Exclusive: ‘Without Haste. Without Fear. We Will Conquer the World.’ Who Said That?

by MARGARET CALHOUN HEMENWAY November 3, 2009
This week, Secretary of Defense Gates welcomed Gen. Xu Caihou, vice-chairman of the People's Liberation Army Central Military Commission, to Washington. General Xu is China's second-highest-ranking uniformed officer. There are a number of high-level meetings scheduled with General Xu and other senior U.S. officials, including a dinner hosted by Secretary Gates.
 
Gen. Xu will be permitted to visit a number of U.S. military facilities around the country, including the Naval Academy, Fort Benning, Strategic Command, Nellis Air Force Base, the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego, and Pacific Command.
 
While this high-ranking Chinese official receives a tour of the Defense Department's crown jewel installations, it's an important time to remember the important restrictions on the Fiscal Year 2000 Defense Authorization bill sponsored by then Sen. Bob Smith – which made off limits certain military platforms and capabilities to the Chinese military. President Bill Clinton had initiated U.S.-China military to military exchanges during his Administration. The Smith restrictions adopted by the Senate Armed Services Committee were meant to curb publicized excesses committed by the Clinton Defense Department. Former PACOM (Pacific Command) Commander Adm. Prueher, whose nomination under Clinton as Ambassador to Beijing Sen. Smith initially blocked, for example, had taken Chinese officers aboard a nuclear submarine. His justification then was that Boy Scouts had also toured nuclear subs. The Smith restrictions restricted access to nuclear platforms, exposure to joint warfighting capabilities, and military space operations. The Chinese have chafed at these restrictions ever since they were signed into law by the Clinton Administration and continually advocate for them to be removed.
 
Sen. Smith's concerns about the mil-to-mil program being primarily an opportunity for Chinese espionage (especially given the "open door" policy the Clinton Administration had indulged at America's nuclear weapons labs, resulting in the loss of the W-88 warhead design) were well-founded. When the EP-3 incident occurred near Hainan Island early in the George W. Bush Administration – precipitated by a Chinese fighter pilot crashing into an unarmed American reconnaissance plane over international waters – the vaunted mil-to-mil program, which the Clinton Department of Defense naïvely hoped would promote peaceful relations between the U.S. and China, proved its ineffectiveness.
 
Adm. Prueher, who had touted the program's benefits, suddenly found he could not get phone calls returned from his friends in Beijing. A hostage crisis ensued – with the American crew from the military aircraft being detained and awakened in the night and subjected to rough interrogation by the Chinese – and the plane, with highly sensitive eavesdropping equipment aboard, was rifled.
 
For years, security-minded Members of Congress and their staff worried that the Chinese Government used the mil-to-mil program to pepper U.S. military officers with targeted questions in order to help build Chinese military capabilities. An unclassified version of the annual mil-to-mil report showed that the Chinese were posing many questions, including most famously (as revealed in an article in The New Republic), what is the most vulnerable part of an aircraft carrier? – an answer readily and, perhaps unwittingly, supplied by a U.S. Admiral who explained in some detail where ammunition was stored on the carrier and the angle at which a torpedo might strike the ship to maximize damage. 
 
Technically, this information was not classified, but it was undeniably "militarily useful" information which should never be supplied so easily to a rising power that considers America a threat, especially to its designs to absorb democratic Taiwan (and by force, if necessary). It is an open secret on Capitol Hill that the mil-to-mil program never established the level of reciprocity and transparency expected – in other words, the Chinese protect certain military capabilities and platforms against disclosure to the Americans, while the U.S. hopes that if we show them certain things, they might one day reciprocate. 
 
The Chinese remain among the most serious espionage challenges the U.S. confronts today, along with Russia, which remains as active as it was during the Cold War era. Just in May of this year, the deputy director of PACOM's Washington liaison office was charged with espionage – for allegedly providing classified information to the Peoples Republic of China.
 
The Chinese are gifted at lobbying Americans and entertain guests lavishly when visiting China. A group of influential ex-military brass was given the red carpet treatment in February 2008 and, as expected, the Chinese lobbied them heavily in favor of repealing the Smith Amendment. At the final session of the meeting (the Sanya Initiative), the Chinese Generals put forth two specific requests: First, that the American Generals request delay of a March 3rd release of a DoD report on the People's Liberation Army, and second, that the Generals support repeal of NDAA2000, "a law which restricts many avenues for cooperation between the American and Chinese military." The Sanya event, ironically, was held at the future, large underground base of the Chinese Navy's submarine force, a fact not mentioned in the released report.
   
Chinese aspirations for more exposure to U.S. technology don’t end with the Department of Defense. More recently, the Augustine panel (named for distinguished aerospace executive Norm Augustine) mentioned China's interest in a potential partnership in space with the United States. President Obama's science advisor, John Holdren, according to Aviation Week and Space Technology (October 26th), left open the idea of U.S. astronauts flying on Chinese spacecraft and discussed this with the new NASA Administrator. The NASA Administrator apparently believes President Obama would like to cooperate with the Chinese in space. Aviation Week & Space Technology was the first to point out last year that Russian cosmonauts on the space station were inappropriately taking pictures of Georgia just after Russian troops invaded the sovereign republic – despite space station restrictions against exploiting the station for anything other than "peaceful purposes." The Russian pretext was that it was taking the photos for water management purposes, an excuse accepted at face value by NASA's Public Affairs office. 
 
The Chinese ASAT test in 2007, which sparked the single biggest orbital debris incident in space history, shows that Chinese intentions in space are hardly benign.(Sen. Smith fought for a similar U.S. capability to disable enemy satellites but, unlike the Chinese program, the U.S. KE-ASAT program included debris mitigation.) The Chinese destruction of a satellite in space was a warning that the Chinese can hold America's space-based, war-fighting capability at risk. 
 
Lifting the Smith Amendment would be a sign that the Obama Administration is continuing down the same fruitless path as the Clinton Administration – of imagining that personal/individual interactions such as diplomacy (mil-to-mil exchanges) can help to surmount fundamental political differences between democratic governments and totalitarian regimes. Anita Dunn, communications director for the Obama White House, earlier this year proclaimed Mao Zedong, who presided over murders of tens of millions of his fellow Chinese, as one of her two favorite political philosophers – let's hope that her boss doesn't share her view. 
 
It might be wise for the Obama Administration as it entertains Gen. Xu, to consider the warning contained in the billboard at China's main rocket launch center complex in Jiuquan – written half in English in large letters: "Without Haste. Without Fear. We Will Conquer the World."
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Margaret Calhoun Hemenway spent fifteen years on Capitol Hill, in both the House and Senate, and five years as a White House appointee serving President Bush at both DoD and NASA.
   
 
 
 

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