SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Thank you all for being here. I appreciate the opportunity to brief you, this afternoon, on the 2009 edition of the Department of Defense's annual report Congress on Military Power of the People's Republic of China.
This is an important document. And I encourage you all to read it. It's available on Defense Link now. So it's something that you can download and read, the entire report.
The completion, coordination and submission of this document reflect not only the timeliness of the information it contains but also the strong commitment, on the part of the leadership of the department, to maintain a robust dialogue with our Congress on this issue. They're the ones that ask for the report, which is of utmost importance to our current and future national strategy.
China's rapid rise as a regional political and economic power with growing global influence has significantimplications for the Asia Pacific region and the world. U.S. policy seeks to establish a positive and cooperative relationship, with China, one where we deepen and strengthen our ties, on a number of issues of common interest, while candidly addressing differences where they persist.
Much of what we do, however, depends on the choices that China makes about its future, both at home and abroad.
The United States welcomes the rise of a stable, peaceful and prosperous China and encourages China -- participate responsibly in world affairs by taking on a greater share of the burden for the stability, resilience and growth of the international system.
We seek continued improvement in the overall U.S.-China relationship, including the defense relationship. We welcome, for example, China's hosting of the fourth annual U.S.-China Defense Policy Coordination Talks in late February in Beijing. And we'll continue to seize opportunities to build a more cooperative military relationship with China for the present and for the long term.
However, much uncertainty surrounds China's future course, in particular in the area that's expanding military power and how that power might be used. At the Department of Defense, it's our job to watch the growth of China's military power and maintain deterrence of conflict. Those two jobs are complicated by the fact that while China has embarked on a significant military modernization program, the transparency and openness with which China's conducting this effort is lacking.
The fiscal year 2000 National Defense Authorization Act mandated that we publish both a classified and unclassified report annually on China's military power. And this is the unclassified report, obviously, is what we're going to be talking about this afternoon.
The report is a Department of Defense product transmitted to Congress by the Secretary of Defense. However, it's been coordinated with other agencies of the U.S. government, including the National Security Council and the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, Energy, Commerce, Treasury. And it's had extensive vetting and coordination through the intelligence community. And as such, although it is a Department of Defense document, it does reflect the views held broadly across the U.S. government when it comes to China's military power.
China's People's Liberation Army is pursuing a comprehensive transformation from a mass army designed for protracted wars of attrition on its territory to one that's capable of fighting and winning short-duration, high-intensity conflicts along its periphery against high-tech adversaries, an approach that China itself refers to as fighting and winning local wars under conditions of informatization.
The pace and scope of China's military transformation have increased in recent years, fueled by acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, and far-reaching organizational and doctrinal reforms of the armed forces.
Now, with that context, I'd like to briefly summarize some of the specific developments that we see and report on in this year's document. Excuse me. China appears to be pursuing a set of enduring strategic priorities which we identify in this report as, first, perpetuating the role of the Chinese Communist Party, continuing economic development, ensuring domestic stability, protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity and obtaining great-power status.
Economic development affects all of these priorities and is a key driver in China's overall grand strategy. This explains China's focus on securing access to foreign resources and markets. China's comprehensive military modernization is supported by continued increases in government funding. China's announced 2008 defense budget was approximately $60 billion U.S., which was about a 17.6 percent -- almost 18 percent increase from the previous year.
However, estimating China's actual defense spending is difficult, due to a lack of accounting transparency and China's still-incomplete transition from a command economy. Moreover, China's public defense budget does not include large categories of expenditure.
DOD estimates that China's total defense expenditures for 2000 (sic) could be somewhere between $105 and 150 billion U.S.
Q What year was that you said?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Pardon me -- 2008.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: And we include charts in the report that show a comparison both of China's publicly announced defense budget -- our low estimate and our high estimate -- and we also show a comparison between China's -- the different estimates for China's defense expenditure and how it compares to other regional powers in terms of the comparison between China and others.
China's defense industry is also modernizing, with support from increased government investment, foreign technology acquisition and integration with the civilian economy.
