“No arms for china!”

The conservative Heritage Foundation has put up a new article by senior fellow Peter Brookes on why selling arms to the PRC is just as bad as selling them to North Korea or Iran. Brookes sees China as a miitaristic hegemon bent on dominating Asia.

Military Threat. China is engaged in a major military buildup that goes far beyond its defensive needs. In the next few years, China will develop real military options for muscling its democratic neighbor Taiwan (which Beijing considers a renegade province). Down the road, China looks toward dominating Japan and Southeast Asia, too.

And who really knows where Beijing will come down if South and North Korea come to blows? (The last Korean War might be a good indicator . . .)

Ultimately, the PLA’s long-term, military modernization game plan is to deter, delay or deny U.S. intervention in any Asian conflict involving China. Beyond that, the PLA seeks to ultimately replace America as the preeminent military power in the Pacific.

* Weapons Proliferation. China is a notorious weapons proliferator — from weapons of mass destruction to small arms. Its record on export controls is abysmal. Sensitive European technology will surely fall into the hands of China’s roguish friends: Iran, North Korea, Syria and Burma.

So needless to say he is in a tizzy that the EU is actually considering dropping the ban on selling weapons to China, a move he say the Europeans are doing to make money (duh) and to “balance America’s global power.” If the EU sells arms to China, he says, “our government should stop the flow of U.S. military technology to European firms.”

Personally, I’d rather see the ban extended, especially considering its original purpose. I’m all for doing business with China’s companies and encouraging as much trade as possible. But building up Jiang’s army with high-tech weaponry — I just don’t see the justification, considering the country’s history of arms trafficking, not to mention its recent belligerent attitude.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

A Shotgun and a Case of Coors

…like giving Dick Cheney a loaded shotgun and a case of Coors at an anti-Iraq-war rally…

July 20, 2004 @ 2:57 pm | Comment

The Heritage Foundation isn’t exactly the place where one would find Noam Chomsky, Ted Rall, Michael Moore or Tariq Aziz, so one should not be surprise to hear the organization decry any arms sales to a communist country like China.

The US continues to be the world’s biggest arms exporter. For the last few years, the US, together with the UK and France has earned more from such deadly exports to third world countries that they gave back in aid. Almost ninety percent of the world’s conventional arms exports came from these three plus Russia and China. Even small Singapore has a major export in small arms. Sales of weapons confer big profits, apart from the main benefit these provide the countries, especially the smaller ones, namely, reasonable independence from imports of basic conventional arms – a degree of self reliance in military capability, so to speak.

While I wouldn’t encourage nor support sales of sophisticated weapons to China that may upset the balance of power across the Taiwan Straits, I don’t believe she wants to invade the island just for the sake of possessing (or some would say, re-possessing) her.

China has a taste of some economic well-being these recent years, and wants to continue doing so. There is hope for the country if the economy carries on encouragingly. She might even get rid completely of the reputation of being Asia’s most sick man, and become a true 1st World nation. A war to invade Taiwan will certainly curtail progress towards that ambition. She’ll be happy to maintain the status quo. Taipei in fact is the one provoking her, for obvious reasons for the island’s own agenda.

China is aware that while some has painted a picture of her potential superpower status (probably more for those people’s political agenda or military budget allocations), she has a long long way to go before she would enjoy that. Most of her multitudes are still in considerable poverty and the whole country requires fixing up to world standards. Can such a Chinese nation achieve that? Well, the Singapore example provides hope. Japan and Korea are other examples. And across the Straits, Taiwan shines like a beacon.

I don’t believe that the US would want to block any arms sales to China provided the weapons will not upset the current balance of military capabilities across the Straits. For example, she objected to Israel selling the Phalcon AEW aircraft to the PRC but allowed such a sale to India. This is an indication that it’s the balance of power in the Chinese region rather than the technology per se that has been of concern to the US (though of course the technology will change the balance of power). Therefore, Taiwan is reasonably well looked after.

As for the Korean War, we need to remind ourselves why China entered late into the conflict. She felt threatened by the US advance towards the Yalu river, and assessed that it could well be a US strategy to blockade her from North Korea along her coast (Taiwan) down to Vietnam. Don’t forget that this was during the Cold War. She assessed her best option was to confront the US in North Korea rather than elsewhere (like Taiwan) where the PLA was not adequately equipped for those theatres.

As for dominating Korea or Japan, I think China has witnessed how the mightiest nation in the world can be easily bogged down by a 3rd world nation like Iraq, let alone nations like Asia’s two mighty tigers. No, achieving real power and status through trade, economy, finance and development will continue to be her main objectives. But like Singapore, she too wants to be respected by others. A few modern weapons may be handy for her defence – she can’t just rely on human waves to over-swarm her potential threats. Today’s technology doesn’t support such a military tactic, and neither do the modern Chinese soldiers or peasants, who aren’t as subservient as their predecessors.

July 21, 2004 @ 5:31 am | Comment

Guess who else has been trying to sell arms to China.

This is something you’ll probably never, EVER read about on the “Heritage Foundation” website.

July 21, 2004 @ 7:56 am | Comment

Well, as I mentioned in my earlier posting, there was the aborted deal involving the Phalcon radar for AEW. There were other deals as well. China is hungry for technology – Israel can and wants to meet her needs for obvious commercial reasons, that is, if the US permits the sale. Israel also needs friends. Through such military sales (and possibly intelligence sharing on Islamist terrorists) she has recently gotten India on side, where India under previous and less right-wing governments was once one of her harshest critics.

Apart from the fact that a number of the cutting edge technology are of US origin with US vetoing power of sales, the US has very strong control over any Israeli originated technology as well, because she is Israel strongest and probably sole benefactor.

The US disapproval of the Phalcon sale wasn’t so much to deny China the ability to detect the US planes but rather, more on the need to ensure that China does not develop an edge over Taiwan’s defence capability. The Phalcon is not an OTH (over-the-horizon) radar.

There is only one OTH radar in the world, and that is in Australia. The Jindalee OTH radar system is an Australian development, employing HF or longer wave frequency for OTH coverage. The usual short wave technology used on all radars is basically a line of sight capability, and cannot ‘see’ OTH. Sorry, apart from this very basic description I don’t have the knowledge to expand on how the Jindalee works. The US has shown enormous interest in the technology. It’s ideal for large countries with a need to see beyond the horizon for airborne or even seaborne threats.

Israel is a well-known arms exporter and has a reputable capability for refurbishing, upgrading and modifying military aircraft, particularly fighters and fighter-bombers. She has had various contracts from countries like Turkey and several former USSR states.

July 21, 2004 @ 5:51 pm | Comment

Asia by Blog

Joe at Winds of Change kindly cross-posted the last edition and in return I’m pinching his formatting idea. Let that be a lesson to you. And now on with the show of Asia’s blogging’s best: Hong Kong, Taiwan and China Phil Sen looks at who would win a w…

July 22, 2004 @ 12:20 am | Comment

Jacky, be sure to read Josepjh Bosco’s posts on this topic; very interesting. (The Longbow Papers.)

July 22, 2004 @ 10:25 am | Comment

Thanks Richard I did.

I see Phil’s qualified writeup and conclusion seems to coincide with my personal views.

The Carnegie paper by Swaine is most certainly comprehensive and makes delightful perusal – an assessment and analytical review of the Taiwan situation.

July 23, 2004 @ 2:24 am | Comment

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