China in­tel­li­gence gaps

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

The com­man­der of U.S. forces in the Pa­cific says he is con­cerned about the lack of strate­gic in­for­ma­tion avail­able on China’s mil­i­tary forces de­spite U.S. spy agen­cies iden­ti­fy­ing Bei­jing’s mil­i­tary as a key col­lec­tion tar­get.

“There are more gaps than I’d like to dis­cuss here,” Adm. Ti­mothy J. Keat­ing, the com­man­der of U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand, told re­porters in Hong Kong on Feb. 18.

Adm. Keat­ing went on to iden­tify key Chi­nese mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ments that are a con­cern, in­clud­ing a sub­ma­rine buildup, “area de­nial” weapons, such as us­ing long-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles to tar­get air­craft car­ri­ers; an­ti­satel­lite weapons and cy­ber­war­fare ef­forts.

The com­ments on in­tel­li­gence gaps high­light a long-stand­ing prob­lem of lack of in­for­ma­tion on China’s mil­i­tary and in­ten­tions.

For ex­am­ple, in 2001, a 12mem­ber com­mis­sion of ex­perts from out­side the gov­ern­ment, headed by re­tired Army Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr., found that U.S. in­tel­li­gence on China’s mil­i­tary was flawed.

Also, the Pen­tagon’s Of­fice of Net As­sess­ment in De­cem­ber 2000 warned that the Pen­tagon could not pre­dict the out­come of a con­flict be­tween China and Tai­wan be­cause of in­tel­li­gence gaps.

The late Peter W. Rodman, an as­sis­tant de­fense sec­re­tary, told re­porters in 2006 that there were “gaps” in U.S. in­tel­li­gence on China that caused sur­prises in the past, such as the new Yuan­class sub­ma­rine that was un­known to U.S. in­tel­li­gence un­til a photo of it was pub­lished in 2004.

Chi­nese Col. Chen Zhou stated in an ex­change with Chi­nese blog­gers Feb. 19 that a re­cent white pa­per sought to “han­dle well the re­la­tion­ship be­tween trans­parency and con­fi­den­tial­ity.” He stated that “in­creas­ing mil­i­tary trans­parency serves to in­crease mu­tual trust among coun­tries. But trans­parency is rel­a­tive; it must not af­fect the in­ter­est of na­tional se­cu­rity.”

A U.S. de­fense of­fi­cial said the in­tel­li­gence gaps on China have per­sisted for more than a decade. He spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of in­tel­li­gence short­falls. He blamed the gaps in part on lim­ited U.S. hu­man in­tel­li­gence and elec­tronic spy­ing.

An in­tel­li­gence spokesman had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

Adm. Keat­ing said China’s re­cently re­leased an­nual de­fense white pa­per failed to ad­dress U.S. con­cerns about the Chi­nese mil­i­tary buildup.

“We do not think it is as forth­com­ing as the Chi­nese think it is,” he said. “We want to un­der­stand why they feel com­pelled to de­velop un­der­wa­ter ca­pa­bil­i­ties to the ex­tent that they are. We’d like to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of their no­tion of area-de­nial weapon tech­nol­ogy. We’d like to know bet­ter why they are con­cen­trat­ing in cer­tain ar­eas of space op­er­a­tions. We’d like to un­der­stand more fully their cy­ber­war­fare tech­nol­ogy and in­ten­tions.”

The Chi­nese arms de­vel­op­ments are known, but there are ar­eas “where their stated in­ten­tions don’t ap­pear to us to align with their ob­vi­ous de­vel­op­ments that we see,” he said.

“Trans­parency in­volves a cer­tain in­sight or abil­ity to see. We want an abil­ity to un­der­stand and not just to see the weapons that they are de­vel­op­ing.”

Adm. Keat­ing said his com­mand is “very care­fully” watch­ing China’s buildup of both nu­clear-mis­sile and at­tack sub­marines as well as diesel sub­marines, which num­ber about 65 and are in­creas­ing their pa­trols far­ther from Chi­nese coasts.

He de­fended a se­cu­rity fail­ure in 2006 when the air­craft car­rier bat­tle group led by the USS Kitty Hawk al­lowed a Chi­nese sub­ma­rine to sail un­de­tected within tor­pedo range of the ship.

“No dan­ger pre­sented to ei­ther,” he said. “The car­rier was in a very re­laxed pos­ture. If there were some height­ened state of ten­sion, we would, be­lieve me, we would not let them get that close. But we are watch­ing the sub­ma­rine tech­nol­ogy very care­fully. We want them to un­der­stand that there are rules of the road, both fig­u­ra­tive and lit­eral, and it is very much in their best in­ter­est to ob­serve and op­er­ate by those rules of the road.”

China’s mil­i­tary has re­buffed re­peated ef­forts by Pa­cific Com- mand and the Pen­tagon to reach a mar­itime agree­ment on naval op­er­at­ing rules.

The Chi­nese Em­bassy de­clined com­ment.


Adm. Ti­mothy J. Keat­ing, com­man­der of the U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand


Gen. Nor­ton A. Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff

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