China's domestic defense industry base is improving. Overall trends to date favor the space and missile industry, but China still relies on Russia for advanced engines, propulsion and advanced electronics.
As China's military modernization progresses, it's adopting certain skills and capabilities consistent with the characteristics of modern militaries, while at the same time it's seeking ways to exploit perceived limitations and vulnerabilities of those militaries through asymmetric means. And we also spend a good deal of time in the report talking about asymmetric warfare and China's approach to that.
The PLA's modernization vis-a-vis Taiwan has continued over the past year, including its build-up of short-range missiles opposite the island. In the near term, China's armed forces are rapidly developing coercive capabilities for the purposes of deterring Taiwan's pursuit of de jure independence. These same capabilities could, in the future, be used to pressure Taiwan toward a settlement of the cross-strait dispute on PRC terms while simultaneously attempting to deter, delay or deny possible U.S. support for the island in case of conflict.
This modernization and the threat to Taiwan continues despite the reduction in cross-strait tensions over the last year, since Taiwan elected a new president.
The PLA is also developing longer-range capabilities that have implications beyond Taiwan. Some of these capabilities have allowed it to contribute cooperatively to the international community's responsibilities in areas such as peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counterpiracy. And we have a special topic at the end of the report this year that goes into some detail about China's roles and activities in that area.
However, some of these capabilities, as well as other, more disruptive ones, could allow China to project power to ensure access to resources or to enforce claims to disputed territories. In this regard, we see a continued emphasis on building capacity for sea- and land-based anti-access and aerial denial operations. And as an example, in the maritime domain, China's maritime anti-access and aerial denial capabilities increasingly appear geared toward coordinated operations to interdict at long ranges aircraft carriers or expeditionary strike groups out into the Western Pacific.
China's military is also enhancing its strategic capabilities in the nuclear, space and cyberspace domains. And in this context it's developing new generations of land- and sea-based nuclear missiles capable of targeting the United States as well as other regional powers. And this includes the road-mobile solid-fueled intercontinental-range ballistic missiles like the DF-31 and the DF-31A, as well as the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile for deployment aboard the new Jin-class ballistic missile submarine -- the Chinese call it the Type 094 -- which we expect to IOC this year or perhaps next year.
This is one of the primary reasons why we've prioritized the dialogue on nuclear policy and doctrine with the Chinese PLA, to gain a better understanding of these developments and to reduce the risk of miscalculation.
Despite the welcome improvement in China's routine publication of defense white papers -- the most recent one being the 2008, or China's National Defense in 2008, which was published in January 2009 -- much more could be said by China about its military buildup. We're working to improve communication with the PLA -- and there are some promising developments in this regard.
China has resumed reporting its defense expenditure to the United Nations. However, its decision to employ the simplified reporting form suggests that China's leaders have not yet committed fully to the idea of military transparency as a confidence-building measure. And I'd point to page 33 of the report, where we provide an example -- or actually, the report that China submitted to the U.N. -- to show that it's still fairly highly-aggregated data about its defense spending.
The PRC last year also agreed to establish a defense telephone link between the Department of Defense and their ministry of defense. That installation was completed in March, and Secretary Gates used it to talk to his counterpart for the first time in April of last year.
China also decided to deploy naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden, to conduct counter-piracy operations. These are welcome developments and an example of the kinds of areas where we can cooperate.
Beijing publicly asserts that China's military modernization is purely defensive in nature and aimed solely at protecting China's security and interests. But over the past several years, China has begun a new phase in military development and is beginning to articulate roles and missions for the PLA that go beyond China's immediate territorial interests, but China has left unclear to the international community the purposes and objectives of China's evolving doctrine and capabilities.
Moreover, China continues to promulgate incomplete defense expenditure figures and engage in actions that appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies. The limited transparency in China's military and security affairs poses risks to stability by creating uncertainty and increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation. The United States continues to work with our allies and friends in the region to monitor these developments and adjust our policies accordingly.
The report makes clear that China's military power is not just a U.S.-China issue, but it's an issue of interest to the entire region, and perhaps even an issue of global concern. And again, I would direct your attention to the special topic at the end of the report, which speaks directly to that issue on China's global engagement.
