"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004

U.S. Announces Taiwan Arms Deal

May 2000

By Wade Boese

Acting on the Pentagon's advice, the Clinton administration decided April 17 to supply Taiwan with advanced missiles and, eventually, a long-range radar for detecting ballistic missile launches, but shelved Taiwan's request for four advanced warships. The decision drew relatively little fire from China, which opposes all U.S. arms sales to the island, but evoked harsh criticism from Senate Republican leaders.

Always a sensitive issue, several factors further complicated this year's annual U.S. decision on Taiwan's arms requests. In February, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed pro-Taiwan legislation vehemently objected to by China, and Beijing announced a new condition under which China would resort to force to reunify Taiwan with the mainland. (See ACT, March 2000.) In March, Taiwan elected a long-time pro-independence advocate, Chen Shuibian, as president, and reports appeared that a classified Pentagon assessment concluded Taiwan's defenses are falling behind technologically.

Although the arms package remains officially undisclosed and will not be finalized until Taiwan decides on specific contracts, the Clinton administration reportedly authorized the export of the air-to-surface Maverick missile, the man-portable anti-tank Javelin missile, and the beyond-visual-range AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) to Taiwan, none of which have been previously sold to Taipei.

Linking Beijing's own arms acquisitions with what the United States supplies Taiwan, the AMRAAM, which is an advanced "fire-and-forget" missile, will not be shipped to Taiwan unless China adds a missile with similar capabilities to its arsenal. Taiwanese pilots, however, will receive AMRAAM training.

In addition, the administration agreed to provide Taiwan with a PAVE PAWS radar for detecting missile launches within China once Taiwan shows it can integrate the long-range radar into the island's early-warning systems and air and missile defenses. For now, the administration has agreed to supply software upgrades to extend the range of Taiwan's current radar systems. China has been deploying some 50 additional surface-to-surface missiles per year across from Taiwan.

The administration deferred Taiwan's most-publicized and controversial request for four destroyers equipped with the Aegis combat system, an advanced radar and battle management system capable of tracking some 100 targets simultaneously. Taiwanese requests for submarines and anti-submarine aircraft were also put off.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe said the administration will undertake a "comprehensive" study of Taiwan's naval requirements that will revisit the Aegis-equipped destroyers as a possible candidate system for the island's defense. Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon, speaking April 18, also left the door open on the warships, noting that Washington is committed under law to help Taiwan meet its defense needs, and that "the greater the threat posed by China, the greater Taiwan's defensive needs will be." The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act calls on the United States to supply Taiwan with weapons "sufficient" for its self-defense.

China, which had forcefully warned against supplying Taiwan with warships, reacted relatively mildly to the trimmed-down arms package, saying simply that it will add tension to cross-strait relations. Beijing, as it frequently does, urged Washington to abide by its pledges in the 1982 Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqué not to "carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan" and not to sell weapons qualitatively or quantitatively exceeding those sold in years prior to 1982.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) blasted the administration April 18 for having "once again flagrantly violated the Taiwan Relations Act by giving Beijing a veto over Taiwan's defense requests." In a vitriolic statement the day before, Helms said the administration had "sunk to a new low" and that the weapons denials were "driven by knee-jerk appeasement."

Helms further stated that the "politicized handling of Taiwan's defense request" showed why Senate approval of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, which passed the House of Representatives on February 1, is "so urgently needed." The Senate version of the act authorizes the president to make specific weapons systems available to Taiwan and mandates closer ties between the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) also expressed disappointment with the decision not to supply the destroyers (which are built in Mississippi), submarines, and anti-submarine aircraft. Lott stated that the administration "should worry more about protecting and promoting Taiwan's democracy than offending the communist dictators in Beijing."

Unlike Helms, Lott did not suggest passing the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act to offset the administration's decision. Rather, Lott said he looks forward "to working with our next president to revitalize our alliances and strengthen deterrence in Asia."

The act, which the administration has indicated it would veto, is on the Senate calendar, but not scheduled for debate or a vote. Taiwanese leaders, including President-elect Chen, told Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) during an April visit to Taiwan that Senate consideration of the act should be delayed at least until Taiwan's May 20 presidential inauguration to avoid upsetting Beijing.

One congressional staffer suggested that "Lott may be reluctant to bring the bill to the floor when senior members of his own caucus have deep reservations about the bill." For example, in an April 12 speech, Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY), chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said enactment of the legislation would be a "grave mistake."

In addition, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) has threatened a filibuster if the bill is brought to the floor, thereby putting a "hold" on Senate action. Sixty votes are required to end a filibuster.

U.S. Announces Taiwan Arms Deal

Sparking a Buildup: U.S. Missile Defense and China's Nuclear Arsenal

Charles Ferguson

"A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it." —Chinese proverb

Currently, China is exploring how to modernize its aging nuclear forces as it simultaneously finds itself adapting to the circumstances presented by the U.S. development of advanced theater missile defense for East Asia and national missile defense for the United States. The concurrence of these two events could lead to China shaping a significantly larger nuclear force that could strike the United States unless Washington decides that missile defense deployment is not in its best interest and China continues to adhere to a minimum deterrent posture consistent with its currently small arsenal.

More than simply finding ways to preserve China's nuclear deterrent, the vociferous Chinese opposition to U.S. missile defense plans symbolizes the more significant strategic clash over the roles of the United States and China in the world. Just at the time when China is starting to develop economic and military muscle and is successfully emerging from a century of foreign domination and humiliation, which stretched from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th, it is increasingly alarmed about the United States as a global hegemon that is growing without bounds.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin articulated the strategic clash between China and the United States in a speech commemorating the Chinese who died as a result of the May 1999 U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Kosovo. "Relying on its economic, scientific, technological, and military prowess, the United States continues to practice hegemony and power politics and wantonly interferes in the internal affairs of other countries. What it has done has heightened the vigilance of more and more countries and people," he said.<1>

Making explicit the perceived connection between missile defense and the United States' encroachment on China's sovereignty, General Zhang Wannian, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, stated, "Any country selling the theater missile defense system to China's Taiwan or incorporating Taiwan in the theater missile defense program will directly or indirectly put Taiwan in the framework of Japan-U.S. security cooperation, which will be a grave infringement in China's internal affairs." He made this statement at a June 9, 1999, meeting with Marshal Sergeyev, Russia's minister of defense, who "expressed satisfaction with the development of friendly cooperation between the two armed forces [of China and Russia]," according to Zhang. He added that "Russia is resolutely opposed to the U.S. attempt for world hegemony."<2>

From the U.S. government's perspective, its "leadership has never been more needed, or more in demand. And so it is perplexing that the United States finds itself today being accused of both hegemony and isolationism at the same time," according to Samuel Berger, assistant to the president for national security affairs.<3> In the same speech, he elaborated, "Among our many friends and allies around the world, the dominant vision of the United States still is one of a country whose leadership is essential to peace and prosperity and which exercises leadership for the greater good." Concerning China, he called for balance, asserting that "we should not look at China through rose-colored glasses; neither should we see it through a glass darkly, distorting its strength and ignoring its complexities."

