|23 April 2004
Defense Official Says China Transforming Its Military Establishment
Says China seeks ability to deter Taiwan's moves toward independence
China is engaged in a long-term, far-reaching military modernization
effort that "encompasses the transformation of virtually
all aspects" of its military establishment, according
to Richard P. Lawless, deputy under secretary of defense for
international security affairs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Lawless, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
on April 22, cited information from the Pentagon's upcoming "Report
to Congress on Chinese Military Power" to describe changes
in the weapons systems, operational doctrine, institutional
organization and personnel practices of the People's Liberation
Army (PLA) and the PLA Air Force (PLAAF).
The changes are intended to "develop capabilities to
fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts along
[China's] periphery," Lawless said, with particular emphasis
on "credible military options to deter moves by Taiwan
toward permanent separation or, if required, to compel by force
the integration of Taiwan under mainland authority." Of
equal importance, he added, the PLA is strengthening its capacity
to "deter, delay, or disrupt third-party intervention
in a cross-Strait military crisis."
"The PLA's determined focus on preparing for conflict
in the Taiwan Strait raises serious doubts over Beijing's declared
policy of seeking 'peaceful reunification' under the 'one country,
two systems' model," Lawless said.
According to Lawless, China's defense spending is now estimated
to be the third highest in the world, behind only the United
States and Russia.
Following is the text of his remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Statement of Richard P. Lawless
Deputy Undersecretary of Defense
International Security Affairs-Asia Pacific
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Good morning Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. Thank
you for holding this hearing and for the opportunity to address
the important issue of PRC Military Reforms. I have prepared
an initial statement largely drawn from our soon-to-be-released
Report to Congress on Chinese Military Power, and then would
be glad to answer any questions you may have.
China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is embarked on an ambitious,
long-term military modernization effort to develop capabilities
to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts along
its periphery. China's defense modernization encompasses the
transformation of virtually all aspects of the military establishment,
to include weapons systems, operational doctrine, institution
building, and personnel reforms.
In recent years, the PLA has accelerated reform and modernization
so as to have a variety of credible military options to deter
moves by Taiwan toward permanent separation or, if required,
to compel by force the integration of Taiwan under mainland
authority. A second set of objectives, though no less important,
includes capabilities to deter, delay, or disrupt third-party
intervention in a cross-Strait military crisis.
The PLA has made progress in meeting those goals through acquiring
and deploying new weapon systems, promulgating new doctrine
for modern warfare, reforming institutions, and improving training.
The PLA's determined focus on preparing for conflict in the
Taiwan Strait raises serious doubts over Beijing's declared
policy of seeking "peaceful reunification" under
the "one country, two systems" model.
The growth of China's economy has allowed the PRC to sustain
annual double-digit increases, with one exception, since 1990.
The officially announced budget in 2004 is more than $25 billion,
but when off-budget funding for foreign weapon system imports
is included we estimate total defense-related expenditures
this year between $50 and $70 billion, ranking China third
in defense spending after the U.S. and Russia.
China's military reform has also benefited from observing
U.S. operations. The PLA first observed the Revolution in Military
Affairs from the 1991 Operation DESERT STORM and studied how
a technologically inferior force could defend against a superior
opponent during Operation ALLIED FORCE over Kosovo. The PLA
likely learned lessons on the application of unmanned aerial
vehicles for reconnaissance and strike operations, the role
of modern, well-trained Special Forces in precision targeting,
and the importance of speed in modern warfare.
There are several key areas of reform which I'd like to emphasize.
PLA theorists and planners believe that future campaigns will
be conducted simultaneously on land, at sea, and in the air,
space, and the electronic sphere. Therefore, the PLA is improving
its joint operations capabilities by developing an integrated
C4ISR network, a new command structure, and a joint logistics
The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) is transitioning from a defensive
force to one with a modern, offensive strike capability. China's
force modernization plan and acquisition strategy for its air
forces have been aimed mainly at defeating regional air forces,
defending against aircraft operating at long ranges from China's
coast, denying U.S. naval operations, and striking regional
targets such as airbases and air defense sites.
Conventional Missile Operations
Beijing's growing conventional missile force provides a strategic
capability without the political and practical constraints
associated with nuclear-armed missiles. The PLA's short-range
ballistic missiles (SRBMs) provide a survivable and effective
conventional strike force and represent a real-time coercive
China continues to improve quantitatively and qualitatively
the capabilities of its conventionally armed SRBM force. The
deployed inventory number are 500-550 SRBMs, all deployed opposite
Taiwan, and are increasing at a rate of 75 a year. The accuracy
and lethality of this force also are expected to increase through
use of satellite-aided guidance systems.
Beijing realizes it must have forces available to respond
rapidly to a range of regional contingencies, and it is seeking
to build a balanced naval force for surface, antisubmarine,
submarine, air defense, mine, and amphibious warfare.
China requires a survivable, robust, reliable, and sophisticated
Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence,
Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system to harness
battlespace information. The PLA continues to upgrade its communication
capabilities, which eventually will rival the most modern civil
Acquiring modern ISR systems remains critical to Beijing's
military modernization program and supports the PLA's local
wars doctrine. Ongoing space-based systems with potential military
applications include two new remote-sensing satellites; advanced
imagery, reconnaissance, and Earth resource systems with military
applications; and electronic intelligence (ELINT) or signals
intelligence (SIGINT) reconnaissance satellites.
China is conducting extensive studies and is seeking foreign
assistance on small satellites and microsatellites -- weighing
less than 100 kilograms -- for missions that include remote
sensing and networks of electro-optical and radar satellites.
China is expected to continue to enhance its satellite tracking
and identification network. According to press accounts, China
can use probable low-energy lasers to "blind" the
sensors on low-Earth-orbiting satellites, although whether
this claim extends to actual facilities is unclear. China has
reportedly begun testing an anti-satellite (ASAT) system.
China's Defense Industrial Base
Finally, let me conclude with some brief remarks about China's
defense industry. China's defense industrial base -- also known
as National Defense Science, Technology, and Industry (NDST&I)
-- is a redundant structure, consisting of the factories, institutes,
and academies subordinate to the organizations that represent
the nuclear, aeronautics, electronics, ordnance, shipbuilding,
and astronautics industries. The production factories are represented,
for import/export purposes, by trading corporations with well-known
names such as China Aero-Technology Import/Export Corporation
(CATIC) and China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO).
The import/export corporations are entities which aggressively
pursue contracts to sell PRC equipment overseas as well as
involve foreign companies in joint ventures in China. These
corporations are closely monitored by the State Department
for proliferation concerns. For example, CATIC was sanctioned
as recently as May 2002 pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be glad
to answer any questions you may have.