In this chapter we talk about PLA participation in traditional military diplomacy, joint exercises, arms sales and security assistance activities, peace support operations and humanitarian disaster relief operations.
And just a couple of data points that are of note:
Between 2002 and 2007 the PLA participated in at least 14 maritime search and rescue exercises with foreign militaries, and since 2003 China has invited foreign observers to at least five of their own exercises.
From 2003 to 2007 China sold nearly $7 billion worth of conventional weapons systems worldwide, and China's primary customer in this regard has been Pakistan.
Since 2002 China has deployed over 10,000 personnel to 18 U.N. peace operations, with 1,800 PRC personnel serving in the U.N. missions in 2008. And since 2002 the PLA has been involved in 10 emergency relief operations in 14 countries in China's immediate region. So that again just underscores that China's becoming more active and becoming more engaged in the world.
In conclusion, we think the report has a lot of interesting information in it, and we hope it'll contribute in a responsible fashion to the many debates that are ongoing with respect to the military dimensions of China's military modernization.
And so with that I'd like to end the prepared part and answer any questions you might have. And how do you want to do this?
MODERATOR: You can call on them.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay.
Q Do you think the incident -- I know the Impeccable is not in your report, but do you think the incident with the Impeccable is part of an anti-access strategy, or do you see it more as a tactical thing that happened at the practical level and wasn't signed off by Beijing?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think there's a lot that we still don't know yet about, you know, the motivations of that incident.
I think one thing -- you know, China's very sensitive about what it perceives to be as its territorial claims. And so I think a lot of that is consistent with the PLA's overall mission that it's been given to protect and defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
You know, with respect to the specific activities, I mean, I think that's been talked about previously. Obviously it's dangerous, and these are things that we've got mechanisms with the PLA that we want to be able to work with, as well as our diplomatic engagements, to try to, you know, hope that we won't see that type of incident repeat itself.
Q Couldn't -- the report talks about how China is modernizing at a rate that it is shifting the military balance in the region. Can you talk a little bit more about that, what exactly that means, what countries are affected?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, I think, you know, there's a number of countries that can be affected. Certainly if you start looking at, you know, just the aggregated defense expenditures and the comparisons, with the other countries in the region, you know, it shows that, you know, China is now spending a lot more for its military than just about everybody else in the region. I think it is everybody else in the region.
Some of the capabilities that China is developing, whether it's on the conventional, you know, precision-strike ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, these types of things, these are capabilities that most of the other countries, all of the other countries, don't really have. And so when you look at it in that context, these are capabilities that affect the overall balances.
When we start -- you know, when we start looking at projecting that type of military capability out, whether it's in an anti-access, area-of-denial context or just a more traditional power-projection capability, it does affect how the military balance plays out and then affects how other countries think, about their own security interests.
Q –Beyond the region, did you all look at , for example, how many years or decades China may be out from being able to challenge the U.S. militarily?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We didn't actually conduct that assessment in this report. So we don't make that judgment.
Q Standing back from China's missile development, is there anything that happened, in 2008, that gives you a greater sense of urgency, to build an anti-Chinese missile defense? Or do we have plenty of time, and things are pretty much where you left last -- the year before?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't think there's anything that happened, within China, you know, last year that would have us change our policy, you know, with respect to missile defense. But we don't use this report to talk about our missile defense policy.
Q But there's no sense of urgency because of Chinese missile developments.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I can't speak to our missile defense policy on that.
Q The report seems to confirm that the Chinese have established a navy base on Hainan Island. Is that correct?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The Chinese operate off of Hainan Island.
Q It looks like there's a new base there. This base appears very much a part of the mix. So you're confirming what -- I think think tanks have talked about it. But this is the first I've heard DOD confirm it.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yes, I mean, it's -- I mean, they've got a naval base there. But I mean, I can't speak to whether it's ever been mentioned in any other type of DOD product. But I know that this is the first time that we talked about that, that base, in this report.
Q And what does it mean for the U.S. posture in the Pacific?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think I'd have to refer you to USPACOM on that. I don't know if it necessarily affects our posture. I mean, the way that we conduct our posture in the Pacific is, it's not targeted at any one particular country.
