On Sept. 1, the Xinhua news agency published excerpts from a white paper on the government's policies and positions on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. The aim was to create an image of Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as an "angel of peace" prior to his planned North American trip.
China rushed out the report in response to the threat to use nuclear missiles against the US in mid-July made by Major General Zhu Chenghu (
Before discussing this issue, it is necessary to clarify a sentence in the white paper -- "China's national defense budget has been reviewed and approved by the National People's Congress, and it is both public and transparent."
According to the "Report regarding the implementation of the 2004 budgets for the central and local governments and the draft 2005 budgets for the central and local governments," this year's defense budget says: "To improve the ability of our military to use advanced technology in defensive warfare, respond to sudden incidents and protect our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, 244.656 billion yuan [US$30.3 billion] has been allotted to national defense, an increase of 12.6 percent over last year." Given only this figure and ignoring the rest because they are "military secrets," the congress passed the budget.
Is this what they mean by "public and transparent?" Basing the report on such a lie also makes the whole report a lie.
The white paper's first topic is an explanation of China's nuclear-arms policy. It reiterates the claim that China will not be the first to use nuclear arms. Repeating it 100 times, however, would still be useless, since Beijing hasn't punished Zhu for airing an opinion that violates government policy. If Zhu did not violate discipline, then the white paper is a big lie.
The second topic deals with biological weapons. The white paper states that China respects its obligations under international treaties, but it doesn't deny that it is conducting research into such weapons. The reason this topic is discussed is that there have been outbreaks of strange diseases in recent years, raising suspicions that these stem from viruses developed in biological warfare-related research. The outbreaks have been classified as national secrets. Leaking any details about them is banned. Why the ban if these are not military secrets?
The third topic deals with "preventative" policies. Last year, Chinese submarines went as far as Guam for "preventative" purposes. During the recent Sino-Russian military exercise, Russia used long-distance bombers that China is considering purchasing. It might get both technology and patents, allowing it to build its own planes. These aircraft can fly 5,700km without refueling, which is more than the distance from the China's coast to the west coast of the US. If China builds these planes, we can only wonder where it plans to drop its bombs.
The fourth topic is troop reduction and maintaining a low level of defense spending. The two issues are lumped together to show that increased military expenditure is largely due to improving the welfare and pay of military personnel. The size of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been almost halved since 1985. But since 1989, China's defense expenditures have increased by two-digit figures annually.
If the above were true, PLA personnel would be very well-off, so it is odd that veterans have made so many appeals for better treatment that Beijing had to ban further appeals. It is evident that all the increased defense spending has gone toward purchasing weapons or been embezzled. In any case, it is widely accepted that China's actual military expenditure is three times the stated amount.
Fifth, China claims that it has been active in international non-proliferation efforts. Not true. Nuclear and missile technology in North Korea, Iran and Pakistan can all be linked to China's weapons proliferation. Last October, the Sinopec Group signed an oil-gas agreement with Iran in exchange for closer military ties.
The white paper also makes threats against other nations. It says "China does not wish to see a missile-defense system produce a negative impact on global strategic stability." It also says "As the Taiwan question involves its core interests, China opposes the attempt by any country to provide help or protection to the Taiwan region of China in the field of missile defense by any means."
China does not explain what it means by "core interests" but clearly this is a reference to the interests of the senior leadership.
All this proves that China is no more than a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.
Translated by Perry Svensson and Lin Ya-ti
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