China’s ‘arsenal’ spurs warnings; U.S. panel eyes Taiwan fight
The U.S. military is vulnerable to China’s advanced war-fighting systems, including space weapons and computer attacks that would be used in a future conflict over Taiwan, according to a congressional commission’s report released Nov. 21.
The full report of the U.S.China Economic and Security Review Commission also provides more details than the summary released last week, showing that China is engaged in a “largescale industrial espionage campaign” with “scores” of cases involving spies seeking U.S. technology.
The full repor t presents a harsh assessment of China’s military buildup and plans for a war against the U.S. if Beijing decided to use force against the island nation of Taiwan.
The report provides evidence countering statements by Chinese officials, and some U.S. officials, who say China’s buildup is peaceful.
“The Commission concluded that China is developing its military in ways that enhance its capacity to confront the United States,” the report stated. “For example, China has developed the capability to wage cyberwarfare and to destroy surveillance satellites overhead as part of its tactical, asymmetrical warfare arsenal.”
On Taiwan, the report said tensions between the island nation and China produced an “emotionally-charged stand-off that risks armed conflict if not carefully managed by both sides.”
“Such a conflict could involve the United States,” the report said.
The U.S. military is “significantly exposed to such attacks,” because of its reliance on systems of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, sur veillance and reconnaissance, the report said.
The report also warned that “China also could target America’s critical infrastructure in a confrontation” and said China’s arms buildup appears aimed at “acquiring the ability to overwhelm the defenses of, and suc- cessfully attack, U.S. carrier battle groups.”
Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Strategic Command commander, told the commission that China “is actively engaging in cyber-reconnaissance by probing the computer networks of U.S. government agencies as well as private companies.”
On anti-satellite weapons, China used a laser to “blind” a U.S. satellite in 2006, and it is testing microwave weapons to jam satellite communications.
“The successful anti-satellite test conducted by the PLA in January 2007 demonstrated the PLA’s ability to destroy satellites through the use of kinetic weapons as well,” the repor t said, using the acronym for the People’s Liberation Army, the communist-controlled military.
The report said China’s spaceweapons program is being carried out in secret “so China can maintain a positive international image.”
China’s space weapons are planned for use against satellites that pass above China and against U.S. Global Positioning System satellites. The weapons include a combination of ground-launched missiles, weather-monitoring rockets and ground attacks on earth stations.
To fuel its military and civilian economy, China’s government has engaged in what the report called “espionage and industrial theft activities” identified as “the leading threat to the security of U.S. technology.”
Recent Chinese spy cases outlined in the report include the case of FBI-penetration agent Katrina Leung, Chinese-born defense contractor Chi Mak, and Xiaodong Sheldon Meng, who supplied military technology illegally to China.
The report stated that “scores of other instances of espionage go unprosecuted or undetected.”
“As Chinese espionage against the U.S. military and American businesses continues to outpace the overwhelmed U.S. counterintelligence community, critical American secrets and proprietar y technologies are being transferred to the PLA and Chi- nese state-owned companies,” the report said.
The repor t concluded that “surprises” about Chinese military and technology developments raise questions about the quality of U.S. intelligence on China.
It also revealed that China continues to sell weapons and technology to rogue states and unstable regions.
China is providing military goods to North Korea for use in its missile program and warned that unchecked transfers “could result in the transfer of weapons or technology to North Korea that could destabilize the military balance on the Korean Peninsula and fur ther entrench that regime’s dictatorship,” the report said.
China also allowed Nor th Korea to use ports and airfields to ship military goods to Iran and other states, the report said.
The commission recommended improving the protection of U.S. technology from Chinese spies, and working with U.S. allies to counter China’s cyberattacks.