I mean, we've got capabilities and force allocation based on, you know, not only our own operations but our cooperation with friends and allies. And you know, the way our posture works is, it allows us the type of flexibility to respond to a variety of different contingencies in the region.
Q You have a great line in the report. It goes something like, China is negotiating transparency rather than accepting transparency as a responsibility of a world power. What would you like to see China do in the next year to be more transparent?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, I think the actual line in this is --
Q I was paraphrasing.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: -- you know, until China stops viewing transparency as a transaction to be negotiated and more as a -- as a responsibility that accompanies accumulation of influence, then the findings in this report will be limited.
In terms of what we're actually -- I couldn't provide a catalogue of things -- you know, this is what, you know, China needs to do. I mean, transparency is in part -- you know, it's an openness and a willingness to be able to talk about things and recognize that, you know, your military behavior and activities has consequences for the region and to be able to provide the type of assurance through -- that only comes through transparency so that people understand what your intentions are and what your capabilities are.
And that could be manifest in discussions that we can have at a military-to-military level, but it also can be manifest in, you know, improvements to the publication of defense white paper, where they could provide more information in more detail on that. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to happen this year, because they're on a(n) every-other-year publication cycle, but it's something that we'll continue working with them on.
Q Do you feel, though, there's progress in transparency overall last year?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think -- yeah, there's been a -- there's been an overall trend of incremental and modest improvements in transparency. And that's something that we welcome and we want to -- we want to encourage -- we want to encourage them to continue.
Q Does China today have the ability to deter, delay or deny any U.S. military action in defense of Taiwan?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We don't actually do that kind of assessment in this report, and I'm probably not the best person to talk about that. That's -- that gets into an operational question. I mean, that's something that the U.S. PACOM would probably be better suited to answer.
Q But it's just a quote, and it says that's what they're attempting to do.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Right.
Q But you don't go into whether they can do it now.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, we don't. I mean, they're attempting to do it.
Q And have they done anything in the past year that would be in this report that would enhance your concerns or cause PACOM to reconsider some of its operations or change any of its operations?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No.
Q So no major change.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: On the --
Q They didn't cross any major threshold.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No. No. I mean -- I mean, we continue to watch China's military developments and we -- you know, we adjust accordingly.
Last year -- I don't think there was any -- too many significant developments in terms of new capabilities being revealed -- you know, significant new capabilities being revealed. So the answer to your question, no.
Q Can you maybe explain in layman's terms what some of these longer-range capabilities and more disruptive capabilities are that you mention in the report?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Longer-range capabilities could include conventional ballistic missiles, both the short-range ballistic missiles like the ones that are deployed opposite Taiwan, but also longer-range, like conventional medium-range ballistic missiles, which is something that they're working on, as well as the DF-21D, which is an anti-ship ballistic missile that they're working on. That's based on a CSS-5 medium-range ballistic missile air frame. Those are the types of things that we would consider, you know, disruptive in terms of longer-range capabilities.
But you also have disruptive capabilities more on the nontraditional side, where, you know, it's the counter-space systems, not only the anti-satellite weapon that they tested in 2007, but also other types of counter-space or space control systems, like satellite communication jammers, directed energy weapons, these types of things.
And when we talk about what a disruptive capability is, I mean, a lot of those things kind of fall into the category that would be anti-access and area denial, or things that would significantly alter the extant military balance. You know, you could look at, you know, some of their advanced air-defense systems. Those are capabilities that allow them to project a(n) air defense envelope farther and farther from China and into the Western Pacific. So your capabilities certainly affect the security assessments of other countries.
Q Chinese military buildup has been going on for some time. And don't you think U.S. should be concerned, because Chinese are helping many other countries as far as in this (neighborhood even ?). And as far as this report is concerned, sir, what kind of message are you sending to India, how much India should be concerned?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, I think, you know, I mean, actually if you look at the special topic of the report, it talks about some of the security assistance and activities that China's doing with other countries in the region. I think, you know, it's something that we obviously continue monitoring, and there are some areas where this type of security assistance can contribute -- can be disruptive or destabilizing.
