its legitimacy as the ruling party in China. As noted earlier, the CCP is using economic growth and Confucian-based nationalism to justify its rule since its communist ideology is no longer a viable underpinning for its existence. Under Confucian-based nationalism, the CCP can justify its rule as being good for China, with the Confucian philosophy justifying the CCP's hierarchical, authoritarian rule. In contrast, an economically successful Taiwan under a democratic government would demonstrate that there is a possible alternative to CCP governance.
On the opposite side of the ledger, however, Taiwan offers China an opportunity (in business terms) to engage in a non-hostile takeover of one of the economic crown jewels of East Asia. Taiwan also has a very advanced electronics industry that would greatly benefit China as it enters the information era, especially in light of China's weakness in advanced electronics. In essence, the challenges and potential benefits that Taiwan presents to China ensure that Chinese-Taiwanese relations will remain a tense political issue until the reunification issue is resolved.
Along with the issue of reunification is the problem of securing China's geostrategic periphery. As one Chinese study quantified the threat along China's periphery, 70 percent of China's 21,656 kilometer-long border and 66 percent of its over 3 million square kilometers of territorial waters face some level of external threat.58 In addition, some of the threat cited is a result of disputed territorial claims for islands in the China Sea. The countries with which China has disagreements over islands include Japan plus six other nations involved in the separate Spratly Islands' dispute (separate from a Japanese-Chinese dispute).
As an associated issue to China's national objective of regaining control of all Chinese lands is the influence that the global Chinese ethnic community and, in particular, the Chinese community in Southeast Asia, will have on trade, as well as on China's potential for exercising hegemony in East Asia. Figure 3-4 shows the distribution of that portion of the 55 million ethnic Chinese who are scattered across the globe outside areas such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. Many of these individuals are wealthy and hold dominant positions in their countries of residence. According to one report, the Chinese ethnic community dominates the economies of all of the ASEAN states except for Brunei. Figure 3-5 illustrates this claim by showing the percent of population of each state that is ethnic Chinese, followed an estimate of how much of the private capital of each country is controlled by the ethnic Chinese community. Worldwide, the ethnic Chinese community may hold liquid capital assets of up to US $2 trillion.59
This greater Chinese ethnic community has actively supported China's economic miracle by funneling investments to the mainland, setting up factories in China, and establishing strong trade ties between their countries of residence and the Chinese mainland.60 These ties could hold significant implications for the United States' future security and economic well-being, including:
Preferential economic markets for goods and services. As noted in Chapter 1, a majority of the goods and services that the United States exports are not very high tech. Consequently, future East Asian trading patterns could develop in ways that favor Chinese ethnic connections and create a de facto trading bloc that effectively discriminates against U.S. firms (à la the Sterling bloc of the 1930s). The Chinese ethnic ties into the countries shown in the figures above could create unforeseen economic difficulties for the United States in this important emerging market.
Weakening of nonproliferation restraints. The trading ties that are being established through the ethnic communities could make it easier to transfer sensitive dual-use technologies between parties in East Asia. In short, these ties may negatively affect U.S. nonproliferation efforts as China's technological capabilities advance and private trading conduits through the ethnic community move goods around the region.
4.To increase China's regional and international influence and prestige. This objective was discussed in some detail in the introduction to the China section of this chapter. Although China does not currently aspire to be the world leader, it does expect to be accorded the international respect and leadership position commensurate to a great nation and ancient civilization comprising one-quarter of the world's population.
China's Security Concerns
Consequently, the Chinese can be expected to use diplomacy where possible to achieve their national objectives. Nevertheless, China's basic use-of-force philosophy is neither to seek conflict nor to avoid it.62 China's security concerns are believed to include:
The United States. China's viewpoint that the United States is its most likely long-term security threat63 has been reinforced by the growing U.S. public discussions regarding the need to limit or partially "contain" China. The subsequent dispatch of two U.S. carrier battlegroups to the vicinity of Taiwan in March 1996 apparently has been interpreted by the Chinese as affirming their fear that the United States is adopting a containment strategy for dealing with China.64 (As discussed earlier, the Chinese are suspicious of these types of actions as they view them through a political lens that is focused by the belief that the United States has a hidden agenda to deny China its rightful role in the world.)
Japan. China considers Japan, its number two security threat, to be the most likely to cause it difficulty in East Asia.65 As such, at least during the near-term, China seems to accept continued U.S. involvement with Japan as a means of reassuring Japan and of limiting its inclination to establish a formidable military capability of its own.66
Russia. Although apparently ranked as China's number three threat, for now, China sees Russia primarily as a source of technology. It also views Russia as useful in helping to limit the United States' international role. Both China and Russia are irritated with U.S. actions; therefore, each country gains mutual support from the other as they cooperate against their mutual adversary. In the December 1996 Chinese-Russian Summit, both countries made it clear that they oppose a unipolar world.67
Korea. It is likely that China wants all U.S. forces off the peninsula once reunification occurs.68 Obviously, a continued presence of U.S. forces in Korea after reunification would potentially limit Chinese influence in the peninsula. Those forces would also be useful to the United States in any effort to contain China. At a minimum, China needs the Korean peninsula to be neutral, but preferably allied with China.
India. Although China wants to limit India's national influence, it has taken steps to improve its own relations with that state. It is also still cultivating Pakistan as it is of value to China for its ability to divert India's political attention and to split India's military focus toward two different fronts. In regard to China's national objective of securing its future energy resources, China may have some concerns over India's future naval capabilities since the bulk of China's oil supplies increasingly will be routed through the Indian Ocean. Hence, China may have some concerns over the future security of that route.69 (These concerns are likely ameliorated somewhat by its close relations with Singapore, Thailand, Burma [Myanmar], and Pakistan. See Figure 3-6.)
Iran. China wants good relations with Iran for several reasons. First, Iran is viewed as a potential counterbalance to U.S. influence in the Persian Gulf. Second, it is a major source of energy needed for China's future economic development.70 Third, China may fear the influence that Iran could exert on China's 40 million Muslims that live in the western provinces and hope to prevent Iran from inciting or supporting that minority faction in a bid for autonomy. And fifth, China needs Iran as a market for its defense goods.
China's General Military Modernization Efforts
China entered the 1990s with a limited strategic strike capability and an antiquated conventional military force — a force largely composed of light infantry units equipped with obsolete hardware, an air force with over 4,000 planes, all of which were seriously outclassed by Soviet and Western aircraft (at least 3,400 of its aircraft are based on 1950s technology),71 and a navy equipped to perform limited coastal defense missions. Prior to the 1990s, military modernization was China's last major priority for development. Most modernization of the defense establishment was to be funded primarily through the sale of military and commercial products from PLA-controlled business activities. The Chinese had made a decision to focus their efforts on modernizing their economy first, then using the technology and resources that would evolve from that effort to modernize their armed forces.
Three subsequent events occurred which somewhat modified that plan. First, the PLA's actions in 1989 in crushing the pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square indebted the CCP to the PLA. Second, the United States' military tactics and advanced weapon systems used in operation Desert Storm ended the debate among China's leadership regarding the need to modernize China's military establishment as U.S. successes disproved the hypothesis that had been held by some elements in the leadership that human factors could offset a military-technology edge.72 As a result of these first two events, China began to put more emphasis on its military modernization program, but not at the expense of disrupting its overall economic modernization drive.
This shifting emphasis was further reinforced by a third event, the U.S. dispatch of warships to the Taiwan Strait during the recent China-Taiwan confrontation over Taiwan's Presidential elections in March 1996. The U.S. intervention seems to have convinced the Chinese leadership that military modernization must be pushed harder. Many fairly senior PLA naval officers became very emotional over the insertion of the two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups into the region. They are apparently advocating firing on any future U.S. warships that interfere with the Taiwan issue, regardless of consequences.73 This reflexive response to outside interference in an issue the Chinese view as involving its sovereignty is part of the national psyche discussed previously to "never again bow to the Western Imperialists."
