Archive for the ‘hot line’ Category

Part II: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China — What China May Be Thinking

November 5, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 6, 2007

China will have the most trouble swallowing the American idea that “transparency” is in its own national interest.

But to lower tensions in the western Pacific, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia have all made strong statements indicating that China has to embrace a less secretive approach.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, standing alongside General Cao Gangchuan, China’s defense minister, also said he had raised “the uncertainty over China’s military modernization, and the need for greater transparency to allay international concerns.”

On Tuesday Mr. Gates will meet with China’s President Hu Jintao.

Chinese experts say China will not be able to adopt a more “transparent” approach very soon.

“Revealing more about its budgets, intentions and weapons development programs would seem like giving away a key national advantage to China,” said M.K. Hsu, a military analyst in Beijing.  “The communist leaders will reveal what they want, when they want, just as they did with the anti-satellite system,” he told us by phone.

China’s surprise anti-satellite test early this year and the continued cyber attacks and probes from China are near the top of the U.S. agenda in the discussions with China.

“There has been significant discussion and activity to assess the impact of [the anti-satellite test] and other [Chinese] space developments, and how to protect our extraordinarily important space capability,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command told the Washington Times last week.

But the fact that China’s first ASAT test was conducted without prior announcement shows that China’s penchant for secrecy is deeply rooted and will not be easily neutralized.

As we at Peace and Freedom have assessed before, secrecy and surprise are considered valuable tools to a nation not yet on a par militarily with the United States.  Without causing too many alarms to go off, China wants to develop more advanced capabilities and  larger, better organized forces with the finest in command and control.  This will take time and an incredible investment. And, in China’s view, a slow and secrative approach.

China is a nation of distrust.  In our experience, one of the Chinese cultural traits is the steady goal to get the best of others in all business dealing and a tremendous distrust of everyone — especially outsiders.  This is often true on the personal and national level.  Therefore, secrecy has become a mainstay of Chinese life.  Communist China has magnified this cultural tendency.  In China, “Mind your own business” is an important cautionary red-flag.

If we could read the minds of the Chinese the U.S. Secretary of Defense met on Monday, we’d guess that the military men in the Chinese delegation were sending the “Mind your own business” warning.  The more enlightened communist party civilian leadership was probably somewhat more accomodating.

China’s rapidly expanding economy and the huge balance of trade with the U.S. is more than sufficient to turn China into a U.S. rival within a decade.  Maybe mush sooner — at least in sophisticated equipment.  It might take longer to train a more professional military.  In one sense, the United States is funding China’s military advancement and expansion by allowing so many dollars to flow toward Beijing and Shanghai.

When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with his counterpart and other Chinese military leaders on Monday, he offered several ways that the two nations might lessen tensions and concerns; including those of Australia, South Korea and Japan.  But China only agreed to one critical tension reducing measure: the establishment of a “hot line” between the two nations.  And China was not shy in informing reporters that the Chinese military establishment did not want this new initiative adopted (the “none of your business” group).  The civilian leadership directed agreement (the more accomodating group).

The other agreements made Monday will make less news. 

China agreed to allow U.S. personnel to evaluate some of its Korean War documents and files to assist in accounting for U.S. personnel still unaccounted for from that war.  And Mr. Gates and his counterparts agreed to organize a new joint naval exercise larger and more complex than previously held exercises “at a proper time,”  and made a deal to plan to exchange military students at academies and war colleges in the future.

Gates acknowledged that he had made little headway in getting answers from the Chinese on the larger issues of his mission including space and cyber security measures.

But maybe the biggest issue is this: China and Russia have embraced each other.  They have teamed to oppose the U.S. on U.N. sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.  And they conducted the largest combined military exercise ever between the two nations this year.

We do not yet know how Mr. Gates approached this issue but we do know this: China will listen with its “deaf ear.”

The level of cooperation initiated by Monday’s meetings has to be considered a reflection of a military relationship still in its infancy.

Part I: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China —
U.S. Objectives


Part I: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China — U.S. Objectives

November 5, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 5, 2007

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is traveling in China this week to discuss a host of issues including “transparency,” space security, cyber security, and the possible installation of a hot line between the two nations.

One of Mr. Gates’ key goals is to encourage China toward more “transparency“ or honest openness in its military budgets, programs and intentions.

The U.S. has been baffled by — and complained about — China’s penchant for secrecy in all things and its sometimes starteling behavior. One surprise incident transpired in 2001 when a U.S. “spy plane” was hit in mid-air — apparently intentionally — by a Chinese fighter jet. The American flight crew and aircraft were held by the Chinese in a provacative standoff.

Secrecy and inexplicable behavior are almost the main hallmarks of communist China’s way of doing business.

But the current regime, headed by President Hu Jintao, considers itself relatively frank and open.