You know, so I would say that, yes, we are watching it and we pay very careful attention to it.
With respect to India, I mean, the report speaks for itself. And, you know, there's no particular message to India in this report, but certainly I think that, you know, what the report identifies is that China's pursuing a long-term comprehensive military modernization. It's continuing to expand its operations both, you know, within its immediate region but also potentially moving farther and farther away. And that's something that has been a long-standing trend and it's one that we're going to continue watching.
Q Any further U.S. and India military-to-military relations because of this report?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: This report doesn't talk about U.S.-India -- India relations. So, I mean, certainly we have -- we have a bilateral defense relationship with India and we talk about a whole range of -- a whole range of issues.
Q The report talks a lot about cyberwarfare. I'm wondering if you can characterize for us the organization of Chinese cyber-resources, and also if you can sort of tell us what your assessment is of the frequency and level and seriousness of attacks emanating from China.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: There's a lot of unknowns about cyberwarfare. And a lot of that has to do with the specific, you know, challenges associated with attribution. I mean, we do talk about some instances where we've seen what appears to be intrusions that originate from China, but, you know, the fidelity of that is still, you know, very difficult to ascertain.
But this is -- this is an occurrence that continues. And we've got a -- you know, we continue to watch this and monitor it and, you know, do our own things domestically to help improve our defenses.
Q Can you characterize whether the threat is growing or shrinking, or -- what trends have you seen in the past year regarding threats that at least are appearing to come from inside China?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: It's of growing concern to us. I think that's -- I can put it that way. How's that? Because we don't have quantitative measures included in the report, so I can't point to it and say that these numbers here show that it's increasing or decreasing.
But, you know, given the behavior and given the activities, it's something that we remain concerned about, particularly as it relates to, you know, the ability to access sensitive information.
Q Could you – walk us through the MMCA talks over the years and did they achieve anything? And did they touch on the rules of engagement? And also, on the nuclear talks and -- well, you're having with the Chinese did they also-- (off mike) -- suspend that kind of talks? And do we try -- (off mike) -- mil-to-mil dialogue like on DCT-- (off mike) -- and things like that?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We don't actually talk about those venues for interaction with the PLA in this report. But the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement, the MMCA, is an agreement that we signed with the PLA in 1998, and that's a venue that we have used to try to improve operational-level, you know, safety types of discussions for, you know, when our militaries interact on the high seas. And the -- and, you know, eventually we want to move it to the air space above it.
And we look forward to using those types of venues to be able to talk about issues like the -- like the recent incident with USNS Impeccable, because this is -- this is an important part, one, of our dialogue, but it's also an important part of encouraging China to adopt -- to adopt the kinds of safe operating patterns and behaviors and types of rules of the road.
You know, we're looking forward to, you know, scheduling the next meeting. But I think right now the ball's in China's court on that one.
With respect to the nuclear dialogue, this was an important -- this is an important event. We had our inaugural session last April, and this is something that Secretary Gates has talked about as being a very important part of our military dialogue with China. It's one of these areas where we can, you know, reduce the risk of miscalculation and misunderstanding. And we look to continue that dialogue as well.
And with respect to military-to-military engagements and interactions, you know, when Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was here a week and a half ago, he had meetings both at the State Department and the White House. And President Obama said we need to increase the level and frequency of the dialogue, and so we look forward to doing that.
Q Do you know if any military-to-military contacts might have been postponed or delayed because of the Impeccable incident? Did that play into it?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: None that I'm aware of. In fact, I mean, we've had and we continue to have interactions with the PLA both here in Washington and in Beijing. It's -- I mean, not that I'm aware of.
Q Can you speak a little bit to China's ambitions for a blue water navy, and in particular for power projection? And do they have intentions to basically build a navy that is reflective of the U.S.'s composition of their navy?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, that's a good question. I think right now within China -- and we talk about this a little bit in the chapter on military strategy and doctrine -- I think there are some debates within China, within its security establishment and its military-academic establishment and the PLA navy, over what type of future naval force it wants to build.