To follow Berger's advice on China, each side needs to understand the other's security concerns. The coincident timing between China's nuclear force modernization and the United States' missile defense development presents a critical moment for the United States and China to attempt to reach a strategic understanding. It is not clear whether or not the United States will decide to deploy a national missile defense, but U.S. intentions toward China seem ambiguous at best, and hostile at worst. China is modernizing its nuclear forces, and there are several courses of action that it could take to defeat a U.S. national missile defense (NMD)—options Washington should be aware of before making its decision. To avert nuclear escalation, both sides must enter a sustained exchange of views on their intentions about missile defense and force modernization, in particular, and their roles in the world, in general. This dialogue should culminate in actions that reduce the risk of either planned or accidental nuclear conflict.

America's Unclear Intentions

In trying to determine if U.S. missile defense is designed for China, Chinese leaders hear two distinct political voices. The Republicans forcefully announce that missile defense is intended for China, but the Clinton administration takes a more ambiguous position. While the administration has clearly stated that the United States needs an NMD system to defend against so-called "rogue" nations, such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq, and to shoot down a handful of missiles from an accidental launch, it has not explicitly mentioned China as one of the driving forces behind NMD. Despite this ambiguity, current U.S. NMD plans appear sized for the small Chinese ICBM force.

The Clinton administration has spent considerably more effort courting Russia on accepting U.S. missile defense than it has openly put forth addressing Chinese concerns. For example, in discussing the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in November 1999, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, "The limited changes [to the treaty] we are contemplating would not undermine Russian security," but she failed to explicitly discuss the impact on Chinese security.<4> Although this approach might be expected because the United States and Russia are the parties to the treaty and because Russia has a far larger nuclear arsenal, it only serves to further obfuscate U.S. intentions.

Defense Secretary William Cohen has also carefully avoided any explicit reference to China in U.S. national missile defense designs. For instance, during a talk in January 1999 in which he outlined the missile threat, he never once mentioned China. Following that speech, he also dodged the issue of China when a questioner asked, "Secretary [of Defense Robert] McNamara made a very similar speech 32 years ago that you just went through, except he named China as the rogue nation…. What are your hopes and fears in that line?" Cohen replied, "What we're dealing with here is the question of those nations—rogue nations could be North Korea, it could be others—who acquire a limited capability that could in fact pose a threat to the American people. We intend to develop, are prepared to develop, a system that would give us that limited type of protection against either the rogue nation or the accidental, unauthorized type of launch."<5>

Following a January meeting at the Pentagon with Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai from the Chinese Ministry of Defense, Walter Slocombe, undersecretary of defense for policy, was asked if the administration tried to "convince [the Chinese] that NMD is not designed to take away their nuclear deterrent." He replied, "It's not for us to convince them of that proposition." He later added, "I have said in the past that we believe that our system is designed with respect to rogue states. That is the concern. It is not aimed at China or Russia or any other country, other than the rogue states."<6>

Though the United States has been less than forthcoming in its rhetoric, it has at last begun to engage China in a dialogue about NMD. In February, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott led a high-level delegation to Beijing to explain U.S. national missile defense plans and U.S. views of the emerging missile threat.

Of course, for President Clinton, NMD has another purpose: to shield his chosen successor from charges of being soft on defense. As John Pike, a scholar at the Federation of American Scientists who is opposed to missile defense, has observed, "The president's deployment decision will have more to do with defending Al Gore against George Bush than the American people against North Korea."<7> Indeed, in assessing U.S. intentions and planning its nuclear force modernization, China has to determine not only what the meaning behind the Clinton administration's vagueness means, but also the likely direction of U.S. policy when a new president takes office in less than a year. Chinese leaders need to ascertain if the United States' China policy and missile defense plans will change soon.

Vice President Gore will probably continue the Clinton administration's policy on missile defense if he becomes the president. In a December debate in New Hampshire, Gore expressed the guarded view that "some kinds of missile defense" would be permissible given the current state of U.S. relations with Taiwan and the mainland. When asked by a reporter to be more specific, Gore demurred.<8> He coined a new term "constructive ambiguity" as the hallmark of the United States' success in dealing with China. Despite the studied ambiguity, Gore and his foreign policy team have clearly expressed that they do not want to spark an arms race over missile defense to Taiwan. In contrast, they have been less clear on the impact of national missile defense on China's deterrent vis-à-vis the United States.

Unlike Gore, Bill Bradley has apparently been forging his foreign policy views without as much external input. He was roundly criticized following a town meeting on foreign policy at Tufts University on November 29, 1999. Notably, he spoke little about missile defense or China.<9> However, of all the presidential candidates, Bradley expresses the most caution over the consequences that missile defense could have on arms control and strategic stability.

In contrast to Gore's ambiguity and Bradley's caution, Governor George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, the two leading Republican presidential contenders, are not reticent about their support for deploying missile defense and directing it at China. Both have pledged to deploy national missile defense even if it means abrogating the ABM Treaty.

In a recent foreign policy interview, McCain discussed his policy on national and theater missile defense. He said, "What we need is to build modest systems and improve on them. For example, I'd like to see us develop a sea-based system that we could station off Taiwan, if necessary, in international waters." He was then asked if that would provoke China. In response, he said, "We would only do that in case the Chinese were acting aggressively toward Taiwan, which would be a violation of the one China policy, which they are committed to, because the one China policy calls for the peaceful reunification of China."<10> McCain believes in addressing China with unabashed realism. He has characterized Chinese leaders as "determined, indeed ruthless, defenders of their regime, who will do whatever is necessary, no matter how inhumane or offensive to us, to pursue their own interest."<11>

Unlike McCain, Bush has not served in Congress and lacks McCain's depth of experience in foreign policy. Nonetheless, Bush has built foreign policy muscle by enlisting a formidable team of advisers on whom he is apt to rely heavily. Concerning China, they appear divided. In particular, Condoleezza Rice, a key adviser in the Bush administration's National Security Council, takes a realist stance and remarks that "China has its own interests. It's a great power in the traditional sense. You need a broadly based policy, try to encourage economic liberalization, compete where you must on security issues."<12> However, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, two other Bush advisers, see China in a more hostile light. Significantly, in July 1999, they signed a Heritage Foundation document that called for the United States "to deter any form of Chinese intimidation of the Republic of China on Taiwan and declare unambiguously that it will come to Taiwan's defense in the event of an attack or a blockade against Taiwan, including against the offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen [Quemoy]." Notwithstanding their somewhat different stances on China, all the advisers support missile defense.

