China's Strategic Threat -
Clinton Policy 'Worse
Than Appeasement'
By Jon E. Dougherty
China wants the U.S. out of Asia, and will continue to upgrade and enhance its military capability to accomplish that goal, according to a senior congressional policy analyst.
Al Santoli, a foreign policy adviser to < U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA, and an analyst at the < American Foreign Policy Council, believes current administration policies toward China of so-called "constructive engagement" are "worse than appeasement," and will further jeopardize U.S. national security in the long run.
Santoli made his remarks in a telephone interview with WorldNetDaily, and was adamant that all indications point to the Chinese continuing their decade-long effort to obtain more sensitive U.S. technology before their "window of opportunity closes" at the end of the Clinton administration.
The latest attempt by China to obtain more U.S. technology occurred earlier this month, when Chinese businessman Collin Shu was arrested in Massachusetts trying to buy gyroscopes from U.S. undercover agents. The gyroscopes are precision tools used to guide everything from missiles to smart bombs, and officials said that Shu was attempting to ship them to China through Canada via a front company he owns.
What is equally important, however, are the uses China has found for all the new knowledge. Both Rohrabacher and Santoli are worried that Chinese military buildups in key areas surrounding mainland China will not only threaten the stability of the region but make any eventual U.S. intervention costly and difficult.
Santoli told WorldNetDaily that while he believes the issue of Taiwan is currently the most contentious between the U.S. and China, he also indicated that a threat is emerging in the South China Sea because of China's claim of sovereignty over a small collection of islands. For years China has continued a < b uildup in the < Islands, adding a three-story structure and completing work on multiple helicopter pads and communications facilities all within the past 60 days.
Critics have denounced the opinions of Rohrabacher and Santoli as alarmist, but both men say their concerns are based on first-hand observations. Santoli is an expert in the area of Asian foreign policy and the California congressman has personally visited the Spratly Islands twice in the past several weeks.
Not only are new structures complete on portions of the island chain, but they added that more projects are already underway that will be completed over the next several months. The additional capabilities will put China in the best position to make good on their claim over the islands -- reportedly rich in natural gas and oil -- which will result in a likely foreign policy nightmare for the United States. Other U.S. allies in the region also claim some or all of the Spratly Islands, but attempts to soften the Chinese position on the sovereignty issue have met with resistance. As a result, the Clinton administration's policies favoring the Chinese appear to legitimize their claim over the Spratlys which may have emboldened their efforts to beef up existing garrisons.
Because of the State Department's willingness to ignore technology sales and transfers, and because of the Clinton administration's continued ambivalence toward China, Santoli believes "we're actually helping to facilitate the Chinese military buildup, especially with all this military-to-military cooperation."
Last week Rohrabacher addressed these concerns in a letter he sent to Defense Secretary William Cohen. The Pentagon has just announced increased military ties with China in 1999, including high-level contacts that may end up providing the Chinese military with insights into improving logistics, battlefield tactics and technological efforts. In his letter, the congressman said continuing to provide the Chinese with access to sensitive U.S. technology, military tactics and logistical expertise was "insanity." Rohrabacher wrote, "There is no country in the world that we are more likely to be at war with 10 years from now than Communist China, and here we are modernizing their military. It's insanity."
Santoli addressed a gambit of concerns he has with current U.S.-China policies. He spoke to issues of trade and appeasement, and summarized the current status of several Chinese military projects. Most importantly, he pointed out that while it is not prudent to abandon all contact with the Chinese, it is foolish to believe they are the benevolent behemoth the administration says they are.
Santoli said the Chinese have been able to upgrade weapons systems so rapidly because of huge trade imbalances. He said, "We've got a $60 billion per year trade deficit with China, mostly because of the imbalance within import and export duties." That imbalance, he explained, has enabled China to accumulate huge sums of disposable cash to purchase weapons, technology and expand their own domestic production capability.
