STEPHEN YATES: High-level visits to
Beijing earlier this month by Undersecretary of State for Security
and Arms Control John Holum and Secretary of Defense William Cohen
signal the resumption of official dialogue with China's military
and security establishment. Is this a good sign? What are the
objectives of this strategic dialogue? How does such a dialogue
serve American interests?
believe that this is a topic in which we can have some influence
over what is possible, practical, and advisable as we move forward
in a relationship with China's military. Military relations with a
country that is a potential threat to the United States draw a lot
of controversy by their very nature but also under certain
circumstances may be very necessary.
few months, there will be a new administration coming into office.
No matter which way the election goes, there will be a new team
facing some of these similar questions: How, under what
circumstances, to what extent should we have relations with China's
military? What is the purpose of these relations? What should the
Chinese see? What should we see? How should this relationship be
There are a lot of very basic questions
that will be confronting policymakers in a new administration. In
the interests of helping pave the way for a new administration to
be able to hit the ground running, we would like to get three
different perspectives on this question.
Santoli has an extensive and multifaceted background, from veteran
of the Vietnam War, to journalist, to Pulitzer Prize-nominated
author, to being a distinguished staff member on Capitol Hill
working for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). He also is the
editor of the China Reform Monitor,
published by the American Foreign Policy Council. I believe that Al
can give us ample coverage of Capitol Hill's role in oversight and
in articulating American interest in this relationship.
Randy Schriver formerly served in the
office of the Secretary of Defense as a country director for the
PRC and has experience in looking at what the Pentagon's interests
were in moving forward with this kind of a relationship in the
past. He is currently serving as a visiting fellow at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies and is an independent
consultant at Armitage Associates.
Larry Wortzel, the Director of our Asian Studies Center, twice
served the U.S. Army in China--first as the Assistant Army
Attaché and second as the Army Attaché. Larry can
help enlighten our thinking on what has worked on the ground on
that end in this military-to-military relationship and offer advice
on how this kind of relationship should proceed.
Obviously, each of our panelists has a
personal opinion on this issue, and we'd like to hear any advice
they might have on answering some of these fundamental questions on
the scope and nature of this relationship as a new administration
Stephen J. Yates is a former Senior Policy
Analyst in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage
AL SANTOLI: This is a very timely
discussion as the United States is in the wake of a visit to
Beijing by Secretary Cohen, who has re-initiated
military-to-military contacts. We on Capitol Hill are still waiting
to see what types of programs are being planned over the coming
months. I would say, in addition to Stephen's perspective on an
incoming U.S. administration, we from the oversight position on
Capitol Hill also have to be mindful of what types of contacts and
exchanges are being planned over the next four months before this
administration leaves office.
a little background in terms of the involvement of the Congress and
its concern, or selected Members' concern, regarding this program.
We did not know about it in great detail until we got wind of the
game plan for the year 1999. Of course, during the course of that
year, after the incidents in Belgrade, the program was
what got our concern was the number of exchanges of Chinese
military personnel attending seminars, observing exercises, or
visiting locations where critical tactical functions that would
enhance their military modernization were taking place. The access
they would have to American experts that would help facilitate
their modernization was all against the backdrop of tensions rising
in the Taiwan Strait and the direct threat not only to our
democratic friends in Taiwan, but also to U.S. military personnel
who would have to respond to a military crisis in the Strait. That
was our primary concern: our allies and also, most important, the
lives of our own service members.
There is a factor that has developed since
then that makes it more difficult when assessing China's military
capabilities. China is now integrating acquired technologies from
Russia into their various systems. It seems a steady stream of new
military technology agreements between the Russians and the
Chinese, including talks of a lease program where certain critical
technologies, aircraft, and weapon systems could be acquired by the
Chinese, would enable the Chinese to obtain equipment and
technologies in a more timely fashion.
some U.S. experts would say, "Well, sure, the Chinese military is
acquiring these technologies, but it will take them time to
integrate these new technologies, or they don't know how to
integrate these systems. Therefore, we have a window of time before
we need to be concerned of the modernization posing a real threat
to the United States and its allies." Because of the level of
knowledge that the Chinese would gain from these exchange programs,
there was the danger in 1999 that the window of time for
proficiency and integration of these technologies into their system
was going to be reduced.
