The “China threat” grows more sinister (maybe)

Funny, how Bill Gertz of the Washington Times always seems to take the lead in pointing out new evidence of China’s dire threat to America. Now he’s telling us commercial photos indicate the magnitude of China’s nuclear build-up.

Commercial satellite photos made public recently provide a new look at China’s nuclear forces and bases — images that include the first view of a secret underwater submarine tunnel.

A Pentagon official said the photograph of the tunnel entrance reveals for the first time a key element of China’s hidden military buildup. Similar but more detailed intelligence photos of the entrance are highly classified within the U.S. government, the official said.

“The Chinese have a whole network of secret facilities that the U.S. government understands but cannot make public,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “This is the first public revelation of China’s secret buildup.”

The photographs, taken from 2000 to 2004, show China’s Xia-class ballistic missile submarine docked at the Jianggezhuang base, located on the Yellow Sea in Shandong province.

It’s a slick piece, bringing up ominous quotes Rumsfeld made some months ago about China’s secret military buuldup. As usual, it seems designed to fan the flames of fear, mostly based on an anonymous Pentagon quote and old photos.

I’ve written about Gertz’s hysteria before.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

Although I don’t trust the CCP or the PLA, it does not mean they want to lose power through a war with the US, like the party in 1984 all they want is power.

Also, I feel the Gertz and the crew at the Washington Times just want to help their friends at lockheed sell more planes and bombs.

On a side note, is there only one photo the jiangzhuang subbase on the washington times website?

February 16, 2006 @ 10:54 am | Comment

Can that article use the word “secret” a few more times? Geez, it’s so surprising and sinister that China actually has military “secrets” (which apparently everybody knows about anyway).

February 16, 2006 @ 12:19 pm | Comment

You neglect to point out Richard that Gertz is in fact using the work of a couple of left-wing think-tanks (including Hans Kristiensen – hardly a friend of the US military industrial complex). Go to the original report at Imaging Notes and see what they have to say before critiquing this as merely another beat-up job by the Republican far right militarists. Certainly no surprise that Gertz would find it attractive though given the content. The photos are not “old”, in fact they demonstrate the power we ordinary people have got only in the last few years to obtain imagery of sensitive military facilities that up until 2000 or so we would never have seen. They also add weight to a point that many have considered arguable in previous “militarist” assessments – that the PRC does engage in deliberate considered deception regarding its military posture and capabilities.

February 16, 2006 @ 12:39 pm | Comment

When the US itself opens the gate, it has no cause to blame the horses for bolting.
It would be instructive to compare the wars the US fought over the last 25 years (most with its weak and pathetic neighbours) and those the Chinese fought.

February 16, 2006 @ 3:19 pm | Comment

Yeah, why don’t we just let the Chinese and the Anglos destroy each other and get it over with?

I think that’s what some people mean by ‘global balance of power.’

February 16, 2006 @ 5:00 pm | Comment

Arf, SECRET MILITARY BUILD screams Bill Gertz!

Underground sub pens and nuclear facilities built over 30 years ago when Mao was still alive whispers reality.

The photos are not old Dylan, only from 2000-2004, but the facilities are neither new or even that secret. Obviously China does not disclose publically its nuclear facilities and deployment, but who does. Claim this as proof as some sort of insidious Chinese military build up is the same as taking a couple satellite photos of minuteman silos and claiming that the U.S. is rapidly expanding its nuclear force despite those silos being built decades ago.

February 16, 2006 @ 5:50 pm | Comment

Certainly Gertz puts his alarmist spin on things as is to be expected. Nevertheless, as in most of his reports there are kernels of information worth knowing in amongst the political rhetoric which one can take or leave depending on one’s personal inclinations. Such as the information about a US National Intelligence Estimate on China, or the DIA estimate projecting PLA nuclear forces into the future.

Lets be clear, the words of a “buildup” are not Gertz’s but those of an unnamed “Pentagon official” source. The Pentagon source says China denies having underground submarine facilities. These photos indicate fairly clearly such facilities exist. I expect that is the point being made (probably to other officials in the US government who are inclined to take what the PLA tells them at face value). It may also relate to Rumsfeld’s visit to China when he told the PLA he wanted to visit the Second Artillery underground command centre and they told him no such thing existed and took him on a “dog-and-pony” tour of the Second Artillery administrative base.

February 16, 2006 @ 6:57 pm | Comment

I’m sure there are nuggets of truth and insight in what gertz writes. However, his tendency to make things sound ominous and imminent detracts from his creibiltiy, and really bugs me, besides.

February 16, 2006 @ 7:09 pm | Comment

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists had a recent article on Chinaโ€™s nuclear arsenal. Using U.S. Intelligence, they believe China only has around 80 nuclear weapons and 18 ICBMs capable of hitting the US. Obviously, Chinaโ€™s is maintaining a minimal nuclear deterrent as theyโ€™re capable of producing hundreds more nuclear weapons if they wanted to.

http://www.thebulletin.org/article.php?art_ofn=mj05lewis

February 16, 2006 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

Wait just one minute, in order for Chia to be a threat, you need both intent and capability.

Right now, China has the capability, but not the intent.