Currently, in concert with its overall economic plan to import technology and leap ahead in its efforts to catch up to the developed world, China is pushing ahead on many fronts to modernize its military. This effort is being supported by a flow of dual-use technology from the United States,74 France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and most other developed nations. In addition, Russia, Israel, South Africa and other states are selling military technology and hardware to China. As a result, China is in the process of upgrading its military potential across a wide spectrum of capabilities, including air and missile defense systems (to include purchase of the SA-10), Kilo submarines (along with the development of a new generation of indigenous models), advanced aircraft (e.g., the Su-27 purchases and pending co-production, and the indigenous development — with Israeli assistance — of the J-10, which may include illegally transferred U.S. avionics),75 air-to-air refueling technology, cruise missile systems, and ballistic missile technology. These represent but a few examples.
China's efforts to develop advanced cruise missile systems is of concern. Although China has been making progress on developing more advanced cruise missiles, the help that is now available from Russian and other sources is likely to speed the process. For example, it is believed that about three years ago China successfully transplanted an entire Russian cruise missile plant, complete with research and development team, to a location near Shanghai.76 As Russian cruise missile technology now supports land-attack ranges of about 4000 kms, China's capabilities in this field (currently limited to about 200 kms) will likely increase rapidly, reaching 600 kms within a couple of years, and probably exceeding 2,000 kms by the year 2005.77 China's cruise missiles in the 2000-2010 time frame are expected to incorporate stealth technology and be equipped with conventional, CW, BW, and nuclear warheads.78 As was noted in Chapter 1, cruise missile systems are proliferating widely; Chinese efforts in this field are part of that trend.
Apparent Ballistic Missile Developments
China's Military Doctrine and Missile Requirements. Until about 1987, China postured its nuclear capability to achieve "minimum deterrence." (Not all Chinese nuclear strategists will use the term "deterrence"; many prefer other terms such as "defense" or "self-protection.")79 This term contrasted China's nuclear posture with that of the United States and the Soviet Union, which maintained "maximum deterrent" postures based on counterforce warfighting doctrines and technologies that provided a distinct first-strike advantage in disarming one's opponent. "For Chinese strategists, minimum deterrence requires only the ability to carry out a simple, undifferentiated countervalue strike."80 Simply put, the fear of nuclear retaliation against a country's population centers by a few warheads is sufficient to deter a nuclear strike from being launched. Chinese strategists had also believed that by maintaining the nuclear strike force at a low number of warheads a country could avoid appearing too threatening.
Beginning in 1987, the Chinese began to use the term "limited deterrence." Initially, limited deterrence was defined in ways not much different from minimum deterrence. Over time, Chinese strategists have defined the concept of limited deterrence much more sharply, giving it a limited counterforce, warfighting flavor. As it is now defined, limited deterrence falls on the deterrent scale between the extremes posited by minimum deterrence and maximum deterrence doctrine. Chinese writings on limited deterrence have been evolving, defining limited deterrence as:
The ability to inflict damage with a few hundred warheads aimed at cities and other targets.
The goal is to develop mutually assured destruction second-strike capabilities.
More recently, as having the capability to deter conventional, theater, and strategic nuclear war and to control and suppress escalation during a nuclear war. In short, "a limited deterrent should be able to respond to any level or type of attack from tactical to strategic, and the initial response should be calibrated to the scope of the initial attack."81 A consensus seems to have formed that a limited deterrent posture should allow China to strike both countervalue and hard and soft counterforce targets.82
Chinese strategists argue that it [limited deterrence] requires a greater number of smaller, more accurate, survivable, and penetrable ICBMs; SLBMs as countervalue retaliatory forces; tactical and theater nuclear weapons to hit battlefield and theater military targets and to suppress escalation; ballistic missile defense to improve the survivability of the limited deterrent; space-based early warning and command and control systems; and anti-satellite weapons (ASATs) to hit enemy military satellites.83
As China's nuclear doctrine evolves and the counterforce requirements inherent in the doctrine of limited deterrence become obvious (i.e., the advantages to be gained from destroying threatening military capabilities before they can be used), many Chinese strategists are expressing frustration over the limits established by China's no-first-use-of-nuclear-weapons pledge. As a result, a number of recent writings are clearly aimed at qualifying China's no-first-use pledge to allow a retaliatory strike on warning or even a first strike when clearly threatened.84 In short, although China's no-first-use policy has not yet been repudiated, it is under assault and its future may be in question.
As for battlefield and theater-level systems, the Persian Gulf war provided a breakthrough in Chinese doctrinal development. The Iraqi use of conventionally armed Scuds and the U.S. use of Tomahawk precision-strike cruise missiles led the Chinese to conclude that shorter-range cruise and ballistic missile systems can play an important role in demoralizing an adversary by inflicting unacceptable levels of losses on important political, economic, and military targets as well as to provide warning of further escalation of the conflict, perhaps by the delivery of a nuclear strike.85 In essence, the Chinese have come to recognize the value of missiles in combat and see them as an essential component in establishing a credible escalatory ladder that ties those systems to the national strategic deterrent forces.86
To summarize, China has adopted a new nuclear doctrine during the past 5-10 years of limited nuclear deterrence. This doctrine is not only guiding ongoing missile developments, it is also providing the rationale for China's future approach to warfighting. While the Chinese view strategic conflict as the most dangerous threat to China, they also expect that most future wars will be fought over limited objectives in regions surrounding China. Thus, China wants a force structure that allows it to fight the short, limited wars in the region while simultaneously posing a significant nuclear deterrent to those global powers that might be tempted to intervene. In addition, China wants to ensure that if a global power intervened in a local war, China can deter the escalation of that conflict to the strategic level by ensuring that it has a credible nuclear warfighting capability that includes a survivable second-strike potential, even if nuclear weapons are used at the theater level. In short, China does not accept the idea that nuclear weapons will have no utility in future wars. On the other hand, Chinese decision making is not a monolithic undertaking. There are many Chinese officials that also argue for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Strategic Missile Forces. In the past (under its doctrine of minimum deterrence), China based its nuclear deterrent posture on a relatively small force of ballistic missiles. The first generation missile systems were liquid-fueled rockets (based on Soviet technology), each model of which was developed with a specific target area in mind. For example, the Dong Feng (East Wind) 2 was a mobile system with a range of 1250 kms so as to be able to strike Japan. As the DF-2 was China's first nuclear-armed missile, the United States designated it Chinese Surface-to-Surface (CSS) 1. China is believed to have built about 160 of these missiles.
Likewise, the mobile DF-3 (CSS-2), range 2800 kms, was a single-stage system theoretically targeted at U.S. military bases in the Philippines. An estimated 90-120 DF-3s were deployed in the 1980s. (Some greater number were manufactured.) Reportedly, 36 of these missiles were sold to Saudi Arabia in 1988 (with conventional warheads).
Similarly, the two-stage DF-4 (CSS-3) was designed initially to hit the U.S. base at Guam and later modified to increase its range to 4750 kms so as to be able to strike Moscow also. An estimated 30 DF-4s have been constructed for ballistic missile use. The same booster is used for several space launch vehicles, including the CZ-2, the CZ-3, and the CZ-4. Many of the DF-4s are stored in caves and must be moved into the open and fueled prior to firing. The fueling operation apparently requires about two hours.87
Of greater significance is the DF-5 ICBM (CSS-4). This missile,first tested in September 1971,88 had a range of 10,000 to 12,000 kms which allowed it to threaten the western portions of the United States. In 1983 the Chinese decided to improve this system to increase its range and provide it with a more accurate guidance system. The resulting missile was designated the DF-5A with a range of 13,000+ kms.89
The DF-5A is a liquid-fueled missile. Unfortunately, there seems to be a common misconception that all of China's liquid-fueled ICBM force requires up to two hours for fueling operations prior to launching. This assumption is not necessarily correct. For that portion of China's DF-5A ICBM force that is emplaced in silos or other shafts that may have been modified to allow missile firing from that position, there is no reason that those systems could not be maintained in a ready-to-fire status. It is only those DF-5A systems that might be stored in a horizontal position or in a location that is not also its launch pad that would likely require fueling operations prior to launch.