In a November interview with The New York Times, Bush spelled out his views on missile defense deployment and transfer of missile defense to Taiwan. Concerning deployment, he said, "I think we ought to give Russia a reasonable period of time...if not, we ought to abrogate the ABM Treaty." He specified that a reasonable period is "months," not years. In response to a question concerning whether or not he has decided about selling missile defense to Taiwan, he replied, "You mean, when we deploy the Aegis cruiser system, for example, will we sell the technology to Taiwan? Depends on how the Chinese behave."<13> Trying to split the difference between menacing and coddling China, he said, "[China] will be unthreatened, but not unchecked."<14>

China's Perspective: Back to the Future

After the bombing of Kosovo, Chinese leaders are worrying where the United States' humanitarian and democratic missions—backed by military power—will venture next. In 1997, China regained Hong Kong, and last December it reacquired Macau. Chinese leaders have clearly stated that Taiwan is next in line for reunification. However, U.S. military aid to Taiwan serves to stymie those plans. While the U.S. government supports the one China policy, thereby not advocating Taiwanese independence, the United States is required to equip Taiwan with weapons for its self-defense, in accordance with the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act and the three communiqués. Recently, a majority in the House of Representatives voted to increase military aid and ties through the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, which the Clinton administration has threatened to veto.

Taiwan has expressed strong interest in receiving advanced theater missile defense (TMD) from the United States. Although the United States has sold the Patriot Advanced Capability-2, a limited TMD system, to Taiwan, it has not decided whether to provide more advanced TMD, if such systems are developed. In March 1999, during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, Secretary of State Albright reportedly stated that "there would be less need for [TMD] if China stopped pointing its missiles so aggressively at Taiwan or were more helpful in restraining North Korea."<15> These remarks were tempered when she explained that "a decision...has not been made to deploy defensive technologies that do not yet exist."<16> On November 12, 1999, State Department spokesman James Rubin said that Washington does "not preclude the possible sale of TMD items to Taiwan in the future." However, the United States does not support Taiwan's development of long-range ground-to-ground ballistic missiles.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province. Although China is unlikely to invade Taiwan in the near future, it has not relinquished the option of using military force against Taiwan. Regarding missile defense for Taiwan, China is adamantly opposed and concerned that it will embolden Taiwan's leaders to declare independence. Taiwan's desire for U.S. missile defenses from the United States represents only one of the outstanding elements of the U.S.-Chinese-Taiwanese missile diplomacy triangle. During this past year, reports have surfaced that China has deployed as many as several hundred short-range ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan. Although some Chinese officials have openly denied that China is targeting Taiwan with missiles, the Chinese missile firings just north and south of Taiwan prior to the 1996 Taiwanese presidential election removed any doubt that China would use missiles to try to influence Taiwan's behavior. In response, the United States demonstrated resolve by positioning two aircraft carrier battle groups near Taiwan.

To Chinese leaders, potential enhanced military ties between the United States and Taiwan flashes back to the time of the 1954 Taiwan Strait Crisis and the events preceding it. The Korean War ended in 1953 with the Korean Peninsula divided between the North, backed by China, and the South, supported by the United States. Although the United States and allied forces lost tens of thousands of troops, China suffered even greater losses, with perhaps up to 1 million soldiers having died.

During the Korean War, China felt coerced by the United States' threat of nuclear attack. This nuclear blackmail contributed to China's fears of U.S. containment that were further inflamed by events over Taiwan. Soon after the Korean War, the United States moved to bring Taiwan into a mutual defense pact. Fueling China's concerns over encroachment of its sovereignty, in late 1953 and early 1954, Taiwanese warships hijacked some merchant ships belonging to or headed for China. In summer 1954, the United States sent two aircraft carrier battle groups into the East China Sea. Closely following these events, on September 3, 1954, China began an artillery bombardment of the offshore island of Quemoy, which was claimed by Taiwan. These and other increased tensions led to the signing of the mutual defense pact between Taiwan and the United States on December 2, 1954.

On January 15, 1955, China committed itself to building nuclear weapons to prevent further nuclear blackmail and to try to counter the United States' containment strategy. During that time period, Chairman Mao Zedong characterized the atomic bomb and U.S. imperialism as "paper tigers." Recently, Ambassador Sha Zukang, China's top arms control official, borrowed the term when referring to China's perception of missile defense. "Once you have got the [missile] shield, others will develop a spear strong enough to penetrate it.… Using Mao's words, it's a paper tiger—fierce enough to frighten away cowards only," he said.<17>

This past history demonstrates that when China has experienced nuclear threats and containment, it has reacted by developing nuclear weapons, thereby undermining U.S. security. In a reminiscent manner, China's current perceptions of infringements on its sovereignty through deployment of a U.S. NMD system and possible fortified military ties between the United States and Taiwan, including advanced TMD, could lead to a strengthening of China's missile force and nuclear arsenal. Such a reaction would also undercut U.S. security.

China's Potential Response to NMD: More Missiles, More Warheads

If the United States erects an NMD system, how many more ICBMs and warheads capable of striking the continental United States would China want to deploy?

Despite the fact that China is a developing country, it has the financial wherewithal to build as many missiles and warheads as it believes are necessary to oppose projected NMD plans. For instance, one Chinese analyst has estimated that China would have to spend less than one-tenth of what the United States would spend in order to maintain parity between Chinese missiles and U.S. missile interceptors. Building 200 ICBMs would cost about $2 billion. This expenditure could be spread over several years and would represent less than 2 percent of China's current foreign currency reserve.<18>

Chinese military planners would probably decide on the number of warheads and missiles to build based on worst-case assumptions about the effectiveness of the U.S. NMD system. Although the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) is not planning on achieving 100 percent effectiveness for its missile interceptors, Chinese planners may start with the assumption that each interceptor could be this effective.

They would then have to consider BMDO's firing doctrines. BMDO's canonical doctrine of two-on-one, shoot-look-shoot means that for every incoming warhead two interceptors will be initially launched, followed by two additional interceptors if the first two miss.<19> This doctrine implies deploying four interceptors for every expected warhead. However, if the Chinese military anticipates the first volley working essentially perfectly, China would choose to build at least two warheads for every four interceptors.

Under more rigorous testing than has yet transpired, BMDO may determine that it cannot adhere to an effective shoot-look-shoot firing doctrine because this tactic is too technically demanding. Instead, BMDO could rely on a barrage firing doctrine in which a volley of four interceptors would be launched for each warhead.

In the ultimate worst-case scenario, Chinese military planners would assign 100 percent effectiveness to each interceptor and assume that BMDO would rely on a single shot firing doctrine of one interceptor per warhead.

Table 1 lists the number of additional Chinese warheads on ICBMs that would be built based on the above firing doctrines and worst-case assumptions. It assumes that China believes that the two dozen ICBM warheads in its current arsenal are sufficient for China's nuclear deterrent without missile defense. However, China may be planning on building more ICBM warheads regardless of missile defense. In either case, more transparency about China's intentions for its future arsenal is needed.

Could the latest generation of Chinese ICBMs carry these additional warheads in a multiple-warhead mode? The United States and the Soviet Union developed multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) for their missiles as a means of overwhelming anticipated missile defenses. But MIRVs are not the only method to ensure penetration of defenses. Other feasible options include building more missiles with single warheads, in addition to deploying decoys and other countermeasures on missiles. However, MIRVs could be a less expensive method compared to deploying more missiles.