Not only that, Santoli said, loopholes in U.S. trade policy with China "have made it very easy to continue to get access to U.S. technology, even today," despite congressional reports that national security has been already been harmed due to the sale of sensitive technology. "Many PLA (People's Liberation Army) businesses are fronts in Hong Kong, and the importation/exportation rules into Hong Kong from America are much less restrictive," he said.
And he pointed some of the blame for lax trade policies on members of the White House advisory staff. For example, he said, before joining the Clinton White House as the president's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger had substantial business contacts in which have been enhanced since Clinton relaxed the technology export rules.
"The Commerce Department has definitely improved Mr. Berger's business relationships," Santoli said. And it is precisely these kinds of relationships throughout the Clinton administration that have led to a series of foreign policy gaffes and missteps.
Regarding the current status of Chinese weapons systems, Santoli said the PLA is making progress in a number of areas. Besides building their first supersonic bomber, the Hong-7, China has developed the first stages of an anti-satellite capability, are building anti-ship missiles that can be fired from helicopters, are expanding into a blue water navy, and have "an aggressive military aircraft production capability, which includes in-flight refueling capacity purchased from Russia."
Santoli said China's regional goal is simple. They "want the U.S. out of the Pacific and they want to dominate the region." Admiral Joseph Prueher, outgoing commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific and Asia agrees, telling reporters last week, "At some point in the future they (the Chinese) would like to have everyone in the region have to have China's approval for whatever they might want to do."
Their military strategy for gaining influence is time-tested, Santoli explained. "Basically, they are island-hopping," he said, referencing a military strategy widely used by the Japanese in the years leading up to World War II. He said that since the Chinese do not currently possess the logistical capacity of the United States, they are acquiring existing land masses in the region and turning them "into floating military bases instead."
For instance, China recently acquired the < of Tarawa -- the site of a bloody World War II battle -- from the island nation of Kiribati, where they have built a major satellite listening and observation post. Tarawa is strategically located between the U.S. and the Chinese mainland, and is only about 1,500 miles from Hawaii. "It gives China the ability to monitor all U.S. anti-missile systems and missile tests," Santoli said.
The Asian foreign policy expert said he also sees China simultaneously developing other military technologies that are designed to attack U.S. information systems. He explained that China is "very interested" in exploiting "asymmetrical warfare" -- a concept that involves attacking an enemy's satellites, computer systems, and information infrastructure.
He was also blunt about Chinese intentions towards Taiwan. "They want to take Taiwan over, pure and simple. Even last week they were talking about it," he said, referring to China's anger over U.S. intentions to construct an ad hoc missile defense system for Taiwan and Japan as a result of ongoing ballistic missile threats from both China and North Korea.
Santoli appeared skeptical about the U.S. decision, saying, "Any missile defense system in the short term would be inadequate" because "there really isn't one that would go against the number of missiles China could deploy -- at this time."
Santoli also questioned China's budding new relationship with Russia, calling it "a danger for us, but one that will end up being a mistake for Russia." He predicted that "they (the Chinese) will turn on Russia after they get what they want from them and after they deal with us," and he dismissed recent attempts by Russia to include India in any future coalition with China as unworkable. "India just doesn't trust the Chinese, and they aren't enemies of ours -- nor do they want to be."
Finally, Santoli said he was not "quite as worried about Chinese aggression" during the final years of the Clinton administration as he is in the years immediately following the expiration of Clinton's term. He believes the Chinese know the window of opportunity to access U.S. technology will close soon, but he believes "they'll have already perfected several new weapons systems and will be much more enhanced strategically by then," he said.
"Some kind of confrontation with China could happen before then, but they're really not ready yet," he explained. "They want to build more missiles, improve their blue water navy, enhance their air forces, and perfect their high-tech anti-satellite capabilities."
See Jon E. Dougherty's daily < column. He may be reached through < E-mail.
© 1999 Western Journalism Center