give you an example, and this underscores the danger of
private-sector involvement in these exchanges. The last exchange
before the bombing of the embassy in Belgrade was a Chinese
delegation that was brought here in a DOD private-sector
partnership program to look at operations in civilian air space,
operations out of remote air fields, and attack and remote air
traffic control systems.
of the companies involved had economic interests in China and were
hoping that access to certain programs, an introduction to certain
dual-use technologies that dealt with air traffic control, would
enhance their ability to gain an economic incentive or a leg up on
their competitors in China. I am sure, as we look at what actually
transpired during this program, that the Chinese military used this
desire of U.S. commercial entities to put pressure on our people in
DOD to gain access to things that directly involved war-fighting
capabilities. We can see this motive through the deceptive nature
of the way that the personnel from China were introduced or
identified in some documents as "Mister" rather than "Senior
on all levels, there was something rotten in Denmark with this
entire process. I have with me a copy of the briefing papers that
the Chinese delegation received while visiting Luke Air Base and
Edwards Air Base in California. At Luke, the briefing papers range
from information about flights of F-16s from Luke in Arizona, to
low-level training flights, to bombing ranges, to in-flight
refueling, to a cross-country flight to an MOA, to IFR [instrument
flight rules] practice approaches, to a civilian airport, to the
of these discussions involved the integration of AWACS and
in-flight refueling, and for those not familiar with the Chinese
military, they are now trying to develop that capability and
perfect their capacity for long-range flights. Discussions on TACAN
[tactical aircraft navigation] systems are fine in terms that they
are not on restricted lists; they are civilian technologies,
dual-use technologies. But then there were discussions on combat
readiness, stateside training in terms of using civilian airfields
with air traffic control.
recent weeks, for those of us who have been looking at the
preparations in the Nanjing military region for possible aggression
against Taiwan, the integration of civilian facilities and
infrastructure is essential, and there have been numerous articles
in the Chinese military and civilian newspapers underscoring the
importance of utilizing civilian facilities. This type of exchange
on the TACANs at Luke Air Base and at Edwards Air Base, as far as
one can discern, gives them direct knowledge in how to better
integrate the use of civilian infrastructure for combat missions.
If you consider that from Fujian and some of the coastal air bases
to Taipei is somewhere around 100 miles, this directly fits into
the tactical needs that they would have.
Also, when you look at their access to our
Navy, it is the same thing. Civilian infrastructure, such as the
COSCO shipping line to civilian ports run by Hutchison Whampoa in
Southern China, and other civilian transports and cargo ships, can
be used for troops, for fire support, and intelligence collection.
We have to be extremely mindful when involving Chinese delegations
in any types of air-naval exchanges to make sure that there is
nothing they could gain that would give them a tactical advantage
in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, or, as they are
developing a stronger relationship with Burma, along the coast of
the Andaman Sea and the Malacca Straits.
Speaking of Burma--and this again ties
directly into our concerns about the 1999 game plan for
exchanges--there was a series of open-source articles a couple of
weeks ago talking about a military joint exercise in Burma with the
PLA and the Burmese military that would involve airborne forces,
seaborne forces, and ground logistics.
of the things that were strongly requested by the PLA in 1999 was
to watch U.S. 82nd Airborne forces conduct exercises. In fact, we
also learned that they wanted more than just to sit in the
bleachers and watch them come out of the airplanes; they also
wanted more hands-on involvement during the course of the exercise.
Again, if you look at their writings, not only for participating in
exercises in Burma, but in terms of their preparatory exercises for
any aggression against Taiwan, airborne forces are a big part of
Also, there is more and more writing now
by the Chinese military on the special operations capacity of
special forces, including naval and army special forces. Once
again, some of the exchanges game plan of 1999 was the interaction
of our special forces with visitors from China; and because of the
whole range of tactical interaction that many in Congress felt
would benefit the PLA while returning little to no benefit to the
U.S. military, we had strong opposition--and we retain that strong
opposition--to any future exchange programs.
Another area that right now is critical in
terms of development of Chinese military operations, whether it is
internal or abroad, is logistics. The 1999 game plan included a
number of visits to very sophisticated high-level American
logistical bases, seminars, and interaction among experts. Because
technologies are now being delivered to China by the Russians, we
have to be very careful about how much logistical contact we have
in terms of helping them become more proficient in this area.
action that Congress will probably take--I know that Congressman
Rohrabacher is going to have a letter to the Secretary of Defense
within the next couple of weeks--is to scrutinize any game plan
that is being made for military exchanges during the coming months,
the next six months. It is something we feel we have to watch very
carefully because there has been a cavalier attitude by both the
civilian and military planners, and whether there will be any
crisis in Taiwan during that period is immaterial.
have to think in the long term and make sure we are not supporting
any type of aggression because of the kinds of knowledge that the
other side will benefit from in these exchanges.