You know, we talk a little bit about these new historic missions that President Hu Jintao gave to the PLA I think back in 2004. The defense white paper talks about this as well. You know, I think that we're starting to see some thinking emerging from the PLA navy that they might want to adopt a slightly different approach to its naval strategy, maybe one more of a maritime strategic concept. And they might be looking around at different types of platforms and capabilities that they'd want to have that would allow them to operate for longer durations at farther distance from China's shores. And things like nuclear attack submarines, for example, would give them the ability to operate farther away from China.
But one of the things I think would be the real -- one of the signals of that would be if China goes forward with an aircraft carrier program. And we provide a little bit more evidence in this year's report, just based on things that came out last year, that China appears intent on doing that. And once they've develop that type of platform, that would give them the ability to project power and operate farther and farther away from China.
So they're looking at it, and we're watching that carefully, but I think there are still some issues that they want to resolve within China on how they want to do that.
Q I have a very simple question. It's about the report itself. As you mentioned, you know, China's military lack of transparency.. In my understanding, you cannot get the original (inaudible) -- of sources. So how can we trust this report? I mean, how could you get the results for the paper? I mean, how could you -- (inaudible) -- this report?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We rely on lots of inputs and information. We work very closely with other parts of the Department of Defense and our intelligence community. And so -- I mean, the report is what it is, and it reflects the information, as best as we know it.
Yeah, in the back, please.
Q (Inaudible) -- follow up on -- (inaudible) -- including Korea. While the U.S. has reduced -- is starting to reduce its -- (inaudible) -- class program, and a couple others, how do you plan to make the -- (inaudible)? What are your thoughts on the possibility of Asian allies threatening U.S. deterrence power?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think, you know -- I mean, our alliances and our partnerships in the region are a critical component of our overall strategy. Secretary Clinton recently visited China -- not China -- well, China and Japan, and then Korea -- I mean, she talked the role of Japan and Korean and our alliances with those two countries as really being cornerstones of our overall strategy in the region. And you know, those relationships then form a part of our overall ability to maintain the type of deterrence of conflict and to help maintain peace and stability. So I think a key part of our overall strategy is to continue working with our allies and partners to be able to maintain the type of, you know, regional security environment that has persisted for a long time in Asia. And I don't anticipate that that's going to change.
Q One more? Are you worried as far as Chinese and Pakistani military too? Its relationship with China is starting to -- if the U.S. troops are there or NATO troops in Afghanistan, any kind of worry for the U.S.?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We do note, in this report -- you know, we provide some information about China's long-standing defense and security cooperation with Pakistan. I think Pakistan's been the largest recipient of Chinese arms. And so that's something that we -- that's something that we continue to -- that's something that we continue to watch. And we'll continue to keep an eye on that.
Q As you know, the Chinese every year will come out the following day and criticize this report. Was there any discussion within the administration of toning down the report under the -- under President Obama, or have you maintained, do you think, the same tone?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: There's been no discussion within the -- no, I mean, absolutely not. You know, the report is intended to be, you know, factual, descriptive and analytical. So I think that's -- no.
Q What's your take on why the Chinese are continuing to increase the number of short-range ballistic missiles aimed across the Taiwan Strait every year by a hundred or so, as you say in this report? How does that reconcile with the recent, you know, thaw in cross-strait relations?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: You know, that's actually a question I'd like to hear the answer from the Chinese on, I mean, honestly.
Q How do the Chinese navy view the U.S. sending a nuclear-powered carrier to Japan? Do they view that as an agressive move?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't know. I haven't -- I haven't seen anything or heard if they -- if they -- if they respond to that or how they respond to that. Sorry.
Q One last thing on CSS -- the long-range missiles. Do you think they're embarked on a mutual deterrence strategy? Is that why they're developing long-range ballistic missiles?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Now, in terms of their strategic nuclear forces, I think -- you know, some of the terms of art that have been passed around is China is seeking to have, you know, sufficiency and effectiveness. I mean, they want to make sure that they can -- they can maintain a secure second strike option. And so, you know, moving from their historical liquid fuel, solid-based systems, which were their primary deterrent, to more mobile, solid-propellant systems, those are more survivable. And so what that does is that gives them a little bit more confidence and assurance that they would have an effective -- an effective deterrent.