If deployed in sufficient quantities, MIRVs can provide the capability to destroy a significant portion of an enemy's missile force, thereby limiting damage from second or follow-on strikes. The Chinese would not pursue MIRVs for this reason because they have too few warheads for counterforce strikes against the United States or Russia. Both the U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals are more than 15 times the size of the total Chinese force. Further, China lacks the fissile material to build enough warheads to countenance a counterforce strategy, according to best estimates.<20>

China's new mobile missiles, once fully developed, will strengthen the survivability of China's nuclear force because they will be harder to target than the older silo- and cave-based missiles. But the newer solid-fueled missiles have significantly smaller throw-weights (payloads) than the previous generation of liquid-fueled missiles—a fact that could severely limit China's ability to MIRV these missiles.

While the May 1999 Cox Report and its proponents have trumpeted China's MIRVing capability, other intelligence community reports and analysts have raised doubts about whether China has the ability or the motivation to MIRV its missiles. The 1998 National Air Intelligence Center's Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat report states that China's DF-31 and DF-41 ICBMs will not be MIRVed. Moreover, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released in September 1999 notes that deployment of MIRVs on "a future mobile missile would be many years off."

To help set bounds on the possible number of multiple warheads that the Chinese missiles might carry, Table 2 lists the relevant characteristics of U.S. ICBMs. Using Table 2's data and assumptions, Table 3 shows the maximum number of warheads that each Chinese solid-fueled missile might hold.

For a relatively heavy warhead, such as the W88, China would only be able to place two or three MIRVs on its latest missiles.<22> In contrast, it would increase the MIRVing capacity by a factor of two to four by opting for a lighter warhead, such as the W68. The trade-off for more MIRVs involves a decrease in yield. Some U.S. defense analysts have argued that because smaller-yield warheads must be more accurate, China might not be able to MIRV.<23> On the contrary, accuracy should not be a major impediment as long as China subscribes to a countervalue doctrine of aiming warheads at cities. For example, a W68-type warhead that explodes even hundreds of meters away from the center of a populous city will probably kill hundreds of thousands of people.

However, this discussion should not be construed as advocating MIRVs on Chinese missiles. From an opponent's perspective, as the number of MIRVs increases per missile, the missile's value as a target also increases. From China's perspective, therefore, fewer or no MIRVs would enhance the survivability of its missile force.

Citing a further reason why China may not want to MIRV, physicist Richard Garwin has written, "MIRVs are not the optimal weapons if China anticipates encountering a U.S. national missile defense (NMD) system.… Instead, China is far more likely to use effective countermeasures (such as light-weight decoy balloons) rather than multiple RVs on its future missiles."<24> Although such countermeasures would provide a significant penetration capability of a limited NMD system, Chinese military and political leaders may decide that these measures are not adequate by themselves and that more missiles with more warheads might signal greater Chinese strength, thereby serving as a more effective political weapon. Nonetheless, several reports indicate that China has been testing decoys and other countermeasures on its latest generation missiles. Further, expanded military ties between Russia and China could lead to China's purchase of missile defense penetration aids from Russia.

Nuclear Risk Reduction Needed

If the United States deploys a limited NMD system, it will, in effect, eviscerate China's currently small deterrent. This action will pressure China to engage in an nuclear arms buildup. Although such an increase could be gradual, based on the pace of China's past nuclear force modernization programs, it is threatening nonetheless: the end result would be a significantly larger Chinese nuclear force able to strike the continental United States.

To mitigate these increased nuclear dangers, the United States and China should implement risk-reduction measures. While such steps cannot resolve the security dilemma posed by missile defense, they will enhance the security of both nations, even if the United States chooses not to deploy an NMD system.<25>

During the Cold War, Russia and the United States developed several agreements to reduce the risk of nuclear war between them. These agreements included confidence-building measures to increase communications, prevent incidents at sea and in the air, and prevent missile test-firings from sparking an inadvertent war. China and the United States should seriously consider implementing similar agreements.

While China and the United States have taken tentative steps toward some of these agreements, they have not done enough to construct more meaningful accords and enhance existing ones. Current agreements include the January 1998 Military Maritime Consultative Agreement, the May 1998 Hotline Agreement and the June 1998 Nuclear Weapons De-Targeting Agreement.

The first agreement established a consultative mechanism "to promote safe maritime practices and establish mutual trust [such] as search and rescue, communications procedures when ships encounter each other, interpretation of the Rules of the Nautical Road and avoidance of accidents at sea." While this agreement is an encouraging first step, it is lackluster in comparison to the detailed 1972 Incidents at Sea (INCSEA) agreement between the former Soviet Union and the United States.<26> Importantly, the original INCSEA agreement stipulated that each side should refrain from "simulating attacks" against the other. In the Taiwan Strait flashpoint, these restraints would lessen the risk of misconstruing the other side's intentions.

The second agreement provided for a direct communications link between the heads of government. Presidents Jiang and Clinton first tested it as part of Clinton's visit to China in June 1998. Building on this agreement, both sides could construct nuclear risk reduction centers in both China and the United States that would enhance diplomatic communication channels during times of crisis. These centers would facilitate other crisis reduction data exchanges.

The third agreement specifies that both sides agree to not target each other's nuclear forces. However, it is largely a symbolic gesture in that China reportedly maintains its nuclear weapons capable of striking the United States in a low-alert condition with warheads reportedly off the missiles and China has repeatedly declared a no-first-use policy.

A more meaningful confidence-building measure would be a de-alerted U.S. nuclear force.<27> Many arms control scholars have championed taking U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert to lessen the likelihood of accidental nuclear war. In the context of the U.S.-Chinese nuclear relationship, a de-alerted U.S. nuclear force could reduce Chinese fears of a first strike that could decimate China's retaliatory force and a U.S. missile defense system that could shoot down whatever remained. A de-alerted force that provides a mutually assured survivable deterrent and ensures that any re-alerting would be detected with sufficient advanced warning would give China adequate confidence that the United States does not intend to direct a first strike at it. Nevertheless, China should take steps to secure the survivability of its deterrent because a de-alerted U.S. force would not be sufficient to guarantee the viability of China's deterrent.

In addition, China and the United States should enact predictability measures that would achieve greater transparency between their militaries, such as annually exchanging data about force levels and plans. Such measures would build upon the resumption of high-level military-to-military contacts, as exemplified by the January talks at the Pentagon with Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai, the deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army's general staff.

While the United States and China are presently headed toward a strategic collision over missile defense, they still have time to avert a wreck. The next few years represent a critical period. China will be deciding the size and composition of its nuclear arsenal, taking into account U.S. missile defense plans. In parallel, the United States will be evaluating whether or not the criteria of missile threats, impact on arms control, technological readiness, and financial costs dictate missile defense deployment.

