CHINESE MILITARY EXPANSION AND UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY (Senate - July 09, 1997)

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Mr. ASHCROFT. Mr. President, no one did more to bring peace and prosperity in our time than our 40th President, Ronald Reagan. President Reagan's economic and foreign policies gave us the longest peacetime expansion in our history and, indeed, did fulfill an ambition of this country to make the world safe again for democracy. But more than that, Ronald Reagan called us to our highest and best; we never spoke with more certainty or sat taller in the saddle than when Ronald Reagan was riding point.

In his second inaugural address, Reagan spoke of the danger of simple-minded appeasement, of accommodating countries at their lowest and least. `History,' said President Reagan, `teaches us that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.' Having seen the death and destruction of five wars in his lifetime, President Reagan's was a lesson learned at some expense. It was a lesson which he refused to repeat. And from his experience was borne the policy of peace through strength--a strategy that recognized that wishful thinking about our adversaries is a betrayal of our past and a squandering of our freedom.

But today, the administration seems to have forgotten this costly lesson. It seems driven not by foreign policy so much as by foreign politics, willing to pursue that which sounds historic rather than adopting policies that are historically sound.

Nowhere is this administration's failed thinking more apparent than in United States policy toward China. As I noted on the floor 2 weeks ago, Beijing has embarked on a military buildup that may soon threaten security interests in Asia, including our own. China already has the world's largest military at 2.9 million and is taking steps to enhance its force projection capabilities, including the acquisition of a blue water navy and a 21st century air force.

China is not an enemy of the United States. I sincerely hope that Washington and Beijing can develop a forthright and an enduring relationship. For such a relationship to develop, however, security issues must be addressed and fundamental questions about those issues must be answered.

What does it mean when China engages in a dramatic military buildup aimed at achieving superpower status? What does it mean when China proliferates technology for weapons of mass destruction and signs a $4.5 billion arms deal with the terrorist State of Iran? What does it mean when China fires missiles in the Taiwan Strait and seizes small islands in the South China Sea? For this belligerence suggests a China bent on regional domination.

While China's official military budget is roughly $8 billion, Beijing effectively conceals military spending through off-budget funding and revenue. Reliable estimates place China's military spending from 4 to 10 times the official budget. Russia alone, has made over $7 billion in arm sales to China since 1990, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of underemployed Russian nuclear engineers have been hired by China in the last several years.

Mr. President, the People's Liberation Army of China, has 20,000 companies, business enterprises, that funnel revenue into the military's coffers. These PLA companies are not the kind of competitors we want to welcome to the American market. Companies with ties to the PLA benefit from their special relationship with Beijing and have been involved in criminal activities ranging from smuggling assault weapons onto the streets of San Francisco to stealing defense-related technology.

So what, then, has this explosion in military spending wrought? First, a missile program that will soon give China the capacity to build hundreds of highly accurate ballistic missiles . Second, short- to medium-range ballistic missiles that will provide Beijing with versatile nonnuclear weapons to target U.S. military personnel in a variety of contingencies if they so desire.

And, as if this were not enough, China is modernizing its long-range nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles with mobile ICBM systems and advance reentry technology. Due to the potential of secret underground construction which is said to be available in China, China could have as many as 130 of such missiles with a range of 8,000 miles. China's missile modernization program is accompanied by the buildup of China's Air Force.

By 2010, China could have over 100 SU-27 and SU-30 aircraft. The SU-27 is comparable to, and may be more advanced in some areas than, the U.S. F-15C Eagle. Russia has been the primary provider of these aircraft and has signed a $2.2 billion coproduction agreement with China to help Beijing develop the domestic capacity to produce these planes.

China's ultimate goal is to acquire an all-weather Air Force within 5 years. Attack aircraft, precision-guided munitions, airborne early warning and control systems [AWACS], and large transport aircraft are all items on Beijing's wish list. With the help of Russian arms suppliers, China is putting the pieces of this lethal puzzle in place.

Beijing is also working to develop a blue water navy. Their ambitions are perhaps summed up best by the words of Admiral Liu Huaqing. `The Chinese Navy,' said Admiral Liu, `should exert effective control of the seas within the first island chain. Offshore should not be interpreted as coastal as we used to know it. Offshore is a concept relative to the high seas. It means the vast sea waters within the second island chain.'

Mr. President, it just so happens that the first island chain China seeks to control encompasses Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and some of the most critical shipping lanes in the world. The South China Sea alone accommodates 25 percent of the world's maritime trade and 75 percent of Japan's oil shipments.

To achieve Admiral Liu's objective, Beijing has purchased Kilo-class submarines and Sovremenny-class missile destroyers from Russia. In addition, the United States Office of Naval Intelligence [ONI] cites a National People's Congress report that China is seeking to build two 48,000-ton aircraft carriers, each with 40 combat aircraft, by the year 2005.

China's arms buildup would be less disturbing if Beijing were acting to resist aggression by an enemy power. But China faces no grave security threats, leaving us with troubling conclusions about Beijing's real intent. China has historically demonstrated a willingness to settle territorial disputes with force, and greater capacity can only increase the likelihood of belligerence in the future.