China's Long March 2C missile frame (used for space launches) also is the same rocket system that is used for the DF-5A ICBM. This system uses storable liquid propellent, nitrogen tetroxide/unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine (NDMH/N2O4). This fuel is of the same fuel family as was used in the United States' heavy-lift Titan II ICBM. Since NDMH/N2O4 can be stored in an aluminum/stainless steel missile for over 20 years without suffering any significant degradation of the fuel or corrosion of the missile structure, there is no reason that China could not maintain its silo-based ICBMs on an alert status that would allow launch on warning. About the only difficulties this fuel would give the Chinese is that it has a freezing point of about 30 degrees Fahrenheit (requiring an uploaded missile to be maintained in an environment above roughly 35-40 degrees) and that the welds used in missile construction would have to be well executed as the nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer (which is extremely toxic) is difficult to contain, easily leaking through porous points such as substandard welds.90
Turning to the naval systems, it should be noted that China developed a first-generation nuclear powered Xia-Class SSBN that carried 12 JL-1 missiles. (The JL-1 is the naval version of the DF-21.) This submarine is very noisy (and thus easily detectable), its missiles only have a range of 1700 kms, and the boat is difficult to maintain. In short, this submarine (Type 092) is not considered to constitute much of a threat to the United States.
Perhaps of greater interest is the direction in which China is moving with its future strategic force development. Strategic forces currently are a problem for China. China does not yet have any space-based early warning capabilities. Its current system is limited to some ground-based phased-array radars;91 therefore, it is probable that most incoming missiles would strike their targets before the retaliatory strike could be launched.
It uses dummy missile silos, hides missiles under civilian buildings with removable roofs, places them in mines, secures them in caves and tunnels, and has considered deploying the DF-5 ICBM inside of fake bridge towers and on rail cars.92 (The Chinese believe that weak states should not be very transparent regarding its strategic capabilities; more advantage can be gained from ambiguity.)
Due to the emphasis that China has placed on concealment of its missile force, it is doubtful if any nation, to include the United States, has identified all of China's nuclear missile sites.93 For example, for many years almost all sources credited China as having only four DF-5 missiles on alert, two of which are known to be deployed in silos in Central China (where they could be destroyed by a preemptive strike). See Figure 3-8. Yet, there was much evidence pointing to the fact that since 1978 China was producing 10-12 Long March missiles per year (the LM-2C missile frame is used by both the DF-5 ICBM and the space launch program). There are published photos that show at least nine of these types of missiles on an assembly line at one time.94 Simple arithmetic would indicate that perhaps 180-216 of these missiles could have been produced between 1978 and 1996.
Many analysts claim that the space launch program consumes most of China's missile production. Yet, a July 1996 report of a Chinese launch of a satellite noted that it was the 47th launch since 1970 when China acquired satellite launch technology.95 There is also a report that China tested the DF-5 seven times prior to its entry into service.96 According to other reports, the modified DF-5 was tested for a MIRVed warhead in 1986.97 Assuming this testing required seven more test shots, this would still indicate that China might have as many as 100-150 DF-5 and DF-5A missiles. Yet, according to recent statements by U.S. officials and press reports based on leaked classified material, China is now credited with having a force of an estimated 17-20 DF-5 ICBMs,98 consisting of a mix of DF-5 and DF-5A missiles. Even considering the likelihood that some of the early missile models may have been scrapped, the question remains, "Where are the missing missiles?"
The possibility that China may have successfully duped the world as to the size of its ICBM capability has to be considered. Given China's concern over having its retaliatory missile force preempted and considering China's superior abilities to maintain secrecy, coupled with its military doctrine that places much importance on the value of deception operations, it would not be surprising to find that China may have fooled Western intelligence agencies regarding the size of its strategic nuclear forces.
For example, in a convincingly argued (but uncorroborated) paper by Yang Zheng, National University of Singapore, the claim is made that in early 1995 the Chinese media announced that the Great Wall Project for China's strategic missile force had been completed. The Chinese accounts reportedly claimed that "tens of thousands" of army engineers had been tunneling for over 10 years in a mountain range in Northern China. Based on a careful reading of the reports and through the use of topographical maps, Yang deduced that the mountain range in question is probably the famous Tai-Hang Mountain Range which lies about 400 kms Southwest of Beijing between Hebei and Shanxi provinces (see figure 3-9). The topography of this mountain range is characterized by 1,000-2,000 meter-deep gorges and steep bluffs. Using standard calculations for the production capacity of the engineer units involved, Yang determined that the Great Wall Project probably resulted in a network of tunnels up to 5000 kms long inside of the mountain range. The Project also must have included the construction of dozens of missile bases, to include those used for DF-15 launchings during recent operations against Taiwan.99
If this speculative claim were to be confirmed, it would indicate that China has or is planning to put much of its strategic missile forces deep underground in a tunnel system where they would be invulnerable to a preemptive strike, but from which its ICBMs could be easily moved from the tunnels into launch positions in the surrounding gorges. In short, the possibility cannot be dismissed that some of the unaccounted for DF-5A missile production has been secretively deployed, both in conjunction with the Great Wall Project and possibly in other similar locations.
The question is why?
Could the Chinese be converting these mines to missile sites? While speculative, it is interesting to note that Yang Zheng's paper also claimed that China had been digging tunnels in mountains throughout China since the 1960s and that other strategic missiles had been installed in mountain ranges in Central and Southern China. If his assertion is true, it could indicate that the mines that were abruptly closed in South China may have been appropriated for some defense project and perhaps even equipped as missile launch facilities.
To test the feasibility of firing DF-5A missiles at the United States from these Southern provinces, an advanced computer simulation of a DF-5A missile trajectory was conducted with launch points located in Yunnan and Hunan provinces. (See Figure 3-10.)
(Note: the depiction on the left of figure 3-11 shows one calculation with an assumed non-rotating earth; the two additional excursions assume two different pitch angles — the missile's angle in relationship to the surface of the earth which is established at the end of the boost phase to establish the flight trajectory of the missile — plus adding the effects that occur as the earth rotates under the missile as it travels through space. (In essence, a missile's net effective range increases when fired west and shortens when fired east.) The depiction on the right side of Figure 3-11 shows the area that cannot be struck after calculating a series of possible flight profiles using different pitch angles to determine the optimum trajectory of each target area. That is, the right depiction is the integrated answer of many trial trajectories to determine best-case firing solutions. Missiles fired from the northern part of China would move this exclusion area further to the south.)
As China looks to the future, it is moving to increase its strategic missile-delivery capabilities. By 2010, China reportedly plans to replace many of its shorter-range ballistic missiles with long-range systems so that 75 or 80 percent of its ballistic missile force will consist of missiles capable of targeting the United States and all of Russia.101
For the current force of DF-5A missiles, China is moving to arm these ICBMs with MIRVed warheads. Since the DF-5A apparently has four veneer engines on its second stage (which reportedly fire for 190 seconds after the main missile engine cuts off), the DF-5A should be able to point its warhead bus over a fairly large arc, which would allow it to aim its payload at an array of attack points that are widely dispersed in the target area.102 Unfortunately, the exact status of this program is uncertain. One source calculated that based on throwweight and size of warhead shroud on the DF-5A it is being equipped with a 6-RV warhead with each RV weighing 600 kgs (the size of the single warhead on the DF-21).103 There is also a Beijing press dispatch that talks about a 9 RV warhead for new missiles. As for the status of MIRVing, one source claims that at least four DF-5As have already been MIRVed.104
This claim stands in contrast to a more common claim that no DF-5s have yet been fitted with MIRVed warheads, but that MIRVing will occur within the next few years. Between 2000 and 2010, China will add a new generation of strategic missile systems to its inventory. The first of these systems is the DF-31,105 believed to have flown its fourth flight test on December 28, 1996. This system is a solid-fueled, three-stage mobile missile with a range of 8000 km carrying a 700 kg, one-megaton warhead.106 This missile system is similar in form to the Russian SS-25 (one of which may have been transferred to China — discussed in Chapter 2). According to a Chinese missile expert, one of the objectives of the just completed series of Chinese nuclear tests was to miniaturize China's nuclear warheads, dropping their weight from 2200 kgs to 700 kgs in order to accommodate the next generation of solid-fueled missile systems.107 The DF-31 is expected to be ready for deployment around 1998. Once this IRBM is deployed, China will have the capability to use it to strike targets in the northwest corner of the United States from launch sites in Manchuria (see Figure 3-12 and 3-13).