RANDY SCHRIVER: I want to
congratulate Steve and Heritage for putting on this forum. It
struck me, as I sat down to think about what I wanted to say, that
I've been around just long enough to see several swings in the
relationship, several ups and downs; and it seems to me the way
that the administration approached these is, in down time, you
planned your next step, created your lists, got everything in queue
just waiting for the opportunity to resume things without ever
stepping back and fundamentally reassessing these very important
think this is an excellent forum. It's a privilege to address this
topic before such a distinguished group.
want to talk, number one, about the Clinton Administration's
policies and approach toward China; for the purposes of discussion,
it is important to get this out there. Second, I want to address
what I think worked well and what didn't; third, what I think the
major difficulties and challenges are for the next steps; and
fourth, try to answer as directly as I can the question posed: What
should be the proper scope and purpose of the military
relationship? And I want to speak both to substance and
First of all, with regard to the
Administration's policy, I do support conducting a military
relationship with the Chinese, and I think it is very important. In
terms of the objectives, on paper, what the Administration has
tried to do with China is right on the mark for the most part. DOD
is not only supporting the Administration's engagement efforts
overall, but I believe there are institutional parochial objectives
that are important for U.S. security interests.
think the primary objective is to establish clear lines of
communication between senior leaders, and I think this is just a
matter of faith. I believe dialogue is good. I believe it is
helpful. It reduces the chances of miscommunication and
miscalculation. The quality of dialogue has been uneven, but on
balance I think it has been good.
second objective has been to pursue meaningful confidence-building
measures in the operational realm. What I mean by meaningful is
actually doing things that will increase the safety of your own
military operations. If it is becoming increasingly dangerous to
operate in proximity to one another, I think it is important to
take steps to address that.
third objective has been to demonstrate U.S. capabilities in the
event that the relationship goes in the direction that no one
wants, towards an adversarial one. Arguably, it is important that
the Chinese know what can be brought to bear upon the situation,
and this is what the Administration hopes would be a deterrent
Fourth, through the military contacts, the
Administration hopes to have a window on PLA modernization as it
unfolds. This is something Larry will probably talk much more
about, but through the contacts and exchanges, it is hoped that you
get a picture of what is happening within the PLA during this
important period of their modernization.
Fifth, there is the hope that you can
shape, at least on the margins--these aren't grand
expectations--PRC behavior and try to influence it to become a more
constructive participant in regional affairs.
Finally, encouraging PLA participation in
regional fora will reduce not only their own anxieties about what
is happening if they don't participate in what the United States is
doing with allies and others in the region, but force them to think
about issues through a regional perspective rather than
bilateralize everything, which is what they tend to want to do.
way the Administration pursues this is through a four-pillar
strategy: high-level visits, professional and functional exchanges,
confidence-building activities, and multilateral fora.
me get into what I think works, what has been successful and what
hasn't. I believe the dialogue at the senior level has been on
balance helpful. It is obviously a mixed bag; some things have not
been as good. But there should be no confusion. This isn't real
dialogue; these aren't real exchanges; they are not real
discussions. This is an exchange of talking points. It's an
exchange of "here is what we think about something" and "here's
what they think about something." But just in doing that, there is
think some of the results we have seen in North Korea have been a
result of us pounding away at issues that we were concerned about,
and issues that the Chinese had a hand in. I think subtly they were
able to work behind the scenes to create some outcomes that were
favorable to us, no doubt because they saw it to be in their own
interest. I am not saying this is a favor to us in any way; but in
this regard, the dialogue was helpful.
think the confidence-building measures have been relatively
successful, in particular the Military Maritime Cooperative
Agreement. This is an agreement we pursued after a near accident on
the high seas in which we felt it was advantageous to have a
dialogue, at least to talk about safety issues, rules of the road,
communication protocols, so that as the PLA modernized,
particularly the PLA Navy, and operated further and further from
its own shores, the chance of bumping into one another and creating
an accident that escalated into something nobody wanted would be
think the multilateral fora have been on balance effective, if for
no other reason so that they understand what it is we talk about
with other countries, both friends and others, in multilateral
settings. I think it is by and large positive to have the PLA
participate in that.