Sufficiency is another question, how many -- how many do they need to have. And that's part of the reason why, you know, we'd like to get a better sense from them, which is why we want to have this dialogue. We started the dialogue last year, but we want to continue the dialogue on nuclear policy and strategy, so we can have a better understanding of the -- of the intentions and motivations behind their nuclear forces modernization. They continue to say that their no-first-use policy is in effect and will remain in effect. And you know, we take China at its word on that point. But you know, we have questions, because these capabilities give them options, new options. So we want to have a better understanding from them.
Q Do they have intercontinental missiles that could hit the United States at this moment?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yes, they do.
Q So that could be a mutual deterrence eventually.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: They have the capability. And you know, again, you know, that's part of the intention is to have a deterrent. And so some of their systems have the ability to target the United States.
Q Do you have some goals you'd like to reach, for military-to-military exchange, relations with China this year, something concrete rather than mid-level exchange?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, the mid-level exchanges are actually important. I mean, those are -- it's an important set of exchanges that we initiated, a couple years ago. It gives us and the Chinese PLA an opportunity to get a better understanding of our institutions. It's, you know, building, you know, mutual institutional understanding.
So that's a key aspect, because if you have mid-grade and junior officers, as they progress, they take those experiences and, you know, in some cases take them on to higher level positions. So I mean, those -- that is a concrete event. And that's something that we want to see continue.
We also have, you know, high-level visits that we'd like to be able to continue, exchanges between the senior leaders of our department and our services. And you know, U.S. Pacific Command has, you know, had, you know, senior-level visits with China in the past. And these are the types of exchanges we want to see continue.
And we also have been looking at, you know, educational types of exchanges, between our professional military education institutions and military academies. These are concrete events. They're important types of interactions that form a key part of our defense relationship.
Q What about more visible secretary-level or chairman of the Joint Chiefs or more visible events, things that you would like to achieve but may not be able to?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, we've had some discussions. When Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Sedney went to China, for the defense policy coordination talks, we talked about some high-level visits that we're proposing.
And we've also invited a number of high-level visitors to come to the United States. And we're still working through that with the PLA on identifying timing for that. And those are things that we look forward to doing. But we still need to continue working with the PLA to set those up.
Q Did the Impeccable set that back?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The Impeccable just happened. (Laughs, laughter.)
Q You had those meetings, like, two days before the Impeccable.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Right.
Q But if you're supposed to be communicating with them to try to arrange visits, did the Impeccable incident have any impact on that?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Not that I can tell. I mean, we actually, I think -- we've got some high-level visits there that are lined up pretty soon, and we (want to be able ?) to execute those.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: April.
Q (Off mike.)
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Right. (Laughter.) I mean, you know, I'm here to talk about the military power report. I'm not here to talk about mil to mil, because, you know I don't have the data points right now on all of the events that are scheduled and what we're looking to do. I'm sorry. I mean, this is what the purpose of this briefing was for.
Q Thank you.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yes?
Q Could you talk a little bit about the role of submarines in the Chinese navy and how that’s progressed over a period of time?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: China's investing heavily in developing undersea warfare capabilities. They've got a mixture of indigenous submarines, both conventionally- powered and nuclear powered, as well as the submarines that they've acquired from Russia. I think they have about 12 Kilo-class submarines, and those are advanced diesel electric.
When you look at in the broad context of anti-access and area denial, we're really talking about not a single weapon system or a single capability, but a layered set of capabilities. And if you look at it in that context, then having a submarine -- a submarine force would give you certain capabilities not only for anti-surface warfare but eventually, you know, anti-submarine warfare. It's an area where I think China feels like it's developing a niche capability and, we expect, to continue to provide these types of investments. I mean, they're working on it and that's manifest in their growing submarine force.
Q In terms of transparency, has there been less transparency –in the past few years on that particular subject?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We've seen modest improvements in transparency, but as far as I know, the Chinese haven't provided a detailed description of their undersea warfare capabilities in their defense white paper.