This system will be deployed on 4-6 new Type 094 nuclear submarines (see Figure 3-14) that are expected to begin production between 2003-2005.108 Each of the Type 094 SSBNs will mount 16 JL-2 ballistic missiles (DF-31s). These new submarines will incorporate extensive amounts of Western and Russian technology. Consequently, they are expected to be dramatically more capable than was the previous generation of Chinese SSBNs (Type 092). When equipped with the JL-2 8000 km-range missiles, the Chinese SSBNs would only have to patrol just to the northeast of the Kuril Islands to hold about three-fourths of the United States at risk.
As a follow on to the DF-31/JL-2 missile system, China is developing the 12,000 km DF-41 mobile ICBM which is expected to be equipped with a MIRVed warhead. For example, one source (a news dispatch from Beijing) claims that new solid-fueled missiles will be equipped with nine individual warheads (9 RVs).109 However, as the DF-41 will have a throwweight of only 2000 kgs, it does not seem likely that China would be able to mount more than about 3-6 RVs on this ICBM (U.S. Minuteman III has 3 RVs and a throwweight of 1100 kgs at 12,900 kms; the MX carries 10 RVs and has a throwweight of 3950 kgs at 11,000 kms). So, if the Beijing dispatch contains any truth, it is likely that either the MIRV for the DF-5A contains 9 RVs or there is another new liquid-fueled system under development.
In pursuit of its objectives to improve its strategic nuclear missile force, China has been trying to acquire the technology for the SS-18 ICBM (a heavy-lift missile that can carry 10-14 RVs with a throwweight of 8800 kgs — 2.2 times more throwweight than the MX Peacekeeper's and 2.75 times more than China's DF-5A ICBM). It has tried to steal the plans for the SS-18's engine from the Ukraine, and it has tried to buy that technology from both Ukraine and Russia.110 What has puzzled some Western observers is the fact that China has also expressed interest in buying SS-18 boosters to use in its space program.111
Some seem to believe that the SS-18's engines would be incompatible with the sensitive electronics of many satellite payloads.112 Unfortunately for this argument, the SS-18's high G-force launch and payload vibration problem can both be adjusted or compensated for in ways that would make this missile capable of launching commercial payloads. Thus, China can claim a legitimate use for SS-18 boosters. Nonetheless, access to the SS-18 could provide China with technological information which could be of significant value in improving China's ICBM capabilities.
In addition to the challenge of improving and expanding their inventory of strategic missiles, the Chinese are very aware of the fact that they must also reduce the radar cross section of their warheads, harden them against electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects, and improve their capabilities for penetrating missile defenses.113 The Chinese clearly assume that additional missile defenses will be developed (in addition to Russia's nuclear-tipped defensive missiles around Moscow). Therefore, to facilitate the accomplishment of their national objectives, the Chinese are working to create a larger and more capable nuclear deterrent force, one that is more survivable and is sufficiently lethal to affirm China as an independent world power. In essence, China seeks to provide itself with an effective means of protection against attempts by other great powers and regional hegemonists to dictate rules of behavior to China in the international arena.114
Sub-Strategic Ballistic Missile Systems.
As noted in the discussion of Chinese doctrinal development, China's assessment of the 1991 Gulf War provided them with a new insights into the potential value of battlefield and theater missile systems. Chinese strategists have concluded that these systems, when equipped with conventional warheads, provide a significant coercive capability when used to strike high-value targets. Reportedly, China has been working to develop a variety of warheads for these systems. In addition to nuclear, warheads that have been specifically cited in news reports include high-explosive, dual-purpose cluster munitions, scatterable mines, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), and deep-penetration warheads for underground fortifications.115 Although China claims that it does not have CW or BW capabilities, informed sources routinely list China as having those capabilities. If China has BW and CW in its arsenal, it is also likely that China has CW and BW warheads for its sub-strategic missile systems. Its sub-strategic ballistic missile systems include the:
DF-21/21A (CSS-5). This missile was originally developed as the two-stage JL-1. It was designed for deployment aboard China's SSBN. However, as the missile only had a range of 1700 kms, it was decided to also develop it as a land-based missile, which was designed as the DF-21 (first flight May 1985). Its range was later improved to 1800 kms (DF-21A) carrying a 600 kg warhead with a nuclear capability believed to be 200-300 kt. It is a solid-fueled system and launched from a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle. It is believed that over 100 DF-21/JL-1 missiles have been built.116 In addition, some DF-21s have been reconfigured with conventional warheads for use along China's southern and northwestern borders. From those firing locations, the DF-21 can hit targets throughout Northern India, the Republics of Central Asia, and most of Vietnam and Southeast Asia."117 Work is believed to be ongoing to provide this missile with a sophisticated terminal guidance system.
DF-15 (M-9). The DF-15 is a sophisticated solid-fueled, single-stage mobile missile, similar in appearance to the U.S. Pershing I-A system, with a reaction-launch time of about 30 minutes. The 9.1 meter DF-15 is expected to be equipped with a variety of warhead types and to become the mainstay of China's sub-strategic missile force. The vertically-launched missile has a range of 200-600 kms, carrying a payload of 500 kgs, with a CEP of about 280 meters. The missile uses a strapdown inertial guidance system on the warhead section which guides the trajectory using small thrusters. The missile body is designed to trail behind the separated warhead and provide camouflage for the warhead (which is only one-tenth of the size of the missile body). The Chinese missile expert Hau Di does not believe the Patriot, PAC-2 or PAC-3, can hit the warhead of the DF-15.118 It is anticipated that in the future the DF-15 will be equipped with a global positioning system that is coordinated with a new-type ring-laser gyroscopic inertial-guidance system, coupled to a faster on-board computer system so as to increase the accuracy of the missile's end-segment guidance system to achieve a CEP of 30-45 meters. As the missile has a terminal velocity of over Mach 6, it is probable that this system is being considered for deep-penetration strike requirements (against underground fortifications).119 Of the 6-7 missiles fired off the coast of Taiwan in the July 1995 and the 4 others fired in the March 1996 incident, all were DF-15s. There is an unconfirmed report that Israel may have helped China develop the DF-15; ironically the missile may also have been exported to Syria (unconfirmed).120
DF-11 (M-11/CSS-7). The DF-11 is the Chinese replacement for their Scud-series of missiles. It was originally shown at the 1987 Beijing air show as a two-stage missile with 1000 kms range carrying a 500 payload. Due to MTCR considerations, China has exported the system as a single-stage, solid-fueled missile with a range of 120-295 kms carrying a 500 kg (or perhaps 800 kg) warhead.121 This missile has been exported as the M-11 to Pakistan.122
Security of the Nuclear Force. China's 100 or so known ballistic missiles currently fielded are under the control of the PLA's 2d Artillery Corps (believed to be headquartered in the vicinity of Beijing). This corps, an organization that is the Chinese equivalent of the Soviet Union's Strategic Missile Forces, was organized as a strategic missile unit in July 1966. It now consists of 90,000 troops, believed to be organized into a headquarters, an early warning division, a communication regiment, a security regiment, a technical support regiment, and six ballistic missile divisions (each missile division probably averages around 10,000 troops — with some strength fluctuation based on missile types). The 2d Artillery Corps is under the operational control of the general staff, but de facto is often directly controlled by the Central Military Commission.123 Its six divisions are independently deployed in the main military regions as follows:
Shenyang Military Region, 2 divisions,
Beijing Military Region, 1 division,
Lanzhou Military Region, 2 divisions,
Chengdu Military Region, 1 division.124
As for China's Xia-class (Type 092) SSBN submarines, it is assigned to the 9th Submarine Fleet under the direct jurisdiction of Headquarters, People's Liberation Navy (PLN). In wartime, SSBN assets would come under the direct control of the Central Military Commission.125 Its SSBN is deployed with the Northern Fleet.126
It is not believed that this situation has changed during the intervening years. Although China does not have PAL devices, it does follow a set of procedures that provide Chinese leaders with a lot of confidence that an unauthorized launch would be unlikely (i.e., two man rule, separate storage of warheads, etc.). However, as was the case with the Soviet Union, it is the communist party that maintains control in China. The possibility must be considered that a weakening of the CCP could also mean a weakening of the command and control system that secures China's nuclear forces.