would say that we haven't necessarily shaped their behavior, but we
have shaped their impressions in some positive ways, particularly
within the younger generation PLA. When you see them come to the
United States and experience things--not so much the military
facilities they visit, but just American culture and American
society--you can literally see a lot of their preconceived notions
about the United States being stripped away before your eyes. I
think this is actually beneficial.
think there are some notable weaknesses and some failures in this
approach as well. Going back to that list of objectives, having a
window on the modernization has failed miserably. We've had
problems in terms of gaining access. Trying to pound away at
reciprocity on these exchanges of delegations has been another
failure. It strikes at the core of the Chinese concept of
deterrence, which isn't ours. Ours is "Here is everything we have,
and here's how we can hurt you in so many different ways." The
Chinese concept is "You have no idea of what we have, and you have
no idea either how bad or how good we are," and that's their
deterrent effect. They are not going to open up, and I think only
marginal benefit has come through these exchanges in terms of
having a window on modernization.
terms of shaping behavior, I think it has failed not only at
tactical levels, but at strategic levels as well. If anything, I
think our exchanges with the Chinese have shaped our own behavior
and policies more dramatically.
saw a great quote about George Shultz from Jim Mann's book that I
think captured this thought. What he said is that when the
geostrategic importance of China became the conceptual prism
through which Sino-American relations were viewed, it was almost
inevitable that American policymakers became oversolicitous of
Chinese interests, concerns, and sensitivities. As a result, much
of the history of Sino-American relations since normalization could
be described as a series of Chinese-defined obstacles, such as
Taiwan, tech transfer, and trade, that the United States has been
asked to overcome in order to preserve the overall relationship.
This is what I observed firsthand in our dealings with the PLA.
They set the agenda, and the agenda was mostly about obstacles and
problems that they have.
think deterrence has also not been extremely effective. If
anything, it has whetted their appetite. They talk about American
power, American capabilities, but on balance what it has truly done
is help them incorporate the American factor into their planning,
their doctrine, and their strategy, particularly when related to
that's where I think we've done well and where we haven't done
well. As we go forward, there are significant challenges in front
Number one, there continue to be clashing
institutional objectives. I outlined what the Clinton
Administration's and DOD's objectives were. The Chinese have their
own set, and they are very much at odds with what the Americans are
interested in. On top of that list is technology transfer, gaining
know-how, et cetera, and they approach every one of these exchanges
ruthlessly to try to find that angle. Out of everything they do
with us, they want to extract that angle.
Number two, there is an increasingly
divergent view on regional security and what are the keys to
stability. The Chinese have said openly in a defense white paper
about wanting U.S. forces out of the region and an end to bilateral
alliances. The United States says clearly that their regional
security strategy is underpinned by U.S. forward-deployed forces
and sustaining their bilateral alliances. I don't think you have to
go much further than that to realize that when you are headed in
two different directions and are increasingly diverging, you are
going to be pretty far apart as time unfolds. I think that is a
Third is a lack of discipline on the U.S.
side. Our engagement has been extremely inconsistent, the result of
a diffuse and noncentralized system of planning and implementation.
The Chinese are very good at identifying who the ardent suitors are
in our system and gearing their relationship toward these
Fourth is the extremely poor communication
that has existed between the Administration and the Congress, and
I've got to say I was very disappointed to hear Al describe how
difficult it is for you to get information from the Administration
on these contacts.
used to hand over the list of proposed contacts well before we ever
shared it with the Chinese, and I asked for inputs. I felt it was a
more collaborative approach. Congressional staff used to tell me
point-blank what the things were that raised concerns, and I took
them out or said, "Give me another chance to give you some more
information why I think this one is important." More often than
not, I took it out, and I think they identified some good areas,
logistics and communications, that I just don't see any reason
important, I think that given these observations, a
military-to-military relationship in the future should be very
limited in scope. It should be more focused on high-level dialogue,
some limited confidence-building measures where there is real
payoff; the Military Maritime Cooperative Agreement is one of these
areas, and some limited-participation multilateral fora.
would like to see more efforts to bring younger Chinese officers
over to the United States not to do military things. I wouldn't
even bother to bring them to a military facility; rather, I think
exposing them to American culture and society in the long run is a
think there needs to be strict adherence to a set of parameters. No
contacts that contribute substantially to offensive capabilities
should be made until they renounce the use of force against Taiwan,
or until the point where we are much more comfortable with what
their strategy and intentions are.