Q And on the naval base, is -- the new naval base. Is that -- how does that figure in that submarine force?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think, as we talk about in the report, it would appear to be set up they can actually base submarines from there and they'd be able to operate from the base at Hainan.
Q Are the Jin-class submarines -- are any of those actually operational?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't think so, because I think for it to be considered operational it'd have to be mated with its primary purpose, which is the SLBM, and that's not operational yet. So combined, you know, it's not an operational weapons system until it can perform its mission.
Q (But how many ?) do they have out at sea at the moment, even if the missiles aren't on board?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't know how many they have out at sea at the moment. I don't know.
Q Are you getting any new letters of intent from Taiwan or pricing and availability requests from Taiwan for new arms purchases that are in response to some of the modernization trends you laid out in this report?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, we continue our discussions with Taiwan on defense and security interactions -- you know, our long-standing policy is that we don't talk about a specific weapons system or a specific arms sale. We just don't do it until we -- until we make the decision and we notify Congress.
Q Quick follow-up. Last October there was the notification of $6.4 billion. Those have all been approved by Congress now and are in the works in various stages?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The ones that we notified the Congress -- have been approved.
Q –What kind of guarantees by the U.S. to Taiwan, that Taiwan will not be -- that U.S. would come to help Taiwan if Taiwan would – if an invasion was prepared of Taiwan.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, under our Taiwan Relations Act, the United States will provide defense articles and services in sufficient quantity to Taiwan to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. And that is something that we are obligated to -- that's a critical part of our policy, and that policy remains in effect.
At the same time, the Taiwan Relations Act also says that we'll maintain the capacity to resist any forms of coercion or aggression to change the status of Taiwan. And that's also our policy, and that remains in effect.
Q It's not a NATO-type agreement.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: (No ?).
Q It's not a -- it's -- or it's a Japan-American agreement -- it's not that kind of agreement.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No.
Q (Off mike) -- that strong.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, I mean, when we had to change -- when we changed diplomatic recognition, we had to terminate the mutual defense treaty that we had with Taiwan. So we do not have a defense treaty with Taiwan. But what we do have is the Taiwan Relations Act, and we have a robust set of defense and security assistance exchanges with Taiwan that's consistent with our unofficial relationship.
Q Hi. I want to try one more on cyber warfare.
I'm looking at page 52. You write, "Developing capabilities for cyber warfare is consistent with authoritative PLA military writings on the subject." So I'm wondering if you can just talk about that piece. What -- you know, what -- the writing -- what you can see coming out of the PRC government, what does it tell you? What's your analysis of what that says about how the Chinese government is organizing its cyber defense and attack resources?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We see China continuing to focus on computer network operations, both computer network defense and computer network attack. In some of the doctrinal, you know, military writings and stuff that kind of talk about information warfare -- or integrated network warfare I think is the term that they use -- talk about the role of, you know -- they of course place a stress on defending and hardening their own networks, but they also talk about the role that computer network attacks can play as part of a preliminary strike, any type of military conflict, because they see, you know, computer networks as being an essential component of modern warfare today, not only for, you know, command and control, but also intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, you know, logistics, all these types of things. And so they see -- they talk about computer network attack as being -- as being an important part of, you know, local -- wars under -- conditions and informatization.
In terms of, you know, organization, it's still a little bit, you know, nebulous, but as we've talked about in the past, we've seen some cases where they have, you know, dedicated militia units that are -- that are organized to conduct computer network operations. And that's a way where they can attract, you know, talent from the private sector, people that are working in the software or information technology community and when called upon put them into service in support of the PLA. And I think we've talked in the past, we've seen training and exercises where they've -- where they've exercised that type of stuff, including computer network operations.
Q And what level does an attack become an act of war?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I'm not an international lawyer. I can't -- I can't -- I can't answer that.
Q But is it your analysis that the Chinese government is doing computer network attack ongoing now?
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: It's my analysis, as we talk in the report, is we have a number of computer network intrusions that appear to originate in China. And some of these intrusions for the acquisition of data would involve the same types of skills, applications and capabilities that would be consistent with a computer network attack.
Any other --
Q That's it.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Is that it? Thank you.
Q Thank you very much.
SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
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