Future Strategic Direction Nuclear Weapons.
China is publicly credited with a nuclear arsenal of 450 weapons composed of 300 strategic warheads and 150 tactical nuclear weapons. These figures are strictly educated guesses. U.S. officials acknowledge that China's nuclear arsenal could be two or three times larger than estimated.128 It is believed that China could have produced as much as 15 tons of plutonium and up to 60 tons of uranium-235 over the years that they have been pursuing nuclear weapons.129 The amount of fissile material that China has produced is sufficient to support a higher number of warheads than the 450 that it is credited with having built.
During the fall of 1995, an anonymous source sent a purportedly secret Chinese military document to a Hong Kong magazine, Dong Xiang (The Trend). The document showed a Chinese inventory of 2350 nuclear weapons, comprised of 1800 strategic warheads and 550 tactical nuclear weapons.130 Although the numbers cited by the Hong Kong publication have not been corroborated by other sources and could well be a hoax, the claim has caused Western sources to begin to reexamine China's nuclear capability.131 In short, regardless of China's current nuclear weapons count, it is clear that China has the capability of expanding its nuclear force to support the requirements of its limited deterrence doctrine. China could probably increase its inventory up to an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 nuclear weapons by 2010 if it so chooses (China's actual nuclear weapon objectives are thought to be less than the numbers cited).
Space. "Chinese strategists are seriously concerned about the need to incorporate space satellites and weapon systems into China's nuclear and conventional operational doctrines."132 Space is considered to be one of China's strategic frontiers. Strategists are writing about the need to develop anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities (both space-based and air-launched) to destroy enemy capabilities to direct military operations. In addition, China's military planners see a need to be able to strike space-based ballistic missile defense systems to increase the survivability of China's strategic nuclear forces.133 These strategists are already thinking of what capabilities China will need. (Note: the strategists' vision of ASAT and space-based missile defense capabilities create tensions with China's official position on arms control which advocates banning ASATs and preventing weaponization of space. There seems to be a growing belief among Chinese strategists that China's official position is outdated.)134
"One plan envisions the creation of a space warfare headquarters" complete with a military-industrial infrastructure to support that capability.135 Included under this command would be reconnaissance satellites, space stations and bases, satellites and weapon systems for fighting, early warning assets, etc. China's space capability would be designed to break the superpowers' monopoly on space, to protect China's space-based assets, and to intercept a portion of enemy ICBMs and thus reduce the destructiveness of an enemy attack.136 Although China is many years from being able to achieve this type of space-based capability, it does have a space program that includes astronauts-in-training and plans of putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and conducting an extensive manned space-research program.137 By 1999 China hopes to conduct its first manned space launch.
Ballistic Missile Defense.
Chinese strategists also see a need to establish defenses against ballistic missile attack.138 In the immediate future, these defenses will take the form of ground-based assets. Toward this end, China has been gradually moving to develop a rudimentary missile defense capability. In 1992, it apparently acquired technology for the U.S. Patriot system from Israel, 139 while in 1993 it purchased 100 SA-10B missiles (the Russian equivalent to Patriot) and related equipment from Russia. Reportedly, China intends to obtain a license to produce this system.140 While China has far to go before it will have an effective missile defense system, it seems likely that China will develop such a system in the future.
Missile Defense Penetration Aids. Currently, only some of China's missiles have enhanced capabilities to penetrate missile defense systems. In the mid-1980s, in response to the U.S. strategic defense initiative, Chinese strategists examined the feasibility of using spinning or hardening of warheads to defeat beam weapon systems. They also examined systems capable of baffling enemy ballistic missile defense detection and tracking sensors.141 According to Russian sources, China has not yet cracked the problem of penetrating missile defense systems, but sees it as a priority for this century.142 According to Jane's, China is focusing its missile defense penetration efforts in the areas of stealth technology, EMP hardening, and other penetrability aids.143 It is expected that China's next generation of strategic missile systems — the DF-31, the DF-41, and possibly an updated DF-5 system — will incorporate missile defense penetration aids.
New ICBMs. China is very difficult for intelligence agencies to penetrate; therefore, the U.S. must anticipate that some surprises could come out of China. Although it is widely expected that the DF-41 will replace the DF-5A ICBM when it is deployed around 2010, there is reason to be somewhat suspicious of that projection. First, the DF-41 is a 12,000 km missile capable of carrying about 2000 kgs (less than two-thirds of the throwweight at 1000+ kms less range than the DF-5A).144 While the solid-fueled DF-41 will be mobile, it seems doubtful that China would completely replace its current ICBM force with one with less range and carrying capacity. At the same time, China is clearly working to obtain SS-18 booster technology.
The preceding assessment begs the question. Does China plan to upgrade the DF-5A system, or could it be planning to develop a new class of ICBMs based on SS-18 technology? If reports of the Great Wall Project should prove to be true, it would seem to be in China's best interest to place heavy-lift ICBMs in that protected environment. Although speculative, it must also be considered that the new 9 RV future warhead described by the earlier-cited Beijing dispatch as being for a solid-fueled missile system may, in fact, be intended for a new liquid-fueled ICBM of the SS-18 class.
If China should field an SS-18 class missile with 9 RVs plus extensive missile defense penetration aids, it would provide China with an impressive capacity to inflect severe damage on the United States with a relatively limited number of missiles. An example of the type of dispersion pattern that could be expected from a 9-RV warhead launched against the United States from a firing point in China is shown in Figure 3-16. The two illustrative MIRV footprint patterns shown reflect best- and worst-case delivery requirements. Regardless of the exact status of China's current MIRV program, it is clear that China's near-term ICBM force will be equipped with warheads likely to contain up to 6 (and perhaps 9) independently targeted re-entry vehicles. With this one action, China will increase its capabilities of attacking the United States by 6-9 fold. Thus, if China's current intercontinental capability is a 20-missile strike (which, as discussed, may be a low figure), that number could deliver 120-180 warheads if the entire DF-5 missile force were to be MIRVed by the year 2000. As China moves toward 2010, its capability to target the United States will increase substantially. Only time will reveal China's full intentions on this issue.
China's Technology Transfer Potential
During the late 1980s, China was able to sell about $3 billion of arms a year to overseas customers. Much of its success was due to the demand of the Iran-Iraq war for munitions and other low-technology armaments. The termination of the Iran-Iraq War, the end of the Cold War, and the high-technology weapons demonstration of Operation Desert Storm all acted together to lower the demand for China's low-technology weaponry. In 1995, China only gained orders for about $200 million worth of armaments,145 a level that is only one-fifteenth of its 1988 level. This drop in sales has been difficult for China's defense industrial complex. China, like other weapon producers, needs to sell arms as a way of generating higher economies of scale, thus helping to subsidize some costs associated with running an indigenous defense industry. This has been even more important for the Chinese military in that much of its modernization plans are dependent on funding from profits generated from China's defense industrial sector (which also produces and sells many commercial goods and services).