There should be no military contacts that
can't stand the light of day. This should not be a relationship
conducted in secrecy or in an opaque way. This should be very open
and public, and this probably has some implications for the kind of
contacts you can have.
Professional exchange where we derive
concrete benefits and a window on their modernization is not
enough. What they learn from our logistics systems versus what we
learn is not a good trade.
There are some modest areas--military
medicine, for example--where we can actually derive benefit from an
exchange with the Chinese. The Chinese do things we don't--for
example, high-altitude medicine in Tibet. There are some infectious
diseases they deal with in some of the areas they train in that we
don't deal with.
also need strong, ruthless centralized management of the
military-to-military relationship. We used to have a memo. We
called it the Al Haig memo because it said "we are in charge" at
OSD. But the truth is, we weren't always in charge. It requires
very senior-level attention, ASD or higher, to get into the
minutiae, to be in the weeds on the military-to-military
relationship with China, and to make sure that there are
consequences within the military, within the JCS PACOM, for not
adhering to the guidelines set forth by the Secretary.
Finally, this has to be done with
Congress, not in a manner playing against Congress. Again, if there
is a way to do this in a collaborative approach, I think Congress
should be written into the process of how we determine the game
plan. There should be feedback and a mechanism for the Congress to
say "These are the things we don't like; take it out or explain it
to us better." I think that would help the process
LARRY WORTZEL: I want to try to
explain what it is like to be on the receiving end of Randy's tight
control and the fire hose of every general and admiral who wants to
have some Peking duck, walk on the Great Wall, fly an SU-27, or
stand on the bridge of Chinese destroyer, because the expectations
of these senior U.S. military officers create a little bit of
the field, people are really trying to do a hard job as a military
attaché and actually represent United States policies as
written in the national military strategy and national security
strategy. At the same time, as a military attaché, I had to
act as the eyes on the ground: to observe, collect legally, and
report on developments in the Chinese military. That's what
diplomats and military attachés do, and it is very
interesting. But there was always a stream of generals that wanted
Peking duck and would discuss just about anything to get it.
is the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2000,
Title 7, Subtitle A, Section 1201, that restricted what the
Department of Defense can do with the Chinese military. These
restrictions are the best thing that ever could have happened as
far as I am concerned. I thought it was superb legislation that was
absolutely necessary in a sense because of this "ardent suitor"
problem that Randy talked about.
"Ardent suitor" is a great description.
Everybody has, at one time or another, been in love with or sought
after something or someone to where you would do anything to get
closer, nearer to that object of desire, and then that person or
thing would set the terms of how you would relate to it, move the
goal post, move a little further away. You'd go a little closer,
give more gifts, put out some more puppy chow, you name it.
sense, that is what went on and goes on--the ardent suitor simply
forgets the United States national interest and seeks contact with
China under China's terms. A certain romanticism enters into
U.S.-China relations. Even the use of the term "relationship"
belies this, as though the articulation of national interest was
about When Harry Met Sally . We must
avoid this romanticism and focus on the national interest.
through military-to-military contacts with China, we did learn some
things. I want to address this issue of the 82nd Airborne Division.
When I was in China the first time, before the Tiananmen Square
massacre, things were great. The United States was selling the
Chinese technology and equipment. The Chinese military, for its
part, was very up-front about what they wanted from America.
Military contacts with the United States had one purpose for them,
and that was gaining new military technology. They told us
the United States was very up-front. The United States told the
Chinese military that "We are happy to sell equipment to you. We
don't care if you put it on the Soviet border because we don't like
the Soviets, or if you put it on the Vietnamese border because we
don't much like them either, just as long as you shoot it at
Russians and Vietnamese." That was the deal.
