The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of the gen­eral staff, spoke pub­licly for the first time last week about China’s new air­craft car­rier-killing an­ti­ship bal­lis­tic mis­sile, the DF21D, and played down its de­vel­op­ment.

Gen. Chen said dur­ing a July 11 press con­fer­ence that the mis­sile was dis­cussed dur­ing talks with Joint Chiefs Chair­man Adm. Mike Mullen. He claimed the mis­sile is “still un­der re­search-and-de­vel­op­ment process. It is not equipped yet.”

Gen. Chen then sought to min­i­mize the sig­nif­i­cance of a mis­sile the Pen­tagon has called a game-chang­ing “area-de­nial” weapon de­signed to keep U.S. ships out of Asian waters. Hit­ting a ship at sea with a bal­lis­tic mis­sile re­quires pre­cise ac­cu­racy.

“Even though if, in the fu­ture, we are suc­cess­ful in re­search and de­vel­op­ment of this kind of weapons sys­tem, it will be a sys­tem for de­fense,” he said.

“If U.S. could re­duce a bit mil­i­tary spend­ing to spend more on the im­prove­ment of liveli­hood of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and also do more good things for world peo­ple, wouldn’t it be a bet­ter sce­nario?” Gen. Chen said, echo­ing sim­i­lar calls from lib­eral-left con­gres­sional Democrats and other pro­gres­sives.

To fur­ther play down China’s mil­i­tary, Gen. Chen said: “We are aware of the fact that what we lack most is the ca­pa­bil­ity of long-dis­tance [power] pro­jec­tion.”

A de­fense of­fi­cial said Gen. Chen is on the lead­ing edge of a new PLA pro­pa­ganda cam­paign, what the Pen­tagon calls “de­nial and de­cep­tion.”

Gen. Chen’s com­ments were likely in­tended to prompt a reeval­u­a­tion of China’s DF-21D by U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies that stud­ies have shown were chron­i­cally wrong or had un­der­es­ti­mated China’s mil­i­tary for at least the past two decades, caused in part by ac­cept­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion aimed at fool­ing an­a­lysts, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial. stop­pers were pro­vi­sions Moscow likely would view as legally bind­ing lim­its on point­ing in­ter­cep­tors at Rus­sia, and other lim­its on num­bers and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of mis­sile de­fenses.

Con­fir­ma­tion of the scrapped June agree­ment that was pre­pared for sign­ing by Pres­i­dent Obama at the Group of Eight sum­mit in Deauville, France, came from an un­likely source: Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov, Ms. Tauscher’s main mis­sile-de­fense in­ter­locu­tor.

Mr. Lavrov told Rus­sia’s staterun Ros­siya 24 tele­vi­sion on July 7 that dur­ing the Deauville sum­mit, “We dis­cussed, at the sug­ges­tion of the Amer­i­cans, the pos­si­bil­ity of adopt­ing a state­ment in which in­struc­tions would be given re­gard­ing a num­ber of im­por­tant is­sues that need to be set­tled prior to prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion [on mis­sile de­fense], but then, at the re­quest of Amer­i­cans, their own ini­tia­tive was re­called. Well, things like this do hap­pen.”

Asked if she would like to re­vise and ex­tend her re­marks in light of the Rus­sian min­is­ter’s state­ment, a State Depart­ment of­fi­cial said what Ms. Tauscher re­ally meant by “fic­tion” were as­ser­tions that she was work­ing on an agree­ment to limit mis­sile de­fenses.

Bill Gertz can be reached at in­sid­e­ther ing@wash­ing­ton­

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