To help reduce the perceived need for these defenses, as one of North Korea's few friends, China can exert whatever influence it has on North Korea to curb that nation's missile program. Moreover, China can continue to make clear the adverse effect of missile defense on arms control and reductions. In the United States, the near-term policy on China and missile defense depends strongly on which political party will control the next presidency. The policy choice now appears to be either acrimony or ambiguity. However, the United States cannot afford to be acrimonious or ambiguous when it comes to its intentions concerning China and missile defense. Either option could lead to more Chinese nuclear warheads able to strike the United States.


The author would like to thank several colleagues, especially Li Bin and John Pike, for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.

1. "Text of Jiang Zemin 13 May Speech," FBIS-CHI-1999-0513, May 13, 1999.

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2. "Zhang Wannian Holds Talks with Sergeyev," FBIS-CHI-1999-0611, June 10, 1999.

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3. Samuel R. Berger, "Speech before Council on Foreign Relations on American Power," USIS Washington File, October 21, 1999.

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4. Madeleine Albright, "A Call for American Consensus: Why Our Arms-Control Leadership Is Too Important to Risk in Partisan Political Fights," Time, November 22, 1999.

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5. Department of Defense News Briefing, January 20, 1999.

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6. Department of Defense News Briefing, January 27, 2000.

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7. Elizabeth Becker and Eric Schmitt, "Delay Sought in Decision on Missile Defense," The New York Times, January 20, 2000, p. A13.

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8. Jim Mann, "In Asian View, Gore Is the Wild Card," The Los Angeles Times, December 22, 1999, p. 5.

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9. Mike Allen, "Bradley the Loner: A Campaign Liability?" The Washington Post, December 11, 1999, p. A4.

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10. George Weeks, "McCain: Clinton's Policy 'Feckless'," Detroit News, November 18, 1999, p. A13.

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11. "Remarks of Senator John McCain to National Jewish Coalition," December 1, 1999.

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12. Jacob Heilbrunn, "Condoleezza Rice: George W.'s Realist," World Policy Journal, Winter 1999/2000, p. 49.

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13. William Safire, "Pre-selling a Speech," The New York Times, November 18, 1999, p. 25.

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14. Dan Balz, "Bush Favors Internationalism: Candidate Calls China a 'Competitor,' Opposes Test Ban," The Washington Post, November 20, 1999, p. A1.

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15. "That Elusive Chinese Spring," The Economist, March 6, 1999, p. 27.

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16. Anthony Spaeth and Jaime A. FlorCruz, "Wanna Dance?" Time South Pacific, March 15, 1999, p. 40.

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17. Jim Mann, "China Snarls Again at 'Paper Tiger'," The Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2000, p. 5.

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18. Private communication with Dr. Shen Dingli, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

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19. For a more detailed discussion of missile defense effectiveness, read Dean Wilkening, "A Simple Model for Calculating Ballistic Missile Defense Effectiveness," CISAC Working Paper, August 1998.

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20. Lisbeth Gronlund, David Wright, and Yong Liu, "China and a Fissile Material Production Cut-off," Survival, Winter 1995/1996.

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21. Although the Poseidon submarine launched ballistic missile was tested with 14 MIRVs, the average deployed number of MIRVs was 10. With 14 MIRVs, the Poseidon essentially had little footprint crossrange. In other words, it could not cover spread out targets and thus had no real MIRVing capability. See: Graham Spinardi, From Polaris to Trident: The Development of the U.S. Fleet Ballistic Missile Technology, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 106-107.

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22. According to the Cox Report, China stole design information for the W88. This allegation has not been proven. Moreover, China claims that its weapons scientists are capable of producing these type of warheads without any help from espionage.

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23. Zalmay Khalilzad et al. , The United States and a Rising China: Strategic and Military Implications, RAND, 1999.

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24. Richard Garwin, "Why China Won't Build U.S. Warheads," Arms Control Today, April/May 1999, p. 28.

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25. These ideas are based on discussions with John Pike and a presentation, titled "Russian-American Risk Reduction with Chinese Characteristics" by the author given at the Eleventh International Summer Symposium on Science and World Affairs in Shanghai, China on July 30, 1999.

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26. Julian Schofield, "The Next Step: The Military Maritime Consultative Agreement and a Sino-American Incidents at Sea Agreement," Korean Defense Journal, Summer 1999.

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27. Michael O'Hanlon, "Star Wars Strikes Back," Foreign Affairs, November/December 1999, advanced a similar notion in the Russian-American context.

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Charles Ferguson, a physicist, directes the Nuclear Policy Project at the Federation of American Scientists. [Back to top]

CD Deadlock Continues as U.S. and China Square Off

Wade Boese

IN A MOVE THE UNITED STATES and China reiterated competing negotiation priorities and sharply criticized each other at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) during February, lowering the likelihood that the 66 conference members will soon reach the required consensus on a work program to start negotiations. Beijing is seeking formal negotiations on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, while Washington, the sole country blocking outer space negotiations, wants to commence work on a fissile material cutoff treaty.

Chinese Ambassador Hu Xiaodi declared on February 10 that the conference should negotiate a legal instrument to prevent the weaponization of outer space by prohibiting the "testing, deployment and use of any weapon system and their components in outer space" and limiting the "use of satellites for military purposes."

U.S. Ambassador Robert Grey responded on February 17 that a fissile material cutoff treaty remained Washington's first priority and that the time was "not ripe" for outer space or nuclear disarmament negotiations—another priority of China, as well as the Group of 21 non-aligned movement. The United States, according to Grey, is prepared to discuss these topics in a "suitable context," which is understood to mean in ad hoc working groups.

A proposal, circulated in late January by the conference president, that all three issues be addressed in ad hoc working groups would be a "step backward," Grey said, pointing out that the CD agreed on an ad hoc committee for cutoff negotiations in 1995 and 1998. Conference subsidiary bodies and negotiations do not carry over to the following year; rather, they must be renewed by a new work program each year.

Grey characterized recent conference statements lamenting the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament as "too negative an appraisal." He noted the United States had dismantled 13,000 nuclear warheads over the past decade and that Russia and the United States were exploring lower weapons levels in START III. Washington is seeking a range of 2,000 to 2,500 deployed strategic warheads, while Moscow wants to reduce to some 1,500.

Responding to a January 27 Chinese statement that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) had been "trampled on," Grey acknowledged that the U.S. Senate's October 13 rejection of the treaty was a "setback." Grey stressed, however, that President Clinton has made it "abundantly clear that the fight is not over" and that, in the end, Clinton is convinced the United States will ratify the CTBT.

Grey defended U.S. efforts to amend the 1972 ABM Treaty to permit deployment of a limited national missile defense (NMD). He argued that weapons of mass destruction and advanced delivery means had regrettably spread and concluded that "those who allowed it to happen should have known what the consequences would be."

Deflecting a Chinese charge that the United States exercises a "double standard towards arms control and disarmament agreements," Grey said four of the five nuclear-weapon states had reduced nuclear weapons holdings and increased transparency, while one state was modernizing its forces and not increasing transparency.

