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  • Beijing Extends Helping Hand—and Its Reach

    Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) recruits

    In the course of an eventful week, the People’s Republic of China has had a chance to display the full range of modern capabilities that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is acquiring.

    At one end, on January 11, the Chinese announced that they had successfully engaged in a mid-course interception of a missile. While the Chinese have not been forthcoming with much information about the test, including the type of interceptor, the target, or the location of the test, the test, which has been confirmed by the US DOD, puts potential adversaries on notice that China is developing an anti-missile capability. The implications of such a development are likely to be felt not only in Washington and Taipei, which do not rely on ballistic missiles for most of their defense needs, but also New Delhi, which does.

    Furthermore, China’s anti-missile test now appears to have, potentially, anti-satellite applications. The test is reported to have occurred exo-atmospherically. That, coupled with the date, January 11, three years to the day that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) used their anti-satellite (ASAT) system to destroy a defunct Chinese weather satellite, suggests that this test may have been part of a larger anti-satellite program.

    Hopefully, this will put an end to the speculation that the original ASAT test was the work of a rogue PLA, or engineers run amuck. Instead, it is important (and long overdue) to recognize the Chinese effort to secure space superiority is a sustained, long-standing one from which the Chinese will not be lightly dissuaded. The PLA has written a great deal about the importance of dominating space in the event of conflict. This most recent test provides further incentive to take Chinese military writings seriously.

    At the other end, some 60 Chinese rescue personnel have been dispatched to Haiti to assist in rescue and relief efforts. The Chinese team is drawn from the China International Search and Rescue Team, which is a combined civilian-military unit including personnel drawn from China’s Seismological Bureau, PLA engineers, and People’s Armed Police (PAP) medical staff.

    Part of the motivation for this effort is simple humanitarian impulses to assist the devastated country, as well as the desire to find fellow Chinese troops (125 Chinese peacekeepers were deployed in Haiti, and 8 are among the missing). Nonetheless, the prompt deployment of Chinese personnel, even if they will be integrated into larger relief efforts, also serves as a reminder that the PLA is increasingly operating away from China’s shores, and can now even function (albeit at very minimal levels) in America’s own backyard.

    The deployment also counters Taiwan (with whom Haiti maintains diplomatic relations and which has sent its own rescue team), and redresses China’s poor performance in 2004 in the wake of the Indonesia tsunami. Then, China’s response was delayed and poorly coordinated, despite its proximity to China’s own shores.

    This deployment neatly book-ends with China’s high-end anti-missile/anti-satellite test to show that China can now both field technologically sophisticated systems and engage in low-technology, military-operations-other-than-war (MOOTW). At the same time, it also underscores China’s intention to be more of a player in international affairs, including responses to major natural disasters.

    As China’s international profile continues to expand in line with its global economic interests and burgeoning military capability, further displays at both ends of the capability spectrum can be expected.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Beijing Extends Helping Hand—and Its Reach

    1. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      Wow, a whole sixty Chinese people going to help Haiti. The amount of their money sent and other aide was just as meaningless. As for their missles, we, America, must remember that China is not worried about us as a target, but rather, Idia, Pakistan, Japan, Russia, and lots of others. China is also in a finacial meltdown, thanks to the good old USA.

      Our enemy needs to remain focused on the Terrorist, wherever they are, and to be rid of them by whatever means needed, and do not rule out nuclear.

    2. John B. San Diego says:

      Antipathy for United States’ world leadership role in military and economic standing has set the stage for the current administration’s destructionist attitude on a global scale.

      Allies and Enemies alike understand the underlying current direction also the motivations of this administration foriegn policy takes a backseat to true American Agenda as projected in the past.

      The opportunity is huge for those seeking to take advantage of the moment.

      The door has been opened; trade agreements set up in the past combined with weak-knee security policy and a deficiency in monetary strength has placed adversaries in position of power on negotiations from many angles.

      #1 Intellectual Property Protection is at a tremendous disadvantage.

      For us to negotiation of a solution will be very tough.

      We petition the Chinese to grant individual freedoms among Chinese

      Citizens while we attempt to deny PLA access to our secure government web

      sites.

      Too late ….we have either given too much info away and not protected our

      “Precious Data” from being hacked!

      #2 Ability of Chinese technology to remove critical assets in near earth orbit.

      What type of "pinball" event would take place if anyone for that matter were

      To engage in satellite warfare…..it is unthinkable, close in consequence to a

      Nuclear exchange. Thank-You Pres. Cliton

      #3 The United States current stated objectives and lack of econmic ability to go

      after true national defense objectives leaves the U.S. vulnerable in Finacial

      Capabilities and local resoucres with no doubt, the U.S. can't manufacture a

      pair of undershorts don't the American People know that and doesn't China

      realize the same?

      I am confident the U.S. military has played out potential scenarios for Solar Events. Chinese Satellite Pinball and Cyber-Attacks and trained our personnel and equipped our armed forces with assets and abilities to take a step back from leading edge technology and still be capable of dead reckoning.

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