Under these conditions, when things were
going well, you could walk in and say, "I'd really like to jump out
of one of your airborne division's airplanes with a rifle squad or
an airborne squad and see how good your people are." And I did,
just like that, spend a couple of days down there. This provided
some real insight into how well the People's Liberation Army's
airborne forces are trained--and they are very well-trained--as
well as how they do their equipment checks. These were wonderful
leaders of the Chinese military came to the United States and
stated, "We'd sure like to see an airborne mass tactical parachute
jump." "That's fine," the Department of Defense said. "We'll show
it to you." However, that was a different time. Then we were happy
to show it to them because we thought maybe they would use whatever
they learned somewhere against the Soviets. Times change. There was
Tiananmen, and the Soviet Union collapsed. Things are different
address what I would call the dumb things related to romanticism
that go on underneath this strategic relationship, it is to prevent
these excesses of romanticism that Al Santoli needed to help draft
the legislation and Randy Schriver needed what he described as "the
Al Haig memo" (a reference to Secretary Haig's statement "I'm in
charge" after the shooting of President Ronald Reagan), the memo
from the Office of the Secretary of Defense that places that office
in charge of all U.S.-China military-to-military contacts.
four-star general came out to China some years ago and decided he
was going to hand out "candy" to turn the Chinese into great
friends. To do this, he gave the PLA the simulation and software
for how to run a brigade and division integrated attack. At that
time, I was only a major in the Army. I would sit down and say,
"General, this really isn't a good thing. You just don't want to do
this." But he did what he wanted, based on some romantic view of
making the PLA over along American lines.
About nine years later, I visited their
army command college, and there's that software, simulating attacks
across the Taiwan Strait modified and improved by the PLA. Folks,
we don't want to make the PLA more effective, especially against
another time, I escorted another delegation that was very useful.
We were sitting down at the U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine
Command, and one of the Chinese generals, who had never been to the
U.S. before, pulls out a list of 19 field manuals. After a long
discourse on Sino-U.S. friendship, including an invitation to the
U.S. general to visit Beijing to see the Great Wall, he says to the
host, "What's the chance of getting these field manuals?" He hands
the list of what he wants to the American general, who says, "Oh,
no problem, we will take care of it."
said, "General, can I look at that?" What the PLA officer had
requested were U.S. manuals on electronic warfare, electronic
countermeasures and countermeasure evasion, and information
operations. I asked the Chinese officer how the list was compiled,
and he said that these were the only manuals he couldn't get off
of course, the American general ordered somebody to get the manuals
and hand them over to the Chinese guest. I stopped him and I said,
"No, you don't want to do this, General. If you want to do
anything, send them to me in China and I will exchange them one for
one if the PLA comes up with similar manuals. But do not give it to
of the reason U.S. military leaders give away too much is
naiveté, not disloyalty. Part of the explanation for such
actions is this romantic sense of wanting to give China something
in the hopes of developing a friendship. But people do really dumb
Another interesting example of American
naiveté was in responding to the PLA orders for parts when
the U.S. Department of Defense sold them artillery-locating radars.
The lowest parts use rate in a TPQ-37 artillery-locating radar
worldwide, regardless of climate, were the cathode ray tubes and
map drums. The Chinese, however, were ordering cathode ray tubes at
an extraordinary rate, and the U.S. Army was sending them in
response to the orders. A year later, the PLA remanufactured or
reverse-engineered the AN/TPQ-37 and manufactured a version of it,
the Type 704 radar, that they sell to Libya and Pakistan and Iran
and Iraq. Sitting by and watching this happen was patently dumb.
Any program with the PLA requires good oversight.
senior U.S. officers argue that there is great deterrence in
transparency. They seem to believe that if the U.S. military shows
China everything it has, deterrence will be enhanced. My response
to that concept is that the United States showed the PLA everything
it needed to see about the quality of American power and deterrence
in the Gulf War. The United States also did a pretty decent job of
showing the PLA how the U.S. military works in Sudan and
Afghanistan where factories associated with Osama bin Laden were
attacked. The U.S. didn't do a bad job showing the PLA a little
deterrence when U.S. ships struck Iraqi radar sites with Tomahawk
missiles from 1,500 miles away.
don't have to show the PLA Navy exactly how a U.S. ship works to
demonstrate deterrence. And if you choose to let the PLA Navy visit
the ship, you don't need to explain how to construct or operate
disagreement with military-to-military contacts as I saw them
conducted was that the admirals, with all due respect, show the PLA
Navy how things work and then tell the PLA how to make their own
operations more efficient. American military officers tend to look
at something and, if they perceive it to be wrong, suggest how to
make it better. This is a colossal mistake. The U.S. has no
business making the Chinese People's Liberation Army a more
effective fighting force or improving its weaponry.
