Ultimate domination
Geoff Metcalf explores China's long-term strategy with Bill Gertz

By Geoff Metcalf
Bill Gertz is a national security reporter for the Washington Times and a WorldNetDaily commentator. In his book "Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security," Gertz tells the alarming story of how the Clinton administration systematically weakened our military. WorldNetDaily reporter Geoff Metcalf recently interviewed Gertz about his assessment of current developments in China and the military threat it poses.

Question: So what is the latest with Communist Red China?

Answer: Well I just returned from China, Beijing and Shanghai, with the Secretary of Defense. I was only there about a week, but I got to meet some of the People's Liberation Army's military officers -- a couple of generals and the Defense Minister -- and I was struck by how little we know and understand about what is going on in the Chinese military. They are very secretive; we don't have a clear understanding of their strategy.

Q: Their strategy is long term and it means ultimate domination. That's their strategy.

A: Well, yeah, that's understood. But exactly how they want to defeat the United States needs to be understood better.

Q: What about this recent Putin announcement in Russia about a new "strategic partnership" in Asia?

A: To me that is the most damaging fallout from the Clinton administration. They succeeded in bringing together two longtime foes, in an alliance that is directed in one place, which is against the United States.

Q: I have even heard some folks suggesting that the alleged schism between the Communist Red Chinese and Russia wasn't real. It was all part of a long-term strategic finesse designed to lull us into a false sense of confidence.

A: Yeah, that was the Jim Angleton theory based on Anatoly Golidson. He was a KGB defector a long time ago. I was never a subscriber to that theory, although I think there were some elements of soviet and Chinese cooperation. But unless we get access to the archives in both countries (which is unlikely), we will never be able to fully explain that.

Q: I've got to ask you, again, the same question I always ask whenever we speak: What and when with Taiwan?

A: This is the real danger. To me it could happen anytime the Chinese feel they have to express their nationalism in some outward direction.

Q: Do you have any evidence to suggest they might time something either before or after our national elections to have an impact on our political arena?

A: I don't. I don't have any real sense of when they will actually try to do something militarily. You've got to be wary because the big danger is miscalculation. The Chinese have shown a tremendous effort at miscalculation -- I mean within their country. The death toll from the Communist regime there is anywhere from thirty to sixty million people who died under that regime as a result of their policies. So miscalculation is a fundamental characteristic. I spoke with some of the U.S. military officials when I was over there and they said one of the things that worries them about the Chinese is what seems to be an emerging tactic described as "Advance and reassure." An example would be building facilities on the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea, which are disputed islands. What they do and have done is set up emplacements there and then falsely assure the world that they don't have any expansionist aims. This is a theme that is constantly echoed by many of the so-called U.S.-China experts: China has no expansionist aims and that China is basically a benign power.

Q: So what are they doing in Africa and Cuba? And what of the build up in Panama?

A: That's just it. It really is this strategy of trying to pretend they don't present a threat. In doing some research for my forthcoming book on China, I came across the declassified conversations between Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Cho En Lai. One of the things Cho En Lai said to Nixon, which has been a recurring theme in Chinese strategic writings and statements was, "Now you can see we don't pose a threat." And I keep hearing this theme over and over again and it is a theme that has clearly been manufactured within the communist party circles.

Q: A gentle hand on the shoulder while they are using the other hand to plunge a knife into your back.

A: Yeah.

Q: What troubles me more than anything else from a strategic standpoint is that at the very same time the U.S. military is going through this humongous attrition, the communist Red Chinese are going through this humongous build up. The Pentagon isn't stupid. I've talked to guys in the War Colleges and they tell me by 2007 to 2014 communist Red china is going to have military superiority. And when they get it, arguably, they are going to use it.

A: The problem here is if you were to take all the experts in the United States that are experts on the specific area of the Chinese military and security issues you could probably put them all in a fairly large conference room. Whereas in the days back when they were analyzing the Soviet Union, there were thousands and thousands of people that focused on that. And there are serious divisions within the community of China experts today. The predominant view that is put forth by most of the so-called establishment China hands is that China is not a threat. Everything they do is minimized and they try to downplay all these strategic weapons developments and you have to wonder what's really going on here?

Q: What bugs me about the Pentagon is that they have some real smart people there and they know that China, unlike the United States where we tend to think "tomorrow, next week, maybe next quarter," it is a rare thing to find a company that even has a one or five-year plan and actually works the plan. The Asians are different! This isn't to denigrate them in any way. Rather, it's a reality check. They plan decades in advance and they work the plan.

A: Yeah and they work it in every direction you can imagine. Whether it's stealing technology through espionage, or buying it through front companies in various countries -- whether Hong Kong or Europe -- it is a fairly substantial buildup and, again, the problem is the people haven't been given the right information.

Q: I agree, but give me an example.

A: The problem with the Pentagon these days is that they are getting bad information.

Q: Are you saying like with computers, "Garbage in ... garbage out?"

A: Well, yeah. There are a few people who recognize what you have described, that this is a serious effort targeted at the United States. Yet they are getting the information that China doesn't spend a lot on defense, that its weapons are no good and that its training is no good. But inside the government there are clear signs that they are making a very aggressive effort to build up their forces for a future confrontation with the United States.

Q: Last time we were together at the New Media Conference in Los Angeles, you outlined the potential threats from the Communist Red Chinese. How have things changed since that speech last year?