Unfortunately for those concerned with proliferation, China's export control office is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Defense,146 which has a vested interest in maximizing arms sales. Given the lack of demand for low-technology armaments, the Chinese only have a few weapon systems that are in demand, with the biggest demand being for missile systems. At the same time, a majority of Chinese officials do not have any philosophical problems with selling missile technology. The Western argument that missiles can be used to deliver WMD weapon systems is countered by the Chinese argument that aircraft can also be used to deliver those weapons of mass destruction, but the West still sells a lot of aircraft to countries that are potential adversaries of China.147 Of course, to the Chinese, with their limited early warning capabilities and inadequate air defense system, advanced aircraft potentially are as dangerous to them as ballistic missiles are to the developed world.
The Chinese also point out that the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is not an international treaty, nor is China a member-state of the MTCR. However, China did pledge to abide by MTCR guidelines on February 23, 1992, and later signed an agreement with the United States on October 4, 1994, in which it agreed not to export missiles having a range of more than 300 km while carrying a payload of more than 500 kgs. In return, the United States lifted the economic sanctions that it had imposed on China for violating MTCR guidelines.148 Unfortunately, most Chinese officials are unhappy with the situation and view it as an imposed agreement. (Chinese officials undoubtedly find the U.S.-China agreement too similar for comfort to the agreements that were imposed on China by Western powers during the last century.) In short, China does not feel any real moral obligation to abide by any regime that it did not help create. Consequently, official efforts to ensure compliance with the MTCR are likely to be lukewarm at best.
The Role of Corruption. As was the case in Russia, China's brand of communism is also rife with corruption. As one Westerner who works in China noted, the corruption goes from top to bottom; there is no escape from it. Corruption is almost as deeply rooted in China's arms trade as it is in Russia's. The difference between the two systems was aptly put by one U.S. defense industrialist who noted, "We have a saying in the international defense industry: Russia has a lot of rules, but no control; China has a lot of control, but no rules." Russia now has a nominal rule of law, but poor enforcement conditions. China does not have a rule of law. The law is the CCP, which also provides the control organ. In China, this situation has given rise to a new class of entrepreneurs, the so-called "Red Princes."
The Red Princes are the sons and daughters of high-ranking party officials. They often sit on the boards of key industries, including the defense industries. In return for substantial commissions (i.e., perhaps 10 percent of the sale value), these elite entrepreneurs will peddle their influence to cut through bureaucratic red tape, to include arranging for products to be allowed through customs.149 (In a country ruled by the party, it would require a very brave customs official to question an export order sponsored by a person whose parent was a powerful member of the CCP's Central Committee or the Central Military Commission.) Unfortunately, the sharp drop in military arms sales since 1988 has undoubtedly put more pressure on the system to allow the export of sensitive items. (No sales would mean no commissions for the leading families.)
Similarly, most lesser officials and many senior military officers are involved in corrupt activities that include bribery, kickbacks, and illicit sale of goods and services. This situation is complicated by the loss of central control that has gradually developed since the Chinese liberalized their economic system under Deng. As the provinces have gained more autonomy, they have also become less answerable to the center. Consequently, Beijing has less control over economic activity and exports than it had prior to liberalization.
Complicating the issue are the Six Great Triads that have existed in China for centuries. Five of these Triads had been headquartered in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but apparently are now moving to Shanghai, setting up operations in the same city where the headquarters of the sixth group, the Great Circle Triad, is located. The Triads have over 100,000 members, operate very secretively, have existed for centuries, are deeply rooted in Chinese society, and are represented in every Chinese ethnic community. In addition to the usual list of criminal activities, they are engaged in arms trafficking. While the amount of influence these groups have had on past Chinese proliferation activities is unknown, there is fear that China may also be in the process of developing a cooperative arrangement among the police-government-organized crime groups such as currently plagues Russia.150
The combination of these three elements, listed above, do not bode well for controlling China's future arms sales. There are too many factions in China that stand to benefit from the sale of arms. Worse, the only Chinese armaments for which there is likely to be a demand in the near future are missiles, weapons of mass destruction, future missile defense penetration aids, and some small arms and similar equipment. Consequently, the United States should anticipate a continuing problem with China in regard to the sale of sensitive technologies to developing countries.
Proliferation: Weighing China's Apparent Contributions
It is often difficult to determine if China's international transfers of sensitive military technologies are a result of an officially agreed-upon policy, an uncoordinated military decision, or an unsanctioned transfer coordinated by some Red Prince or party official acting outside of official channels. At the same time, the Chinese Triads also interject an organized criminal element that is difficult to predict. Regardless of reason or origin, China has provided a number of developing countries (particularly Pakistan, Iran, and Syria) with the technology and assistance that will help them in their efforts to develop missile-delivered WMD capabilities. Some examples, based on open source reports, illustrates this issue.
Pakistan. China has been a primary supplier of technology, equipment components, and technical advisors for Pakistan's nuclear and missile programs. For example, around 1982 China provided Pakistan with a 1966 design of a tested 25 kt nuclear weapon and enough fissile material for one or two nuclear devices.151 (The nuclear weapon design is believed to have been leaked to Iraq.)152 It also reportedly agreed to provide tritium gas (used for boosting fissile weapons) in the late 1980s and to help construct a nuclear power station in spite of a de facto international embargo on nuclear assistance.153 In the mid-1990s, China transferred to Pakistan 5,000 ring magnets used in gas centrifuge systems for uranium enrichment and, reportedly, in August-September 1996 sold Pakistan some special vacuum furnaces (useful for melting fissile material in order to shape it for nuclear weapon cores as well as working titanium for missile nose cones). Other high technology diagnostic equipment was also included in this transfer.154 In like manner, it is also believed that China has provided Pakistan with uranium-238 for enrichment and that Chinese scientists may technically check Pakistani nuclear weapon designs (i.e., a quality control check).155
As for missile systems, China helped Pakistan build its Hatf I and Hatf II missiles, transferred M-11 ballistic missiles to Pakistan, sold it bulk quantities of solid-fuel missile propellants, and provided it with M-11 missile components.156 While not all of these actions violate the MTCR guidelines, China's actions contribute to the development of Pakistan's missile technology base.
Iran. Iran made a decision in 1985 to pursue the development of nuclear weapons.157 China has provided Iran with some assistance in this endeavor (since Iran is a member state of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, much of this assistance is allowable). The alleged assistance includes:
- Trained Iranian nuclear technicians in China;
- Supplied a miniature subcritical nuclear facility;
- Provided Iran with tributylphosphate (useful in plutonium extraction);
- Transferred a calutron and a copper-vapor laser that could be used for uranium enrichment research;
- Contracted to sell 25-30 MW research reactor;
- Contracted to sell 300 MW reactor; and
- Has begun construction of a safeguarded uranium hexafloride plant (contributes to nuclear fuel-cycle development).158
As for assistance in missile development, there are reports that China provided Iran with:
- Help in building a missile plant at Semnan in 1989;
- Assistance in building the Semnan launch and missile test range in 1990;
- 50 short-range missiles in 1990;
- Technical assistance in two 1991 missile tests at Semnan; the two missiles tested had ranges of 700 kms and 1000 kms respectively;
- Help in building a Silkworm and M9 plant near Isfahan;
- Silkworm anti-ship cruise missiles in 1992;
- 20 CSS-8 ballistic missiles in 1994 (150 km range missile carrying a 190 kg warhead — not a violation of the MTCR);
- Hundreds of missile guidance systems and computerized machine tools, 1994-95; and
- A supply of rocket propellant ingredients, 1995.159
In addition, it should be noted that China apparently has been helping Iran develop chemical weapons. Between 1993 and 1996, there have been several reports that China was providing precursor agents to Iran, probably for the development of nerve and mustard agents, along with technical assistance on chemical weapon development.160 Worse, China is also suspected by U.S. intelligence sources of selling Iran a complete chemical weapons factory.161
Syria. In the nuclear area, the relationship between Syria and China is still at an embryonic stage. Syria is shopping for Chinese nuclear reactors, and China has said that it will train Syrian nuclear technicians. (As long as safeguards are agreed to, this is not an NPT violation.) However, in the missile arena, China is believed to have provided Syria with a significant amount of assistance. Reports include:
- M9 missiles reportedly were tracked to Syria, June 1991. There was a subsequent report that a foreign intelligence source sighted 24 M9 missile launchers in Syria on August 22, 1991(unconfirmed — there is considerable debate on this point. Others claim China cancelled the M9 sale);
- A Chinese team may have helped Syria build a missile manufacturing plant for missile production in 1992 (unconfirmed);
- Chinese specialists are said to be working in Syrian factories in Hama and Aleppo to produce missile guidance systems (1992); and
- China sold Syria the ingredients for missile fuel.162
In addition to the assistance noted above, China has sold DF-3 (CSS-2) missiles to Saudi Arabia, helped Algeria begin a secret nuclear program, and assisted Iraq in obtaining nuclear components and missile fuel ingredients.163 In essence, China has demonstrated that it is not averse to selling sensitive technologies in its pursuit of arms sales or in support of its national objectives.