Other parts of transparency that Randy
talked about are inviting PLA officers to see U.S. military
exercises. I believe that the U.S. should insist on reciprocity but
should also decide what is in the national interest. In 1988, I
brought a major general, the director of the PLA operations
department, to the U.S. to visit Fort Benning and Fort Bragg. This
was a time when Sino-U.S. relations were oriented on the Soviet
threat. We showed him how things worked, and he showed us a few
things in return back in China. After 1989, however, because the
U.S. suspended military programs with China, he showed us
1997, there was another PLA visit to the U.S. This time, the
Chinese leaders only viewed open public events. We showed him Fort
Benning, Georgia's Airborne 5000, a demonstration that goes on
publicly for everybody, and the Victory Pond Ranger demonstration.
Personally, I think that's fair. I have been to the 6th Tank
Division of the People's Liberation Army so many times that I have
my own drinking cup. They know me. I know them.
guy who was the operations officer when I first went there is now
the division commander. He laughs, we drink, he shows the U.S.
nothing, and that's the end of it. The PLA should be treated the
same way unless there is some clear benefit to the U.S. for doing
don't know how many might be familiar with Colonel David Barrett, a
former U.S. military attaché to China and the Dixie Mission.
If you follow what went on with the Office of Strategic Services
(OSS) in 1944 when the OSS went up to deal with the Communists, one
could say that Barrett was a little bit sympathetic to the
Communist cause. He thought they were less corrupt as a military
force than the Nationalists and better led.
decided a good idea would be to turn the Communists into allies,
arm them as best you can, and use them against the Japanese. He
perhaps exceeded his orders and may have forgotten that after the
war was about over, the Communists would go on to prosecute their
civil war. The U.S. commander in China, General [Albert C.]
Wedemeyer, relieved him. But its not that Barrett was disloyal to
the U.S. He had a romantic view of what the Communists might do if
they were in power.
Today, a very strange American tendency is
that when military staffs prepare an engagement plan on how the
U.S. military should engage with foreign militaries--this is a real
engagement plan at a major command--it's a mechanical thing. It
doesn't necessarily distinguish between friends and allies and
same person who approaches the engagement plan for Malaysia, for
instance, with the idea of improving the efficiency of the
Malaysian armed forces, or the South Koreans, who are our allies,
often does the China plan. And in working on a mechanism for
military contacts with China, the same guy does the engagement plan
with the same approach. The objective becomes making the PLA better
so that perhaps the U.S. and China can be ready to fight alongside
each other. This is a huge error.
Right now, the PLA is more likely to crush
democratic activists than threats to the peace and stability of the
world. So, like Randy, I come down to a few simple criteria for
military relations with the Chinese armed forces: Do nothing to
improve the PLA's capability to wage war against Taiwan or U.S.
friends and allies, do nothing to improve the PLA's ability to
project force, and do nothing to improve the PLA's ability to
further repress the Chinese people--three simple criteria. It
leaves a lot of room for things to do, and I think things do need
to be done.
Secretary of Defense William Cohen just
made a trip to China. On this trip, he just about hit everything
that I recommended in the Heritage Backgrounder from November 1999 concerning
his agenda. I think Secretary Cohen could have been more forceful
in defense of the American press in his response to a question at
the National Defense University, but he hit the major points on
U.S.-China military relations the right way.
closing, when my friend Bates Gill testified a couple of weeks ago
in front of the House Armed Services Committee, he had a great
throwaway line about all the Chinese arms purchases from the
Russians. He said you could give him a $5,000 set of golf clubs,
and that doesn't make him Tiger Woods because he doesn't know how
to use them. Thus, the clubs are of no intrinsic value.
it was a debate instead of testimony, and I could have responded to
Bates. I'd have said, "Bates, if the club was made with a sensor so
that the sweet spot always hit the ball no matter what you did, and
the ball had a sensor that could detect the signature of the hole
and always go in the hole, you don't have to be Tiger Woods." I'll
leave it at that.
STEPHEN YATES: Thank you, Larry,
and thanks to Al Santoli and Randy Schriver for joining us today to
address this very important topic. We've benefited greatly from
your willingness to share your experience and perspective.
the perspective of congressional oversight, Defense Department
management, and embassy implementation, it is clear that we have a
long way to go in setting proper parameters for the conduct of
military-to-military exchanges with China. The concerns and
recommendations offered by each of our panelists merit the careful
consideration of those in our government charged with carrying out