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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Friday, March 30, 2007

China Space, Cyberspace War Gains Impress: US

China's development of modern modes of warfare including military uses of outer space and cyberspace have yielded impressive gains that require U.S. vigilance, experts told a congressional panel on March 29.

The officials and security analysts told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission that China’s military modernization also raises alarms because the communist government in Beijing remains secretive about its intentions.

China’s test-firing of a ballistic missile that pulverized one of its own satellites about 537 miles (865 km) above Earth was not a surprise because it was Beijing’s third attempt, Gen. James Cartwright, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, said.

But he told the commission the much-criticized Jan. 11 anti-satellite test was "impressive how quickly they got the capability" and "should be a wake up call to others" about the systems China is pursuing in outer space.

"They have fielded a wide range of jamming and anti-satellite capabilities," Cartwright told a hearing in Washington a day after China called for a treaty to stop the spread of weapons in outer space.

In cyber warfare, China also had a well-organized program and "a long-term view, not a short-term view, in this activity and it will pay off," he said.

"Other nations are doing likewise, but I do not believe any have demonstrated the scale or the financial commitment to move in the direction that China has demonstrated," added Cartwright.

William Schneider of the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, told the panel that China was "acquiring asymmetric capabilities that reflect a studied assessment of U.S. civil and military vulnerabilities."
These new capabilities complement China’s rapid build-up of conventional armaments such as missiles, warships and aircraft, he said.

"The scope, though not yet the scale of these investments, is consistent with global aspirations, but by most assessments, is excessive in relation to China’s regional security needs," said Schneider in remarks similar to Pentagon complaints.

"China has not responded to requests for greater transparency, leaving China’s defense modernization open to many alternative interpretations," he added.

Andrew Erickson of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College told the commission China’s military build-up remained largely focused on Taiwan, the self-governing island over which Beijing claims sovereignty and has vowed to attack should Taipei declare independence.

"There is little evidence to show that the (Chinese navy) is developing the capabilities necessary to extend its ability to project power much beyond China’s claimed territorial waters," Erickson said.
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