The future of East Asia is marked by a high degree of uncertainty. Within this environment, it would appear that the odds are very high that East Asia will move toward a structure dominated by five powers: China, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States. While the nonproliferation battle must and will be fought, it would seem that there is a high probability that in the end each of the five powers cited will have ballistic missile capabilities, weapons of mass destruction, and sophisticated conventional systems. In short, the United States should work for success, but also plan for the possibility that it will lose the nonproliferation battle in East Asia. (Unfortunately, if the nonproliferation battle is lost, it is likely that other regions may also follow the example of East Asia.)
As the power structure reshapes in East Asia, Korea is likely to stake-out a more independent role in regional affairs than it has it the past, but with a tendency to align with China on contentious regional issues, especially on issues involving Japan. For the foreseeable future, Russia is likely to try to remain friendly with China and Korea in an attempt to reduce its vulnerabilities in East Asia, while Japan, on the other hand, probably will try to remain aligned with the United States, which could put the U.S. at odds with the other three major players in the region.
As for the United States, it will continue to have difficulties dealing with China. Although China is pragmatic and has an interest in avoiding confrontation with the United States, it will not react well to public pressure, which will likely result in a series of confrontational situations between the two states. This tendency toward confrontational politics could well increase. As China grows in power, it will also demand larger regional and global roles which may often conflict with U.S. national interests. This conflict is likely to be further fueled by the unfortunate likelihood that China's internal political weaknesses, corruption, incentives for arms sales, and lack of salable non-sensitive military technologies will all continue to result in the transfer of missile and WMD technologies to states that stand in opposition to U.S. goals and objectives. This situation will ensure that U.S.- PRC relations are often strained.
As the 21st century unfolds, China's strategic deterrent posture will improve significantly. Unfortunately, China does not view nuclear weapons as being unusable. It does, however, hope to be able to create nuclear firebreaks in its military planning so that local battles can be contained without escalating them to the strategic level. This means that China would likely use its tactical capabilities in local wars, to include WMD if it should prove necessary, and then threaten the use of strategic forces if the conflict begins to escalate. Thus, if the United States should find itself in a future military confrontation with China, it should not assume that China will back down.
The Chinese see themselves as a tough race that can withstand more punishment than can the West. However, in an attempt to control the escalation of a confrontation, China envisions the development of some missile defense capabilities so as to be able to limit damage from a small nuclear strike, thus forcing any confrontation to a point that would require an overwhelming nuclear exchange and thus entail a high level of risk, which, presumably, would constitute an unacceptable level of risk for the other nuclear powers. In this respect, it should be remembered that the Chinese will try to avoid becoming engaged in a conflict that they do not believe is winnable, but if conflict is unavoidable, they are likely to prove implacable.
In addition, the possibility of political instability in China, coupled with a lack of PAL devices on China's nuclear systems, introduces the possibility of a future accidental or unauthorized limited nuclear strike against the United States. As was shown in the range-fan charts, China has the capability of striking the entire country. It is also expected that if a U.S.- PRC conflict occurred around 2010, China will be able to attack the United States with a strike consisting of several hundred or so nuclear warheads. Much of China's strategic forces may well be physically protected from preemptive attack; thus, China should be expected to maintain a secure second-strike capability. Moreover, its future missile systems will undoubtedly employ penetration aids (penaids) that may allow them to evade first-generation missile defense systems. China's role in the proliferation of sensitive technologies indicate that the United States should also expect penaid technology to proliferate along with missile and WMD technologies.
In short, the situation in East Asia points toward a future in which missile and WMD capabilities will become increasingly common and of growing importance for the security of the region. The issues that will have to be addressed will include the changes brought about by improved missile quality as well as the increased quantity of available systems. In addition, early warning requirements, missile defenses, and space warfare issues will all likely become key issues of concern as states increasingly turn to the strategic frontiers of space in an effort to deal with the realities of the revolution in military affairs.
1 The summary of Korean reunification thinking is based on dozens of private background discussions among Drs. Charles Perry and Jacquelyn Davis, Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Inc., and various high-level South Korean officials in the Blue House (the South Korean equivalent to the U.S. White House), Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Members of the National Assembly, June 1996.
3; Heritage Foundation,"Building A More Secure Asia Through Missile Defense," Asian Studies Center Backgrounder, October 24, 1995, p. 5, (Footnote 8); Akira Kato, "Classified Russian Document on DPRK Nuclear Weapons," Tokyo Shukan Bunshun, trans. JPRS-TND-002-L, January 27, 1994; and "Japan: Remarks Not Confirmed," Yonhap, reported in FBIS-EAS-94-145, July 28, 1994. 3 Office of the Secretary of Defense, Proliferation: Threat and Response, op. cit., p. 7; Barbara Starr, "CIA Expects Nodong Deployment Next Year," Jane's Defense Weekly, November 11, 1995, p. 16; "DPRK Transferring Weapon Technology to Mideast," Seoul KBS-1 Radio Network, trans. FBIS-EAS-94-110, June 8, 1994; William Matthews, "Luck: Violent Collapse of North Korea Could Trigger War With South," Army Times, April 15, 1996, p. 28; and "Figures For North, South Military Provided," The Korea Herald, in FBIS-EAS-95-194, October 6, 1995, p. 68.
4 For example, see Richard Latter, "Ballistic Missile Proliferation In the Developing World," Jane's Defense 96: The World In Conflict, 1996, p. 76; and Greg Gerardi and Joseph Bermudez, Jr., "An Analysis of North Korean Ballistic Missile Testing," Jane's Intelligence Review, Vol. 7, No. 4, January 27, 1995, p. 189.
10 John Cunningham, "Third World Missile Proliferation Poses New Threats," The Journal of Social, Political, & Economic Studies, Summer 1994; and Son Tae-kyu, "North To Deploy Nodong Missiles By End of 1996," Hanguk Ilbo, translated in FBIS-EAS-95-195, October 10, 1995, p. 61.
13 Pak Chae-pom, "U.S. Reportedly Within New North Missile Range," Seoul Sinmun, trans. FBIS-EAS-95-175, September 11, 1995, p. 49; and "Missile Threat: North Korea," Centre for Defence and International Security Studies, Internet, http://www.cdiss.org/country3.htm, 1996.
15 The involvement of foreign missile technicians and related assistance make it difficult to predict system development speed since there is no way of judging the technical proficiency level of foreign personnel. As a result, reported intelligence estimates seem based on estimations of an indigenous development effort, with the caveat that development time could be shortened due to foreign assistance.
21 For example, see John Deutch, Statement for the Record to U.S. Congress, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, The Threat of Nuclear Diversion, March 20, 1996, p. Appendix 2.
22 A Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) summary of articles reflect a clear pattern of technology acquisition that would indicate preparation for development of nuclear weapons. See "South Korea: Acquiring Dual-Use Advanced Weapons Technology," FBIS: Foreign Media Note — FB PN 94-27-So. Korea, February 26, 1994.
