China's Military Plots
'Dirty War' Against
The West
By David Harrison and Damien McElroy
As President Jiang Zemin prepares for his state visit to Britain this week, details have emerged of a bizarre Chinese plan to destroy the West's financial institutions in the event of a major conflict breaking out.
Senior members of the People's Liberation Army are openly urging the Beijing government to abandon conventional defence strategies and prepare a "dirty war". They advocate terrorism, biochemical warfare, environmental damage and computer viruses as a means to pitch the West into political and economic crisis.
The maverick officers maintain that China must use such tactics because it cannot hope to match the West's military might. The plans are revealed in a series of books and newspaper articles published recently in China. One book, which was written by two PLA air force colonels, lists 24 types of dirty war that could be used to bring America and its allies to their knees.
Col Qiao Liang, the author of one of the books, justified the eccentric advice in a full-page newspaper article: "All strong countries make rules, while all rising ones break them and exploit loopholes. Barbarians [a Chinese term for foreigners] always rise by breaking the rules of civilised and developed countries, which is what human history is all about." Although the prospect of war between China and the West is a distant one, disclosure of plans for a dirtywar will cause embarrassment for President Jiang, who begins a four-day visit to Britain on Tuesday, as well as for his hosts, the Queen and Prince Philip.
The 73-year-old president - the first Chinese head of state to visit Britain - begins his tour with a ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade on Tuesday. He will also hold separate talks with Tony Blair, William Hague and Charles Kennedy, as well as visiting cultural and tourist attractions.
The revelations will fuel the controversy surrounding President Jiang's visit. Police are already planning one of the biggest security operations ever mounted for a visiting politician in an attempt to keep pro-Tibet and pro-democracy protesters away from the president, who is highly sensitive to political protests.
Officers are preparing for demonstrations at all points on the president's itinerary, including: the Millennium Dome; the Royal Observatory at Greenwich; the British Museum, where he will open a China exhibition; the Globe theatre, where he will attend a rehearsal of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar; and Cambridge University, where he will visit the university library and music school.
The blueprints for the dirty war say the Chinese army should infiltrate and sabotage key pillars of Western society, including banks and the public sector, in response to a direct threat of war.The officers argue that Beijing's attempts to upgrade its nuclear and conventional arsenal to catch up with America are insufficient to prepare the world's most populous country for conflict.
The increasingly global world economy is pinpointed as a weak point which could be exploited. The PLA officers write admiringly of George Soros, whose attack on the pound in 1992 is suggested as a template for disrupting an unsuspecting rival's economic system. One recent article proposed that Beijing should set aside $100 billion to pitch its enemies into financial crisis.
The books analyse the tactics that Beijing could adopt to bridge the gulf with America and its allies. The authors of a book entitled Unrestricted War say such a war "surpasses all boundaries and restrictions. It takes non-military forms and military forms, and creates a war on many fronts. It is the war of the future".
One passage criticises Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic for failing to exploit fully the use of hostages as human shields to deter missile attacks by the United States. The new thinking has been echoed in the state-run media, which in recent months has increasingly focused on the ways in which China can prepare for war against a technologically superior enemy. The China Youth Daily newspaper said: "Westerners enjoy a high level of civilisation and will think the measures indecent. However, no one will be merciful when war breaks out."
The tactics were employed for the first time as Beijing flexed its muscles recently in response to Taiwanese attempts to redefine their island's relationship with the mainland. According to Taipei authorities, Chinese government computer hackers tried to destroy websites maintained by the Taiwanese National Assembly on the Internet. Although the hackers caused enough damage to close the site for three days, they failed to destroy data held on the central computer running the site.
But limitations were exposed when Taiwanese hackers struck back, forcing Beijing to disconnect computers from the World Wide Web until a new protective "wall" was ready. The PLA planners argue that China should limit its weapons build-up. Beijing should not, for example, attempt to match a joint programme recently launched by America and Japan to develop missile-based defence systems.
The authors of Unrestricted War said China should not fall into the trap of spending beyond its means as it attempted to develop new weapons systems and military hardware.