For example, ten years ago, the world would not have known about a Chinese Communist Party Conference until after the conclusion of the event. Last month, China had such a conference, punctuated by televised addresses and nightly news conferences.

Despite these format and window dressing changes, the West still didn’t learn much of the substance about what was really going on.

One of President Hu’s favorites in the Chinese bureaucracy is Vice Premier Wu Yi (her nickname is “The Iron Lady“). She is currently in charge of cleaning up the tainted food scandal. Time Magazine has called her the “goddess of transparency” — which must have made President Hu and Vice Premier Wu beam with pride.

Transparency, and in fact all the other key issues — space security, cyber security, and installation of a hot line between the two nations — might lessen regional tensions.

Japan and Australia have gone on the record with their concerns that China’s lack of openness combined with provocative actions like the test of an anti-satellite system, may be causing instability in the Western pacific region.

Early last July a Defense White Paper from Japan expressed concern about China. “There are fears about the lack of transparency concerning China’s military strength,” the paper said. “In January this year, China used ballistic missile technology to destroy one of its own satellites. There was insufficient explanation from China, sparking concern in Japan and other countries about safety in space as well as the security aspects.”

That same week, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard said, “The pace and scope of [China’s] military modernization, particularly the development of new and disruptive capabilities such as the anti-satellite missile, could create misunderstandings and instability in the region.”

And on Saturday, November 3, 2007, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun published an account of their interview with South Korea’s President Roh Moo-Hyun who voiced concern over Japan and China’s military capabilities and build-up.”The hostile relationship between Japan and China is a burden for South Korea,” the President said in the interview.

“Both must make efforts to change their relationship of being vigilant towards each other and of expanding their military arsenal. It’s inevitable that they would react sensitively (to one another),” he added.

The U.S. has concerns about China too, but Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen have gone out of their way to say that China is not a rival or an adversary.

But speaking to Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz last week, Air Force Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said that China’s anti-satellite test and the robust and continual computer hacking caused by China has resulted in increased emphasis in those defense areas for the U.S.

“There has been significant discussion and activity to assess the impact of [the anti-satellite test] and other [Chinese] space developments, and how to protect our extraordinarily important space capability,” he said.

Pentagon officials and media reports have said Chinese military hackers in recent months carried out computer-based attacks on Pentagon and U.S. military and civilian government computer networks, as well as on foreign government networks. Newspapers even cited reliable Pentagon sources as saying Secretary Gates’ Pentagon computer may have been penetrated or disrupted by the Chinese.

And China has established detailed protective measures of its own computer systems, sometimes called “The Great Cyber Wall.”

The idea of a “hot line,” or direct telephone hook-up with round-the-clock translators, comes from a system used for years between the Soviet Union and the United States. The hot line is believed to be a major tool toward increased understanding of events and intentions — thus preventing conflict or weapons use through a misunderstanding.

The idea gained momentum especially among senior Naval Officers after a Chinese submarine surfaced unannounced and unexpectedly and within shooting range of the American aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk late last year.

JCS Chairman Admiral Mullen is known to be a proponent of the hot line and has already discussed the idea with his Chinese counterpart.

So Mr. Gates has clear objectives as he holds discussions with senior Chinese military leaders.

It should come as no surprise that China’s objectives remain shrouded in secrecy.

In Part II on Tuesday we’ll assess the elephant in the meeting room: China’s bocking of U.S. initiatives in the U.N.

Whether the discussions between the U.S. and China will bear fruit remains to be seen. We’ll discuss this more in Part II tomorrow.

SecDef Gates Visits China This Week

November 3, 2007

By Andrew Gray
November 3, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits China next week at the start of an Asian tour, aiming to strengthen relations while also expressing concerns about China’s military buildup.

Robert Michael Gates
Robert Gates

Gates, a former CIA director who replaced Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon last December, will also visit South Korea and Japan during his trip.

Gates said this week he did not consider China a military threat to America “at this point” and relations between the two countries have warmed considerably since a 2001 low point when a Chinese fighter crashed into a U.S. spy plane.

[The author goes on to discuss the issues between the two nations, such as space security, cyber security and “transparency.”]

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Bush, China’s President Hu Strike Agreements

September 6, 2007

By Paul Wiseman, USA Today
September 6, 2007

SYDNEY — President Bush accepted an invitation Thursday to attend the Beijing Olympics next year, agreed to set up a military hotline with China and received assurances from Chinese President Hu Jintao that Beijing is serious about cracking down on unsafe products.

Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

In a 90-minute meeting at a Sydney hotel, Bush and Hu covered some of the thornier topics in a relationship Bush has described as “complex”: U.S.-China trade relations; North Korea’s nuclear program; and tensions between China and Taiwan. But both men described the meeting as “cordial.”

“He’s an easy man to talk to,” Bush said. “I’m very comfortable in my discussions with President Hu.”

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