A: I think that the Chinese have continued to build up their nuclear forces and that is the real problem.

Q: Largely with our help.

A: Yeah, of course, including space technology that is going into their missiles and nuclear secrets that are going into their warheads. The Chinese are getting ready to test-fire another long-range missile, the DF-31. There were intelligence reports recently that they were preparing for this test. I was waiting to see if the Chinese were so brazen as to conduct the test while the Secretary of Defense was in town. They have shown that kind of "signal sending" in the past. I know they did some missile testing when Madeline Albright was in China. As far as I know they haven't actually tested it yet. But from the reports I've been told about they are going to test another ICBM real soon.

Q: You were with Bill Cohen on this trip. Did you get any kind of candor from him at all or did he stick pretty much to the party-line talking points?

A: He pretty much stuck by the party line. He had two, kind of Commissar-type figures along with him, Kenneth Liberthal and Stanley Roth. Ken Liberthal is the White House National Security Council China expert and is a noted "Panda hugger," as the critics like to call them. Stanley Roth is in the same category. I wasn't in on the internal speech- making and press briefings and the like, but it was pretty obvious to me that they were making sure that the defense secretary did not stray from their particular party line on China.

Q: So the Secretary had a handful of talking points and that's pretty much what he stuck to?

A: Pretty much. However, I would note that in Shanghai he gave a speech on the floor of the Shanghai stock exchange that was fairly impressive from a technological standpoint. There were huge computer screens with trading figures and Chinese characters. And it was during that speech that the Defense Secretary basically called for democracy in China. I spoke to him afterwards and I told him that this was the first time in my memory that anyone in the Clinton administration had used the "D" word. You know the administration is all for enlarging democracy in all countries of the world except China.

Q: Rules are different there.

A: Yeah, they don't want to seem to put any pressure on the Chinese to democratize. So it was refreshing to hear the Defense Secretary take this track even though it was a little unrealistic. His argument was that with this prosperity -- and there is growing economic prosperity in parts of China along the coast -- they were going to develop a middle class. And this middle class was going to produce pressure for democratic reform. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened and the trends seem to be going the other way.

Q: That was the line they fed us here: This humongous market was going to be able to buy our computers and buy our cars and buy our products. But it is a crock.

A: Yeah. I was able to talk to some regular Chinese and some Chinese officials and learned they want democracy. They don't want to be living under these communist emperors, which is what they have today. They want to be able to have some political freedom to go with the economic reforms that have given them a little bit better prosperity. But I would temper that by saying we don't have a real good picture of what's going on in China because all of the prosperity is limited to a few cities on the coast. The rest of the country out in the hinterlands is really struggling.

Q: I saw one of the most chilling things recently -- and I was shocked to see it in the South China Morning Post. The paper had a story that the Communist Red Chinese were creating a new branch of the service that would specifically focus on cyber-warfare.

A: Yeah, I reported on that some months ago. This was a pretty significant report because it wasn't just in any paper. It was in the Liberation Army Daily, which is the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army. And it said they are making great strides toward developing a separate service that will engage in information warfare. That is using computer systems to attack other computer systems primarily against their main enemy. That is us.

Q: I thought that was huge.

A: Yeah, it was. They seem to be moving in that direction. I know the Pentagon is looking at that too. I asked the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency about that earlier this year and he said, "Anytime you have the official Army newspaper talking about something we are very concerned about it and are watching very closely."

Q: Another significant question is whether the Chinese have an operational neutron bomb?

A: Yes they do. This was one of the findings that came out of the Cox Commission. They managed to steal the technology through espionage. This was the case of Peter Lee, a Lawrence Livermore scientist.

Q: And, by the way, although we invented it we don't have one.

A: That's right. We abandoned it during the 1970s because it was considered an inhumane nuclear weapon -- if there could be such a thing.

Q: Too efficient.

A: Yeah. It was formerly called an "enhanced radiation weapon" because it kills the people and leaves the buildings intact.

Q: Yeah, it leaves the buildings a little hot but still standing. So they do have one. What is the potential of them actually using it? One of the scenarios we were recently discussing is there might be a limited, nuclear attack on Taiwan. I can't see that happening. If we were to get dragged into the defense of Taiwan, which is still questionable, I know for a fact that militarily we would have to employ tactical nuclear weapons and that opens a real nasty Pandora's box.

A: Well it would certainly be very difficult to do because they have removed all the tactical nuclear weapons from the U.S. Navy. They are not deployed on ships anymore. I go into that scenario in some detail in my forthcoming book. The China expert community has tried to pooh-pooh the idea and that has filtered into the official military version. Admiral Dennis Blair came out a few months ago and said that China doesn't have the amphibious forces to launch an invasion of Taiwan.

Q: Yeah, but that's not what they want to do.

A: Right, that's not their strategy. They are building missiles opposite Taiwan at a rather rapid pace -- basically at about one a week on average. And what their scenario would be -- and this has been played out in some of the internal Pentagon writings. ...

Q: Is to bomb the snot out of them.

A: Right. They launch a massive missile attack, knock out most of the infrastructure and all of the military bases, try to do some kind of blockade and then say, "Surrender or we start sending more." So the idea that they can't invade is kind of a strawman setup by the military to try to downplay the China threat.

Q: When is the new book coming out.

A: It's coming out in November and I'm really excited about it.