Since WWII, a catalog of China's regional conflicts covers almost her entire periphery. China has invaded Tibet and Vietnam, entered the Korean war, ousted Vietnamese forces from several islands in the South China Sea, fought India twice and Russia once over boundary disputes, and--not to forget the most consistent aspect of China's military adventurism--threatened Taiwan with military exercises and outright invasion of Taiwanese islands close to China's shore.

China currently has territorial disputes with India, Russia, Japan, Vietnam, and has vied with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia for control of the resource-rich and strategically important South China Sea. To defend its claim, Beijing has already constructed five naval installations in the Paracel Islands and seven installations in the Spratly Island group.

And what has been the Clinton administration's response to the rising Chinese military threat? Appeasement at every turn. China proliferates missile , nuclear, and chemical weapons technology to rogue regimes like Iran; in fact, China is identified by the CIA as the world's worst proliferator of weapons of mass destruction. And yet, the administration refuses to impose consistently sanctions authorized by U.S. law.

The China Ocean Shipping Co., better known as COSCO, is implicated in weapons smuggling to the United States and missile transfers to Pakistan, and the President personally assists the city of Long Beach, CA, in leasing the local United States naval harbor to COSCO.

The China National Nuclear Corp. orchestrates most of the nuclear technology transfers to Pakistan and Iran, and the administration responds by approving Export-Import Bank loans to help this Chinese company complete a nuclear reactor in China.

These examples reveal an underlying laxity also clearly seen in President Clinton's dismantling of export controls for sensitive technology. President Reagan's formation of the Combat Command [COCOM] helped enforce an international embargo of sensitive technology exports to the Soviet Union and effectively expanded America's technological lead. Unfortunately, having confused short-term profits with long-term security, this administration has undermined our export control framework.

For example, advanced U.S. aircraft engines have historically been a protected item on the munitions list of goods and services. Sales of Munitions List items are illegal to any country without formal approval from the State Department. In addition, sales of Munitions List items to China were prohibited after the Tiananmen Square crackdown and could only be permitted with a Presidential waiver.

Instead of openly issuing a waiver for the sale of aircraft engines to China, the Clinton administration quietly took airplane engines off the Munitions List and shifted their control from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce. Licenses for the sale of aircraft engines were quickly issued by then-Secretary Brown, and they continue to this day.

In addition to aircraft technology, export controls for supercomputers have also been relaxed. As Senator Cochran has argued so compellingly on the floor this week, supercomputers are not extra large versions of a Macintosh or an IBM, but advanced machines that can simulate warfare contingencies and model sophisticated weapons.

The Bush administration defined supercomputers as machines that could perform 195 MTOPS--million theoretical operations per second. The Clinton administration relaxed export controls by changing this definition to 2,000 MTOPS, a tenfold increase in the capability of noncontrolled supercomputers within 2 years. Shortly thereafter, the Clinton administration raised the threshold to 7,000 MTOPS for export of supercomputers for civilian use.

In the euphoria of the post-cold war world, the Clinton administration seems to have forgotten that civilian and military distinctions have little use in a Communist State like China where Government control of industry ensures that civilian technology is applied to military ends and where thousands of so-called businesses are literally owned by the military.

Again, as Senator Cochran has noted, United States companies have used these relaxed regulations to sell 47 supercomputers to China. Dozens more have been indirectly shipped to China via Europe, the Persian Gulf, and East Asia. The Clinton administration cannot account for where many of these computers are located or how they are being used.

As Stephen Bryan, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, writes:

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Thanks to * * * the Clinton administration, the Chinese can now conduct tests of nuclear weapons, conventional explosives, and chemical and biological weapons by simulating them on supercomputers. Not only can they now make better weapons of mass destruction, but they can do a lot of the work secretly, thus threatening us with an additional element of surprise.

For too long we have heard the argument that if the United States does not sell technology to Beijing, China will simply acquire the products from other sources. This contention is as familiar as it is flawed. United States military and dual-use technology is often a generation ahead of its Russian and European counterparts. How can the United States call on other nations to stop transferring dangerous technology when America is giving China some of the most advanced technology in the world?

A final thought. This week the Government Affairs Committee began investigating an ominous and startling facet of our national security--the security of this Nation's democratic elections. Every American has an interest in investigating the alleged plot of the Beijing government to influence the election of our President and Members of this Congress. Trying to corrupt American elections is shocking, outrageous, and wrong. And, if true, it must be dealt with in a forthright and forceful fashion.

In the end, it all comes down to leadership. That is what Ronald Reagan gave us throughout the 1980's, and that is what this country is looking for now. Leaders are willing to call this Nation--and nations around the world--to their highest and best, not accommodate them at their lowest and least.

Continued appeasement can only lead to further belligerence from Beijing. We must not let China slam shut the gate of freedom. We must show the quiet courage and common sense that have marked our foreign policy since America's first days.

It is time for America to place restrictions on high-technology exports to Beijing by supporting the Cochran-Durbin amendment; time to impose consistently sanctions on China for proliferating weapons of mass destruction; time to restrict United States market access to PLA-front companies; and time to let Beijing know that American security interests in East Asia will not be compromised. So, that 1 day, the long tug of memory might look favorably upon us as we look approvingly on those who fought for freedom in decades passed.