PACOM DOWN­PLAYS CHINA TEST

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The for­mer as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for East Asia said at a meet­ing at the Center for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies that a lo­cal in­ci­dent — not a planned mil­i­tary at­tack — is more likely to pro­duce a fu­ture U.S.China cri­sis.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment has sought for years to de­velop a “rules of the road” for mil­i­tary in­ter­ac­tion with China in Asia — with lim­ited suc­cess, Mr. Camp­bell said Jan. 15.

“Our forces are out there, they’re go­ing to be out there, we’re go­ing to sail near one another. We need to know how we will op­er­ate in close prox­im­ity,” said Mr. Camp­bell, head of The Asia Group con­sult­ing firm.

The Cow­pens “al­most col­lided, lit­er­ally less than 100 yards, from a Chi­nese ves­sel that went across its bow,” he noted.

For nearly two decades, the U.S. has tried to hold talks with China on mar­itime rules. “And frankly we have to ask our­selves why we’ve had such dif­fi­culty,” he said.

Among the rea­sons be­hind China’s re­luc­tance is that Bei­jing re­gards the U.S. mil­i­tary as “the gold stan­dard” for armed forces, Mr. Camp­bell said, “and they don’t want to re­veal cer­tain lim­i­ta­tions of ca­pa­bil­i­ties, so they’re very care­ful how they ex­pose us in those in­ter­ac­tions.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, ten­sions be­tween China’s mil­i­tary and the Com­mu­nist Party have made it dif­fi­cult for Chi­nese mil­i­tary of­fi­cials to en­gage their U.S. coun­ter­parts “the way our four-stars do on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” he said.

Party of­fi­cials re­strict China’s mil­i­tary from hold­ing sin­cere talks with U.S. of­fi­cials be­cause such ex­changes are re­garded as the ex­clu­sive do­main of the party.

“Third, what the Chi­nese want is for the United States not to op­er­ate so reg­u­larly and so close to their bor­ders,” Mr. Camp­bell said, not­ing that the mil­i­tary views U.S.-China mil­i­tary agree­ments as tan­ta­mount to “giv­ing seat­belts to speed­ers.”

An agree­ment out­lin­ing mil­i­tary op­er­at­ing rules in Asia would give the U.S. greater con­fi­dence and un­der­mine Chi­nese ef­forts to drive U.S. forces out of the re­gion.

“They don’t want us to have that con­fi­dence op­er­at­ing near them,” Mr. Camp­bell said, not­ing that Chi­nese op­po­si­tion to mil­i­tary agree­ments is based on con­cerns that they will mir­ror Cold War pacts with the Soviet Union and thus re­flect that China’s com­mu­nist regime is to­day’s Soviet state.

“And lastly, China has a very dif­fer­ent con­cept of de­ter­rence than the United States,” he said. “Our con­cept of de­ter­rence is shock and awe. Let’s show you what we got and that will dis­suade you.”

For the Chi­nese, de­ter­rence means “you’re go­ing to have un­cer­tainty” about what strate­gic mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties they will em­ploy, he said.

All th­ese fac­tors ex­pose “very deep dif­fer­ences in strate­gic cul­ture,” Mr. Camp­bell said.

The chal­lenge of the next 20 years, he noted, will be to try and reach com­mon ground with Bei­jing on mil­i­tary is­sues.

For the United States, suc­cess in deal­ing with China will re­quire a con­certed po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary ef­fort as well as close ties to al­lies, Mr. Camp­bell said.

The dovish com­man­der of U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand re­cently played down China’s stun­ning test of a new, ul­tra-high-speed strate­gic strike ve­hi­cle that many other mil­i­tary and na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials say rep­re­sents a quan­tum leap in Chi­nese strate­gic ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Navy Adm. Sa­muel R. Lock­lear said dur­ing a re­cent speech in Crys­tal City, Va., that he was not overly con­cerned about the test of the hy­per­sonic glide ve­hi­cle.

Bei­jing’s mil­i­tary car­ried out the test of a mis­sile­boosted glide ve­hi­cle, dubbed WU-14 by the Pen­tagon, on Jan. 9. The ma­neu­ver­able glider is said to be ca­pa­ble of trav­el­ing at speeds of up to Mach 10, or 7,680 mph, mak­ing it very dif­fi­cult to counter with mis­sile de­fenses.

Adm. Lock­lear went on to say that, in de­vel­op­ing weapons tech­nolo­gies, the Chi­nese are “bet­ter at that than we are.”

“They get to it faster. Of course, they have dif­fer­ent pro­cesses that al­low them to get to it faster,” he said.

Adm. Lock­lear also said that be­cause sev­eral

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