Hu gave a rebuttal the next week, arguing that for a country "always taking the lead" in developing nuclear weapons it was "hypocritical" to criticize others for modernizing arsenals. Hu challenged the United States to commit to a no-first-use policy, while warning that a U.S. NMD would "open the door to the weaponization of outer space."

The CD will break for a recess on March 24 and resume on May 22, following the April 24-May 19 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty five-year review conference.

Sparking a Buildup: U.S. Missile Defense and China's Nuclear Arsenal

Sparking a Buildup: U.S. Missile Defense and China's Nuclear Arsenal

by Charles Ferguson

Tables Accompanying Text

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Table 1: Additional Chinese ICBM Warheads, Based on Expected NMD Plans and Firing Doctrines (Rounded to the Nearest Warhead)

NMD Phase
Firing Doctrine C-1 (20-100 Interceptors) C-2 (100 Interceptors) C-3 (Up to 250 Interceptors)
Shoot-Look-Shoot 10-50 50 125
Barrage 5-25 25 63
Single Shot 20-100 100 250

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Table 2: Re-entry Vehicle (RV) Characteristics of American ICBMs

ICBM RV Yield [kt] (Warhead Type) Number of RVs Throw Weight [kg] RV Weight [kg]
MX/Peacekeeper 300-335 (W87) 10 3,950 200
Minuteman III 335 (W78);

170 (W62)

3 1,100 185
D-5/Trident II 475 (W88) 8 2,800 175
C-4/Trident I 100 (W76) 8 1,500 95
C-3/Poseidon<21> 40 (W68) 14 2,000 70
Sources: John R. Harvey and Stefan Michalowski, "Nuclear Weapons Safety: The Case of Trident," Science & Global Security, Volume 4, Issue 3 (1994), p. 288, in which they use throw-weight values from teh START Memorandum of Understanding to calculate RV weight by assuming that the bus that carries the RVs is about one half the throw weight. Some warhead yield values are from Rovert S. Norris and William M. Arkin, "U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces, End of 1997," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 1998, p. 71.

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Table 3: Upper Limits on Multiple Warheads for Chinese Solid-Fueled Missiles

Missile Throw Weight [kg] RVs for 175 kg

RV (W88 type)

RVs for 70 kg

RV (W68 type)

DF-21/JL-1 600 1 4
DF-31/JL-2 700 2 5
DF-41 800-1,000 2-3 5-7
Sources: Throw-weight estimates are from John Lewis and Hua Di, International Security, Fall 1992, p. 5-40, and Tracking and Nuclear Proliferation: A Guide in Maps and Charts, 1998, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, except for the upper bound on the DF-41 from the Federation of American Scientists.

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U.S.-Chinese Relations Strained Over Taiwan

Wade Boese

IN A MOVE that prompted U.S. warnings that any military action would cause "grave concern," Beijing issued a white paper February 21 expanding the circumstances under which it would use force to reunify Taiwan with China. Couched amid statements promoting peaceful reunification, Beijing's new threat caught U.S. officials off-guard because U.S.-Chinese relations had appeared to be on the mend after military ties between the two countries resumed in January. The timing of the paper precedes Taiwan's upcoming presidential election and follows the passage of pro-Taiwan legislation in the U.S. Congress.

Released by China's State Council just days after the visit of a high-level U.S. delegation, the white paper warned that China would use force if Taiwan indefinitely postponed reunification negotiations. In the past, China had threatened force only if Taiwan, which Beijing considers a part of China, declared independence or if a foreign power occupied the island. China did not attach a time frame to its new threat. According to a State Department official, China had previously stated in private that it would not wait indefinitely for reunification, but this was the first time China had explicitly linked that sentiment to the use of force.

However, Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen denied on February 29 that the white paper signaled a change in China's Taiwan policy and claimed the paper was aimed at "urging the Taiwan authorities to sit down to hold talks and negotiations." The white paper said China would do "its best" to achieve peaceful reunification and that force would be the "last choice made under compelled circumstances." China pledged that Taiwan would "enjoy a high degree of autonomy" after reunification and that troops and administrative personnel would not be "stationed" in Taiwan.

The white paper described Taiwan as the "most crucial and most sensitive" issue between the United States and China. While U.S. officials reiterated long-standing U.S. policy that the content of the cross-strait dialogue is a matter for the two parties involved, State Department spokesman James Rubin described the new formulation as "unhelpful" and "counterproductive." Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 and acknowledges Beijing's position that Taiwan is part of China.

U.S.-Chinese relations further deteriorated last May following NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, leading China to suspend relations with the U.S. military. With a January 25-26 visit by Chinese Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai to Washington, those ties were resumed. The two sides agreed on a tentative program for renewing high-level visits and confidence-building measures, such as talks to prevent incidents at sea.

Military Balance in the Strait

According to the white paper, no country that has diplomatic relations with China should provide arms to Taiwan. Specifically, China attacked the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed on February 1, as "gross interference" in China's internal affairs. The legislation mandates closer ties between the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries, including certification of direct secure communications, and administration reports to Congress on Taiwanese arms requests, the Chinese threat and U.S. contingency planning for the Asia-Pacific region.

President Clinton's advisors would recommend vetoing the legislation if necessary, though it is less provocative than a Senate version of the act that authorizes the president to make specific weapons, including theater missile defense (TMD) equipment, available to Taiwan. Administration officials contend the act would raise tensions and, ultimately, undermine Taiwan's security. The Senate, in which support for the act is tempered by senators who back granting China permanent normal trade relations in line with Beijing's pending World Trade Organization membership, has yet to act on either version of the bill.

According to a Defense Department official, the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries currently "conduct informal dialogue" and Taiwan receives U.S. training for "defense articles and services" supplied by the United States. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are governed by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act and the 1982 Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqué. The former calls on Washington to help Taiwan "maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," while the latter includes a U.S. pledge not to "carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan" and not to sell weapons qualitatively or quantitatively exceeding those supplied in years prior to 1982.

Taiwan's pending request for four advanced U.S. destroyers with Aegis combat systems, designed to counter missiles and aircraft, has angered Beijing, though China is gradually modernizing its own navy. During the second week of February, China received the first of two Russian-built Sovremennyy-class destroyers, which will be equipped with the supersonic, sea-skimming, anti-ship Sunburn missile.

A Defense Department spokesman commented on February 10 that "this is a good ship" but noted that the destroyer would "not significantly change the balance of power" in the strait. Last year, the Pentagon reported to Congress that in 2005 Taipei would still possess a "qualitative edge over Beijing in terms of significant weapons and equipment." A follow-up report is under review.

The possible future sale or sharing of U.S. TMD systems to Taiwan is China's primary concern. Washington has not decided whether to sell such systems, but Walter Slocombe, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, said he made clear in the recent talks with Xiong that TMD is an issue, in part, because of Chinese missile deployments across from Taiwan.

