- BEIJING - Russia has completed
work on a second cruise-missile ship for China and started sea trials
for the new vessel two weeks ago, The Washington Times has learned.
- According to Pentagon intelligence officials, the ship
is the second Sovremenny-class advanced warship purchased by Beijing.
It was spotted in the Gulf of Finland during the last week of June undergoing
- The exercises are expected to include at least one test
launch of an SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship cruise missile, the officials said.
- The ship is likely to be sent to China toward the end
of this year. It is the second cruise-missile ship purchased from Russia
and will give the People's Liberation Army new capabilities against U.S.
aircraft carrier battle groups.
- "The SS-N-22 is the most dangerous anti-ship missile
in the Russian, and now the Chinese, fleet," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,
California Republican. "Our Navy admittedly has scant ability to
defend against this 200-kiloton nuclear-capable weapon."
- The missile has a range of 65 miles and can deliver nuclear
or conventional warheads. Chinese military writings have indicated that
Beijing is working on weapons to defeat U.S. carrier battle groups.
- A bill authored by Mr. Rohrabacher would prevent the
United States from bailing out Russia with international lending institutions
until Moscow ends all sales of Sunburn missiles.
- The bill has bipartisan support and could be debated
in the next several days. It states that the first of the two Sovremenny
destroyers was delivered to the People's Liberation Army navy in February,
operated by a mixed crew of Russian and Chinese sailors.
- "Currently the Russian and Chinese government are
discussing the sale of two additional Sovremenny destroyers," in
addition to the first two ships, the legislation says. "The supersonic
Moskit [SS-N-22] missile, which can be mounted on a naval or mobile land
platform, was designed specifically to destroy American aircraft carriers
and other warships equipped with advanced Aegis radar and battle management
- "The United States Navy considers the missile to
be extremely difficult to defend against," the bill says.
- The first Sovremenny destroyer arrived in China in February,
and the first shipment of 24 SS-N-22s this spring, said Pentagon intelligence
- Increasing Russian arms sales to China are one sign
of a growing alliance between Moscow and Beijing aimed at undermining
the U.S. position as the sole superpower.
- A U.S. official here said he is concerned about Russian
arms deliveries as part of China's military modernization program. The
missile destroyers, sales of Su-27 aircraft and Kilo-class submarines
are the alarming signs, the official said, speaking on the condition of
- "Those are the three things that could be very important,"
the official said. "They reflect a relationship between Russia and
China that we need to keep an eye on."
- Russian arms sales began in 1991 with 26 Su-27s worth
an estimated $1 billion. In 1994, China purchased four Russian diesel-powered
Kilo submarines, which the U.S. Navy considers advanced and difficult
to detect. Russian technicians also have been spotted by U.S. intelligence
agencies assisting China's program to build land-attack cruise missiles,
similar to the U.S. Tomahawk.
- Russian scientists also are reportedly assisting China's
development of laser weapons, space-based weapons, and nuclear submarines.
China also plans to use Russia's satellite navigation system for missile
- Defense Secretary William S. Cohen arrived here yesterday
to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister Chi Haotian.
The issue of Chinese weapons exports will be discussed, defense officials
- Official Chinese spokesmen yesterday attacked U.S.
plans for a national missile defense, calling it part of American plans
to dominate the world. "We urge the United States to drop as soon
as possible this plan, which does not serve its interest and harms that
of others," Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi told a news conference
as the defense secretary arrived in the Chinese capital.
- Mr. Cohen said earlier he will tell the Chinese military
that the limited U.S. national missile defense will not pose a threat
to China's small strategic nuclear arsenal.
- A Chinese commentator writing in the Guangming Daily
yesterday said that the U.S. missile defense "is aimed at building
up an overwhelming military superiority for the United States and permanently
maintaining its status as the only superpower in the world." A U.S.
missile defense would force both China and Russia "into developing
new weapons," said the commentator, Xu Fukang.
- Asked about the Chinese report, Mr. Sun said: "We
will determine our disarmament policy in accordance with the development
of the anti-missile system."
- Disclosure of Russia's completion of the new cruise-missile
destroyer comes as Congress is set to debate legislation to punish Moscow
for those sales.
- Russia's AVN news agency reported on Monday that the
Sovremenny destroyer will be supplied to the Chinese in November. The
agency quoted a spokesman for the Russian Baltic Fleet headquarters as
saying the ship is undergoing "state tests." It did not elaborate.
- The report said the Chinese crew would begin training
on the new ship in October.
- In a related development, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency
announced last week that Russia will send China the first batch of 10
advanced Su-30 warplanes by the end of the year. The Chinese have purchased
a total of 40 Su-30s.
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