28 An example of the potential for future confrontation may be foreshadowed in the recent account of a South Korean-Japanese dispute over some islands in the Sea of Japan. See Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, "S. Korea Challenges Japan Over Islands," The Washington Post, February 13, 1996, p. A15.
29 For examples of the smoldering debate, see Nicholas D. Kristof, "Finally, Japan May Have A Future In the Military," The New York Times, April 21, 1996, p. IV-5; Nicholas D. Kristof, "Japanese Look At the Possibility Of A Military Role In Asia," The New York Times, May 28, 1996, p. 8; and "USA and Allies Move Towards New Pacific," Jane's Defense Weekly, June 12, 1996, p. 29.
41 RADM Eric McVadon (Ret.), former U.S. Defense Attaché to Beijing, presentation at a workshop on Post-Cold War Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Challenge from China?, sponsored by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, February 29, 1996.
44 Richard Grant, Royal Institute for International Affairs, presentation at a workshop on Post-Cold War Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Challenge from China?, sponsored by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, February 29, 1996.
48 Ronald Morse, University of Maryland, presentation at a workshop on Post-Cold War Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Challenge from China?, sponsored by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, February 29, 1996.
54 Note: Recent geological reports question the potential size of the oil deposits in the South China Sea. It may be that the smaller projections of wealth has allowed China to take a more relaxed position on this issue.
57 Patrick Tyler, "China's Schedule For Taiwan," International Harold Tribune, January 31, 1996, p. 4; in private discussions with Chinese experts, 2010 is the commonly cited target date for reunification.
58 Cited in Alistair Iain Johnston, "China's New Old Thinking: The Concept of Limited Deterrence," International Security, Winter 1995/96, p. 28. This article is recommended reading for those interested in Chinese nuclear doctrine. It is well documented and based on primary Chinese sources.
63 For one example, see Ross H. Munro, "Eavesdropping On the Chinese Military: Where It Expects War — Where It Doesn't," Orbis, Summer 1994, pp. 355-72. A primary theme in this work is China's need to avoid the coming war with the United States for as long as possible. This ranking of the U.S. as China's primary threat was also identified by Russian sources, see Sergey Repko, ""Russia/China: China's Military Concept, Relations With Russia Viewed," Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, translated in FBIS-UMA-96-177-S, September 11, 1996, p. 31.
64 Steven Erlanger, "Chinese Cold War Forecast: Costly, Dangerous," The New York Times, February 25, 1996, p. IV-5; "Maturing Chinese Capabilities May Presage Larger World Role," National Defense, January 1996, pp. 24-25; and Eric A. McVadon, private communication based on conversations with Chinese officials, August 1996.
67 Repko, ""Russia/China: China's Military Concept, Relations With Russia Viewed," op. cit., p. 31; and "China: and Li Peng, Yeltsin Vow to Promote Strategic Partnership," Xinhua, transcribed in FBIS-CHI-96-251, December 27, 1996.
68 U.S. House of Representative, Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Dr. Jonathan Pollack, "Q&A Response," Hearing on Security In Northeast Asia: From Okinawa to the DMZ.
70 Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, presentation at a workshop on Post-Cold War Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Challenge from China?, sponsored by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, February 29, 1996.
74 For an example of U.S. dual-use exports to China, see Gerard White, Prepared Statement before the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Committee on Foreign Relations, October 12, 1995. For some insightful reading on China's methods of gaining dual-use technology, see Joseph Kahn, "McDonnell Douglas's High Hopes For China Never Really Soared," The Wall Street Journal, May 22, 1996, pp. A1, A12; and Stephen J. Hedges and Susan V. Lawrence, "Manufacturing Trouble in China: Were U.S. Machine Tools Illegally Diverted?," U.S. News and World Reports, February 5, 1996, p. 41.
75 Bates Gill, "Russia, Israel Help Force Modernization," Jane's Defense Weekly, January 31, 1996, pp. 54, 56, & 59; Nick Cook, "Lifting the Veil On China's Fighters," Jane's Defense Weekly, January 31, 1996, p. 52; and Bill Gertz, "Israelis Face Query On Sales To China," The Washington Times, June 19, 1996, p. 4.
90 The information on rocket fuel characteristics is based on a conversation with Joe Connaughton, Consultant on Liquid Rocket Fuels, Huntsville, AL, October 11, 1996. Joe Connaughton also noted news account of the difficulty that the USAF encountered a few years ago with a Titan II when one of its mechanics dropped a wrench in a silo causing the missile to begin leaking toxic fumes.
94 In a private conversation with Duncan Lennox, Editor, Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems, July 29, 1996, he noted that he has missile-factory photos in his files that show many Long March systems under construction, many more than have been accounted for in estimates of Chinese capabilities. The 10-12 missiles per year figure is commonly accepted and has been used by such organizations as the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Jane's, and Aviation and Space Weekly. For example, see "Launchers, Upper Stages, and Propulsion: China, People's Republic," Jane's Space Directory, 1993-94, p. 221.
98 "Maturing Chinese Capabilities May Presage Larger World Role," National Defense, January 1996, p. 25; and Bill Gertz, "China's Arsenal Gets A Russian Boost," The Washington Times, May 20, 1996, p.A1.
99 "Great Wall of Fire," Far Eastern Economic Review, December 21, 1995, p.14; and Yang Zheng, op. cit. Yang used news accounts to determine that a company of 100 army engineers can dig about 100 meters of tunnel per month when constructing railroad tunnels (no advanced drilling machinery). The Great Wall Project would have involved hundreds of companies for over a period of 10 years. China acknowledged the loss of nearly 100 lives during its construction.
102 Ibid. The author notes that China has been advertising that it can deliver four satellites on a single launch. That capability is the same technology used to aim each of the RVs on MIRVed warheads. The pacing factor on MIRVed warheads is believed to be the process of downsizing the nuclear components.
106 International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1995/96, pp. 169-70; and Chang Yi-cheng, "China: Article on China's High, New Military Armament," Sing Tai Jih Pao, translated in FBIS-CHI-97-092, April 2, 1997.
120 "Chinese Missile Sales: A Chronology," Middle East Defense News, Proliferation, Vol. 6, No. 15 & 16, May 17, 1993. Reports vary on the number of DF-15 missiles that were fired during these events.
127 Dan Caldwell, "Permissive Action Links (PAL): A Description and Proposal," Center for International and Strategic Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles, Working Paper No. 56, 1986, p. 14.
146 See arms control decionsmaking organizational chart by Wendy Frieman, "New Members of the Club: Chinese Participation in Arms Control Regimes 1980-95," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring/Summer 1996, p. 17.
151 "Can the U.S. Rely On China's Export Promises?" Risk, May 1996, p. 8; and Leonard Spector, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, presentation at a workshop on Post-Cold War Arm Control and Nonproliferation: A Challenge from China?, sponsored by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, February 29, 1996.
155 Bates Gill, SIPRI, presentation at a workshop on Post-Cold War Arm Control and Nonproliferation: A Challenge from China?, sponsored by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, February 29, 1996.
156 "Can the U.S. Rely On China's Export Promises?" Risk, May 1996, p. 9; "See No Evil," Far Eastern Economic Review, August 10, 1996, p. 20; "Chinese Missile Sales: A Chronology," Middle East Defense News, Section: Proliferation, Vol. 6, No. 15 & 16, May 17, 1993; and Gertz, "Beijing Flouts Nuke-Sales Ban," op. cit.
159 "Can the U.S. Rely On China's Export Promises?" Risk, May 1996, p. 9; Latter, "Ballistic Missile Proliferation in the Developing World," op. cit., p. 76; "Chinese Missile Sales: A Chronology,", op. cit.; and Elaine Sciolino, "CIA Report Says Chinese Sent Iran Arms Components," The New York Times, June 22, 1995, p. A1.
160 "Can the U.S. Rely On China's Export Promises?" Risk, May 1996, pp. 1, 11; and "Foreign Ministry Denies PRC Chemical Warfare Aid," Tehran Times, transcribed in FBIS-NES- 95-218, November 13, 1995, p. 83.