China fired missiles into the waters off the coast of Taiwan prior to the island's first popular presidential election in 1996. Release of the white paper may reflect a more measured attempt by China to weigh in on this year's March 18 presidential election, in which the three major candidates, one of which causes particular concern in Beijing, are running very close.

Russia, China Continue to Support CTBT

Despite its rejection by the U.S. Senate on October 13, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) received renewed support from Russian and Chinese officials in November. On November 17, Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced that he had signed a bill approving the CTBT and had submitted it to the Duma for ratification. A week later, in a November 25 interview with Xinhua News Service, Sha Zukang, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Department of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that despite the Senate vote, China had not changed its position on the test ban. According to Sha, the Chinese government is actively urging the National People's Congress to ratify the treaty quickly. Both Russia and China have been highly critical of the Senate's failure to ratify the treaty.

In the aftermath of the Senate vote, the Clinton administration has repeatedly stated that the United States remains committed to the terms of the CTBT, angering some Republicans who felt they had decisively killed the treaty. On November 2, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MI) asserted that the Senate's rejection of the treaty "serves to release the United States from any possible obligation as a signatory of the negotiated text of the treaty."

Stating that it was essential to continue dialogue on the CTBT, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced on November 10 that the administration was establishing a high-level task force "to work closely with the Senate on addressing the issues raised during the test ban debate." Details on the composition and goals of the task force are expected in January.

Mixed U.S. Signals on Israel-China Deal

A Russian-made aircraft destined for the Chinese military arrived in Israel October 25 to be outfitted with the Phalcon advanced airborne early-warning (AEW) radar system, eliciting contradictory reactions from the Clinton administration. While press reports indicated that the White House had raised concerns about the sale and other Israeli military transfers to China, the State Department publicly downplayed the deal.

In a November 12 press briefing State Department spokesman James Rubin said the U.S. government had "no reason to believe" that the Israeli radar contained any U.S.-controlled technology and therefore American law could not prohibit the sale. However, Rubin stressed that the U.S. regularly holds discussions with Israel on arms sales, particularly ones that involve "sophisticated technology."

Though receipt of the Israeli Phalcon radar system, which enables surveillance activities up to a range of 250 miles, will give China its first AEW capability, the benefit to the Chinese air force will be restricted by a number of practical factors, including the limited time that a single plane can be in service. Beijing will also have to train new crews to operate the plane and will be dependent upon Israel for future maintenance. The initial contract, signed in 1996, called for Israel to equip four Russian-manufactured IL-76 planes with the Phalcon radar, costing $250 million apiece, but Beijing may postpone radar installation on and delivery of the three remaining planes for budgetary reasons and to assess the performance of the first plane.

Israel and China have a history of arms deals and military cooperation dating back to 1979, including work on air-to-air missiles and China's latest indigenously built fighter aircraft, the J-10. On an October visit to Israel, Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian reportedly discussed Israeli upgrade of China's aging MiG-21 fleet.

Russia, China, U.S. Allies Condemn Senate Defeat of Treaty

THE SENATE'S REJECTION of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on October 13 (see story) drew a barrage of criticism from Russia and China, as well as from U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. Although Moscow and Beijing have indicated that they will continue to adhere to the CTBT, which they both signed in September 1996, pressures to resume nuclear testing may intensify in the absence of U.S. ratification. The nuclear weapons establishments in both countries have long opposed the CTBT, presumably because they are more dependent on nuclear testing than the United States, which has a sophisticated stockpile stewardship program.

Russian and Chinese Reactions

In an October 14 statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "We express our regret and serious concern about the Senate's refusal to ratify this treaty, at all stages of the development of which the U.S. Administration took the most active part and was the first to sign it. This decision delivers a serious blow to the entire system of agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, [e]specially to the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

One week before the Senate vote, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin had announced that the Russian government was in the process of finalizing its CTBT ratification documents for the Duma, the lower house of parliament. However, the Duma is unlikely to consider the treaty anytime soon, given its concern over the Senate vote and its need to complete action on START II, which was submitted more than four years ago. Parliamentary elections scheduled for December 1999 may also complicate efforts to make serious progress on CTBT ratification.

On October 14, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it "deeply regrets" the Senate's rejection of the CTBT, but ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue indicated that Beijing would continue to observe its moratorium on nuclear testing, which has been in effect since 1996, and would intensify its efforts to ratify the treaty.

Allied Reactions

Just days before the vote, French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made a highly unusual plea to the Senate not to reject the CTBT. "Failure to ratify the [CTBT] will be a failure in our struggle against proliferation. The stabilizing effect of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, extended in 1995, would be undermined. Disarmament negotiations would suffer," they wrote in an October 8 New York Times op-ed.

Such sentiment was echoed the day after the Senate vote. An aide to Chirac said, "The president expressed his dismay. This decision is a setback to the process of non-proliferation and disarmament." German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he was "deeply disappointed" by the vote and Defense Minister Rudolph Scharping called it an "absolutely wrong" decision. Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy stated, "A world accustomed to U.S. leadership in the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament can only be deeply disturbed by this turn of events, which will be welcomed by those who remain uncommitted to that cause."

George Robertson, the newly appointed secretary-general of NATO and former British defense minister, called the Senate action "very worrying."

"We've got to persuade the American Congress that this is in the interest, not just of international security, but also of the United States, and I hope that we can do that and this is not a permanent position," he said in an October 14 radio interview.

U.S. allies in Asia were equally disapproving of the Senate rejection, with strong criticism coming from the Japanese, South Korean and Philippine foreign ministries. "The adverse effects are inestimable…We had hoped for the U.S.'s leadership in nuclear disarmament and in preventing nuclear proliferation," said Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono. Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon called the U.S. vote "an enormous blow to all our efforts to make the world a safer place to live in."

Of particular concern was the potential reaction from South Asia, where the Senate vote weakens the Clinton administration's ability to persuade India and Pakistan to sign the CTBT and refrain from conducting further nuclear tests. But in an encouraging development before the vote, New Delhi hinted that it might be prepared to sign the treaty once its new parliament was in place. Brajesh Mishra, India's national security adviser, stated October 3, "Consensus is building in the country about our stand on the CTBT, and after the parliament meets, we will be in a position to take concrete steps." Moreover, one day after the vote, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh stated, "India will not stand in the way of entry into force of the CTBT." However, because the treaty cannot come into effect without U.S. ratification, much of the pressure on India and Pakistan to ratify has been lifted for the time being.

U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan Further Upset China

Wade Boese

WITH TENSIONS ACROSS the Taiwan Straits already heightened by the president of Taiwan's provocative statements, the United States announced $550 million in new arms sales to Taipei at the end of July. China, long-opposed to U.S. arms sales to the island, vehemently protested the proposed deals, and, on the same day, announced the testing of its latest ICBM, the Dong Feng-31. (See story.) Washington downplayed the Chinese reaction as unsurprising.

Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui touched off the latest round of cross-Straits warnings, threats, and military posturing July 9 when he said that China and Taiwan should conduct relations on a "state-to-state" basis, thereby challenging the decades-old "one China" policy, which holds that China and Taiwan are two parts of the same country and will eventually reunify. The ambiguous policy has allowed Washington to maintain distinct relations with Taipei while recognizing Beijing as the official government of China. China, which sees Taiwan as a renegade province and has long threatened to use force if it declares independence, immediately denounced Lee's remarks.

Washington, still working to repair Sino-U.S. relations following NATO's May 7 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, sought to quell the growing crisis by repeatedly stating that Taiwan's status could only be resolved by Beijing and Taipei and that U.S. policy remained unchanged. U.S. government spokespersons have repeatedly said that any use of force would be of "grave concern."

Despite efforts to stay above the fray, the United States found itself further embroiled in the dispute after the Pentagon announced proposed sales of combat aircraft spare parts and two E-2T Hawkeye early-warning aircraft to Taiwan on July 30 and 31. The 1976 Arms Export Control Act requires that Congress be notified of all "major defense equipment" sales valued at $14 million or more.

Two days later, China's Vice-Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi warned a senior U.S. diplomat against the "seriousness and danger" of continued arms sales to Taiwan. Yang charged the United States with yet again violating the August 1982 Sino-U.S. communiqué, under which President Ronald Reagan pledged that the United States would not "carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan," and would "not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those [arms] supplied in recent years." During the 1990s alone, the Pentagon has delivered more than $12.7 billion in weapons to Taiwan in comparison with $3.6 billion supplied between 1950 and 1988.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin also reportedly sent a letter to President Clinton calling for a cessation of all U.S.-Taiwan arms sales.

On August 2 State Department spokesman James Rubin defended the latest sales as being in line with commitments under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the United States to supply Taiwan with weapons necessary for maintaining "a sufficient self-defense capability." Rubin dismissed the Chinese reaction as "common and expected."

While it condemned Taiwanese arms buys, unconfirmed reports surfaced throughout July and August that Beijing had reached a $2 billion agreement to purchase 50 to 60 Russian Su-30MKK fighter-bombers. These fighters would give China an enhanced ground-attack capability and compliment the 48 Su-27CK air superiority fighters already acquired from Moscow. Beijing also has a license to co-produce another 200 Su-27s.

A February 1999 Pentagon report estimated that by 2005 China will possess 2,200 tactical fighter aircraft, 500 ground attack aircraft and 400 bombers, though most will be older second- and third-generation planes. Taiwan, on the other hand, will have more than 300 fourth-generation fighters, including 150 U.S. F-16A/B fighters, 60 French Mirage 2000-5s and 130 Indigenous Defense Fighters. The Pentagon concluded that in 2005 Taipei will still have a "qualitative edge over Beijing in terms of significant weapons and equipment."

Congress Gets Into the Act

Amid the growing discord, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—chaired by stalwart Taiwan supporter Jesse Helms (R-NC)—held an August 4 hearing on the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, which would authorize the United States to supply Taiwan with theater missile defense (TMD) equipment, advanced air-to-air missiles, diesel submarines and anti-submarine weapons. All have been on Taiwan's annual shopping list for years, but the administration has refused to export these weapons because they are not strictly "defensive."

Helms, a co-sponsor of the act, said Washington's need to enhance its defense relationship with Taiwan "is obvious." However, his committee counterpart, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), said passage of the act would "be the equivalent of waving a red cape in front of Beijing." Rubin, speaking prior to the hearing, stated the administration's opposition to the legislation.

On August 18, Taiwanese officials expressed interest in U.S.-led regional TMD plans, though they have yet to formally notify Washington of any desire to participate in the proposed program. China, which fired missiles into the waters off Taiwan in 1996 and is suspected of currently deploying some 100 missiles across from the island, has repeatedly warned that Taiwan's inclusion in a TMD program would infringe on China's sovereignty and possibly spark a new arms race. For its part, Washington has not ruled out future sales of TMD systems to Taiwan.

Tensions appeared to be waning by the end of August, and one State Department official said there have not been any "extraordinary activities." President Clinton and President Jiang will likely meet September 12-13 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Auckland, New Zealand.

Chinese Strategic Plans Move Forward With Missile Test

Howard Diamond

CHINA'S STRATEGIC MODERNIZATION plans took an important step forward August 2 with the first successful flight test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), known as the Dong Feng (DF)-31. The 8,000-kilometer-range, three-stage, solid-fuel missile had previously undergone only static tests. The test flight, reportedly covering the 2,000 kilometers from Wuzhai (Shanxi Province) to Lop Nor (Xinjiang Province), was announced in a one-sentence press release from China's official Xinhua news agency.

According to John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists, the missile has had several engine tests on the ground. The first test in April 1992 and the second test were both failures ending in explosions, Pike said. However, six successful tests have followed since, including a soft-launch ejection, or "tube" test. According to Stanford scholars John Wilson Lewis and Hua Di, China has been working on the DF-31 since January 1985 and plans on modifying it for use as the Julang (JL)-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Beijing has already used this method to deploy the twin 1,800-kilometer-range, land-based DF-21 and submarine-based JL-1.

With an estimated payload of 700 kilograms, the DF-31 could be used to deliver multiple warheads if China were to develop light-weight nuclear devices. A select congressional committee led by Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA) reported in May that China had stolen design information on the advanced U.S. W-88 warhead and that it would probably "exploit elements of...stolen U.S. thermonuclear weapons designs on its new ICBMs currently under development." The Cox panel's report said that with a 1999 flight test the DF-31 could be deployed by 2002.

An intelligence community damage assessment prompted by the Cox Report judged that "China has had the technical capability to develop a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV)...for many years but has not done so." The assessment also concluded that "U.S. information acquired by the Chinese could help the development of a MIRV for a future mobile missile."

But a U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity said, "We still judge [the DF-31] to be a one-warhead missile; the Chinese haven't made the technical strides needed to MIRV it."

Defense Department spokesman Ken Bacon said on August 3 that there was no evidence that the Chinese missile employed any stolen U.S. technology. Bacon said that, depending on the numbers deployed, the DF-31 "does not give them a significantly enhanced military capability."

If deployed in eastern China, the DF-31 would be able to reach significant portions of the western United States. Analysts, however, believe the mobile DF-31 is meant to replace China's current force of 20 liquid-fueled, 4,750-kilometer-range DF-4s, which are thought to be targeted at Russia, India and U.S. bases in the Pacific.

Coming amid growing tensions between China and Taiwan, and prominent efforts by the United States, Japan and South Korea to prevent North Korea from testing a new long-range missile, State Department spokesman James Rubin sought to downplay the test flight's significance. Explaining that Washington had anticipated the launch for some time, Rubin said on August 3, "China already has long-range missiles, and therefore the fact that they've tested a new missile is not a dramatic new development that requires massive effort and diplomacy to try to deter." Rubin also noted, "We do not have any basis to conclude that the timing of the launch is linked to the issues with Taiwan."


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