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US must check China's militarism
Paul Lin
10/24/2003

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Before China launched the Shenzhou V spacecraft, a struggle developed between former president and military commission chairman Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao regarding who should attend the launch. In the end, it was Hu who appeared at the launch site, and Premier Wen Jiabao who declared the return a success. Jiang was merely the third person to deliver his congratulatory speech.

Everything progressed according to the "rules" in order to prove that the party and the nation carry more weight than the army. Jiang is at a disadvantage in these intra-party struggles. Looking at the bigger picture, however, the party does not want to leave the outside world with the impression China is a military state.

However, regardless of whether we look at this issue from the point of view of the military's involvement in the Shenzhou project, or from the point of view of consistent Chinese Communist Party (CCP) thinking, it is a continuation of the approach formulated by former foreign minister Chen Yi, who said, "At the risk of losing our pants, we are determined to go ahead and build our own atomic bomb."

Military goals of course remain the main concern. The Washington Times has revealed that Shenzhou V placed a military spy satellite in space during its 14 revolutions around Earth.

According to Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1995-2002, a report from the US Congressional Research Service, China bought arms worth US$17.8 billion during this period, and it was the world's largest arms buyer last year. Why is China in such a rush to expand its military might? Given its huge population and current military strength, no one would dare think about invading it. The only explanation is its ambition to realize the dream of becoming a dominant power.

Following the launch of Shenzhou V, the Internet crowd could not help but shout a few slogans -- attack Japan, destroy the US, unify the world -- which are echoes of the Chinese education system. China's diplomatic strategy has traditionally been to attack neighbors and maintain friendly relations with distant nations.

In contemporary warfare, however, distance is not a big problem. What's more, the greatest restraint on Chinese expansion is the US. China has therefore changed strategies, and now looks for a friendly relationship with its neighbors so it can build a united front with which to attack the US, the leader of the democratic world.

Since Japan and Taiwan are protected by the US' nuclear umbrella, they may be the first to be attacked. To realize this goal, it would rely on trickery to placate the US in order to divide, undermine and attack its allies one by one.

Russia is the key to realizing China's dream of domination, and China has therefore been willing to give up territory in exchange for Sino-Russian military cooperation. Just after the CCP's 16th National Congress last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Beijing, where he and Jiang issued a joint statement. According to the statement, "The two heads of state reiterate that regardless of changes in the international situation and regardless of domestic changes in Russia or China, the two sides are determined to abide by the guidelines and principles stated in the treaty."

In other words, China has no regrets whatsoever about giving up its territory in order to win the hearts of the Russian people. In this way, China does not have to fear that an attack will be launched from the rear.

But with Russian weapons accounted for, China would still not be able to take on the US, and China therefore continues to chisel away at the US and Europe. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (FP) visited the US late last month to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue and to ingratiate himself with the US. The US repeatedly showed its gratitude for China's efforts. Li met with Secretary of State Colin Powell, and leader of the US' hawks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He was even received informally by President George W. Bush.

Such high-caliber treatment made Li very excited. When he attended a US-China Business Council lunch on Sept. 23, after meeting with congressional leaders earlier that day, he called on the US to relax its regulations for high-tech exports to China. He said that this would help cut the US trade deficit.

Unintentionally, Li revealed what China wants most from the US -- advanced technology for its military. On Oct. 13, China issued its first EU policy document, in which it said it hoped the EU would become China's biggest trading and investment partner.

The document also requested that the EU as soon as possible abolish its ban on arms sales to China and eliminate obstacles to the broadening of military industry and technology cooperation between China and the EU. It is clear that China is using economic incentives to entice the US and European countries and their businesspeople to transfer high-tech military equipment to them.

China desperately wants these military technologies. In addition to realizing China's dream of domination, it will also allow China to export to evil-doing countries, make money and once again create trouble for the US.

US companies leaking space shuttle technology to China during the Clinton presidency and China's ability to steal or illegally buy high-tech products from the US provide further evidence for this view.

Democratic countries should take preventive measures before it is too late to deal with China's attempts at realizing military dominance, spreading dictatorship and diminishing human rights.


Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.

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