October 1, 2008

A draft report recommends that the United States build new missile, sea-based and space-based defenses to deal with China’s growing nuclear and conventional forces, a newspaper said Wednesday.

The draft by a State Department advisory board said China aims to build forces that are not just capable of retaking Taiwan but also of projecting power beyond east Asia, The Washington Times reported.

China’s “major objective is to counter US presence and US military capabilities in East Asia through the acquisition of offensive capacities in critical functional areas that systematically exploit US vulnerabilities,” it quoted the report as saying.

China is developing capabilities for “asymmetric warfare,” such as space and computer weapons, that could help it defeat stronger US armed forces, according to a copy of the draft the daily said it had obtained.

The report warned of gaps in US missile defenses, dependence on space for communications, reliance on aircraft carriers to project power to China’s shores, and “fragile electronics and the Internet,” the newspaper said.

The draft recommends that the United States obtain new offensive space and cyber warfare capabilities and missile defenses as well as “more robust sea- and space-based capabilities” to deter any crisis over Taiwan, the daily said.

The ISAB report said China was headed for expansion after centuries as a regional power.

“In China’s view, Taiwan is the key to breakout: If China is to become a global power, the first step must include control of this island,” the report was quoted as saying.

Once it controls the island of Taiwan, China would then be able to control the neighboring seas and to project power eastward, according to the report.

The draft by the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) is significant, it added, because US government and private-sector analyses have until now not seen China as a US security challenge.

The Washington Times said the report has not been officially released, but could be released in a few weeks.

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