February 17, 2006 @ 2:00 am | Comment

If China’s military build up is a threat to America, then shouldn’t it also be said that America’s plan to build a new generation of nukes, is a threat to China?

February 17, 2006 @ 2:02 am | Comment

America has 10s of thousends of troops in Japan and Korea, rigt on China’s doorstep, and it doesn’t consider this to be a threatening gesture, yet were China to send even one SAM battery to Cuba, America would act like it was an act of war.

February 17, 2006 @ 2:04 am | Comment

ACB,

1. I agree that the entire world (including the people of the US) ought to see a new generation of nukes as a threat to the whole world.
Including America. I’m for gradual – but ultimately absolute – nuclear disarmament. However:

2. America’s military presence in Japan and Korea did not begin as an act of agression against anyone, but as an act of defense against the Japanese, who attacked us (and Korea and China.) America’s military presence was NOT established for aggressive purposes in Korea and Japan – and in the case of Japan in particular, America had a DUTY under international law to occupy the country after the war.
And since that time, for 60 years, America’s military presence in Japan and Korea have kept stability in the region. (And China ought to thank us for that, for keeping Japan under control. ๐Ÿ™‚

That is categorically different from the hypothetical of China sending its military to Cuba, as it would NOT be an act of defense for China.

But I’m with you when it comes to the nukes. All nukes, ALL nukes must be destroyed. And that’s exactly why America should be cooperating a lot more with Russia right now – and with China in the more distant future, after China becomes more trustworthy and less belligerently nationalistic.

February 17, 2006 @ 2:46 am | Comment

“Right now, China has the capability, but not the intent.”

A bit less abstractly, last spring a Chinese general by the name of Zhu Chenghu told the Asian Wall Street Journal that if America were to “intervene on Taiwan’s behalf,” China would use nuclear weapons. He conceded that China would probably lose all of its cities east of Xian but that such a price was acceptable collateral for the destruction of Los Angeles and the prize of Taipei.
The U.S. State Department’s response was that the good general’s comments were “highly irresponsible.”
I followed the story as it played out and don’t recall any Chinese news ageny or high-ranking government official chastising general Zhu for his not so veiled threat.
My point, ACB, is that you can go on about perceived threats to China until you are blue in the face, but the fact is that no government on earth has informed the CCP of its willingness to vaporize Beijing. To put the shoe on the other foot, can you imagine if a U.S. general had said as much?

February 17, 2006 @ 12:45 pm | Comment

Nuclear Ambitions

The Peking Duck thinks that this story is ‘designed to fan the flames of fear’ and ‘hysterical’, but as someone who quite enjoys being paranoid and hysterical I quite enjoyed it. Read the original Washington Times piece here….

February 17, 2006 @ 1:56 pm | Comment

Ivan

“America’s military presence in Japan and Korea did not begin as an act of agression against anyone, but as an act of defense against the Japanese,”

Respectfully, I will have to disagree with you, at least from a moral point of view.

Think back to how you felt when Russia tried to move nukes to Cuba. This is how China feels about US troops in Japan and Korea.

February 18, 2006 @ 9:43 am | Comment

Liu Yixi:

“last spring a Chinese general by the name of Zhu Chenghu told the Asian Wall Street Journal that if America were to “intervene on Taiwan’s behalf,” China would use nuclear weapons.”

As China considers Taiwan to be part of itself, an American move in support of Taiwan would be (to China) an agressive act against Chinese territory.

In China’s eyes, it would be retaliating.

Ameirca, on the other hand, has publicly stated that if it even suspected a country of developing a WMD to use against it, it would reserve the right use a wmd on them first. This is worse because it is a preemptive strike.

Personally, I believe that the possibility of loosing LA or some other city to a Chinese nuke is a good peace keeper. It keeps Bushes mind focused on negotiations.

February 18, 2006 @ 9:49 am | Comment

ACB:

“Wait just one minute, in order for Chia to be a threat, you need both intent and capability.

A) Right now, China has the capability, but not the intent.”
Posted by ACB at February 17, 2006 02:00 AM

B) “…….Personally, I believe that the possibility of loosing LA or some other city to a Chinese nuke is a good peace keeper. It keeps Bushes mind focused on negotiations.”
Posted by ACB at February 18, 2006 09:49 AM

You have made no effort to square your first statement A) with your second B). Without this you appear inconsistent/capricious and lack credibility as an impartial commentator.

“As China considers Taiwan to be part of itself, an American move in support of Taiwan would be (to China) an agressive act against Chinese territory.”

You’re writing English words but we aren’t talking the same language. How can “support” even of a “part of” China be an aggressive act? This distortion of words and concepts renders language meaningless. If done unintentionally, fine although unfortunate; but historically speaking one can see similar distortions in the propaganda/dogma of dangerous and unpredictable regimes. It allows sloppy thinking and rabble-rousing.

Lastly:

“America’s military presence in Japan and Korea did not begin as an act of agression against anyone, but as an act of defense against the Japanese,”

Respectfully, I will have to disagree with you, at least from a moral point of view.”

A neutral question: How exactly was American presence in Japan and Korea not an act of defence against the Japanese? Please elaborate. Feel free to disagree with others, even from a moral point of view (what is that by the way?) but at least say why you hold a particular viewpoint.

February 20, 2006 @ 2:31 am | Comment

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