The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

A re­cently pub­lished book by for­mer Pen­tagon of­fi­cial Michael Pills­bury has shed light on one of the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s dark­est se­crets: co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the CIA and com­mu­nist Chi­nese in­tel­li­gence ser­vices.

The book “The Hun­dred Year Marathon” was cleared for pub­li­ca­tion by the FBI, CIA and Pen­tagon, thus giv­ing many of its eye-open­ing dis­clo­sures an of­fi­cial cast.

China has not re­sponded to the book’s dis­clo­sures nor de­nied past co­op­er­a­tion, although one in­tel­li­gence-linked Chi­nese com­men­ta­tor stated that the book’s au­thor, now a con­sul­tant, does not rep­re­sent “main­stream” U.S. views on China.

Covert CIA-China co­op­er­a­tion was part of suc­ces­sive ad­min­is­tra­tions’ pro­grams to un­der­mine the Soviet Union, which China turned on af­ter re­al­iz­ing Moscow’s Marx­ist-Lenin­ist eco­nomic model was doomed. China in­stead be­gan court­ing the United States for eco­nomic ben­e­fit while cre­at­ing a re­vised com­mu­nist eco­nomic sys­tem.

The dis­clo­sures of clan­des­tine U.S.-China in­tel­li­gence co­op­er­a­tion dat­ing to the 1970s are likely to em­bar­rass Bei­jing. China fre­quently at­tacks the CIA for al­legedly fo­ment­ing demo­cratic revo­lu­tion in China and for sup­port­ing the ex­iled Ti­betan leader the Dalai Lama, whom China des­ig­nated as a ma­jor en­emy. Bei­jing also ac­cused the CIA of or­ga­niz­ing the re­cent large-scale pro-democ­racy demon­stra­tions in Hong Kong. The U.S. gov­ern­ment has de­nied any role in the public out­cry over creep­ing Chi­nese con­trol over the for­mer Bri­tish colony.

The book men­tions many pre­vi­ously dis­closed covert and clan­des­tine co­op­er­a­tions be­tween the CIA and Chi­nese in­tel­li­gence, along with many sur­pris­ing new de­tails. Mr. Pills­bury was in charge of the covert op­er­a­tions and was aware of the in­tel­li­gence co­op­er­a­tion when he was as­sis­tant un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for pol­icy plan­ning dur­ing the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The joint op­er­a­tions in­cluded the ma­jor elec­tronic spy­ing pro­gram in China, code-named Chest­nut, that tar­geted the Soviet Union and now Rus­sia, as well as covert ship­ments of Chi­nese arms to Afghan rebels bat­tling Soviet forces and anti-Cuban rebels in An­gola.

The dis­clo­sures that are said to have up­set Bei­jing the most, how­ever, were re­lated to a CIA-led op­er­a­tion to arm 50,000 anti-Viet­nam rebels in Cam­bo­dia be­gin­ning in 1982. Ini­tially, $2 mil­lion a year was spent, and then the amount was in­creased to $12 mil­lion and jointly con­ducted with Chi­nese as­sis­tance with Thai­land, Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore.

“The Chi­nese not only sold the weapons to us to give to the rebels, but also ad­vised us on how to con­duct th­ese covert op­er­a­tions,” Mr. Pills­bury wrote, adding that the co­op­er­a­tion re­vealed China’s strat­egy for weak­en­ing a strong “hege­mon,” a strat­egy that is likely be­ing used to­day against the United States.

The strat­egy calls for at­tack­ing the hege­mon’s vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, con­vinc­ing oth­ers to do the fight­ing and at­tack­ing the al­lies of the de­clin­ing hege­mon.

China, ac­cord­ing to the book, sup­ported Afghan rebel at­tacks in­side the Soviet Union un­til CIA lawyers ended the strikes as overly provoca­tive.

Asked about the de­clas­si­fied se­crets in the book, Mr. Pills­bury told In­side the Ring, “I was de­lighted that many mat­ters were ap­proved for re­lease that had been con­sid­ered clas­si­fied 10 years ago.”

A spokesman for the Chi­nese Em­bassy did not re­turn an email seek­ing com­ment.

An in­ter­est­ing his­tor­i­cal note is that part of the es­ti­mated $2 bil­lion China earned from U.S. weapons pur­chases in­di­rectly in­volved cur­rent Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, who vis­ited the Pen­tagon in 1980 — wear­ing a Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army uni­form — and was a note­taker dur­ing meet­ings with the sec­re­tary of de­fense.

The Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion also as­sisted China’s devel­op­ment of tech­nol­ogy with large in­fu­sions of know-how un­der a se­cret di­rec­tive that was de­signed to make China strong. Mil­i­tary aid was cut off af­ter the June 1989 Tianan­men Square at­tacks, but other aid con­tin­ued. The book did not say whether the clan­des­tine co­op­er­a­tion is con­tin­u­ing.

No Chi­nese of­fi­cial or leader has said any­thing pub­licly about the pro­grams, per­haps over con­cerns that the dis­clo­sures would un­der­mine their le­git­i­macy as good com­mu­nists op­pos­ing the U.S. hege­mon.


Cam­bo­dian coali­tion sol­diers car­ry­ing their Chi­ne­se­made AK-47s march at the wel­com­ing cer­e­mony of Pres­i­dent Prince Norodom Si­hanouk as he vis­its in Si­manouk Buri, Cam­bo­dia, in 1983.

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