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The Washington Times
January 2, 2001

The new cold war

By Steven W. Mosher

The very name of Bill Gertz's new book is an affront to the panda-huggers in our nation's capital. They deny the existence of a threat from China, suggesting that this view is a mindless holdover from the reflexive paranoia of the Cold War. They are irritated when someone raises the possibility that China does not wish us well. China will only pose a danger to us, they whisper, if we treat it as dangerous.

This is certainly the view of the panda-hugger-in-chief, President Clinton, who recently criticized the U.S. Congress for mandating annual reports on China's military buildup because this assumes "an outcome that is far from foreordained - that China is bent on becoming a military threat to the United States. . . . I believe we should not make it more likely that China will choose this path by acting as if the decision has already been made."

Thus is careful and prudent monitoring of China's capabilities and intentions proscribed as dangerously provocative. We are not allowed even to think about China as a potential adversary.

But China is not a threat because Mr. Gertz , the respected national security correspondent for this newspaper, says it is in the title of his new book. It is a threat because Chinese leaders continue to utter warlike words, and to acquire the military means to make good on their threats.

After all, it was Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping who in September 1991 first characterized the conflict between the United States and China as "a new cold war." It was the current president, Jiang Zemin, who in August 1995 asserted that "Western hostile forces [a k a the United States] have not for a moment abandoned their plot to Westernize and `divide' our country." And it was Gen. Chi Haotian, vice chairman of the Communist Party's Central Military Commission, who said in December 1999, "Viewed from the changes in the world situation and the hegemonic strategy of the United States to create monopolarity . . . war [between China and the U.S.A.] is inevitable."

"China's military buildup is directly aimed at fighting a future war with the United States," Mr. Gertz asserted last year in his best selling "Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security." His new book, containing more than 50 pages of secret intelligence reports, offers shocking confirmation of China's growing ability to do just that. Some of Mr. Gertz's revelations include:

The full story of how China walked away with America's most valuable nuclear secrets, and key details about the identities of its major spies. Evidence, based on top secret National Security Agency reports, that China was using U.S. supercomputers - and presumably U.S. nuclear information - to conduct simulated nuclear detonations. How a Hong Kong company linked to the Communist Chinese government gained control of the Panama Canal and the threat China poses to other maritime choke points. Classified intelligence reports showing that China continues to sell nuclear weapons technology and long-range missiles to rogue states. The existence of an internal Chinese military document exposing Beijing plans to launch a nuclear war on the United States if American forces defend Taiwan.

The book is worth reading for these cautionary tales alone. But its most important contribution lies elsewhere. For China's principally dangerous offensive against the United States does not involve espionage or weapons systems, but propaganda and perception management. "The mind of the enemy and the will of his leaders," Mao once remarked, "is a target of far more importance than the bodies of his troops."

Mr. Gertz details how the relatively small China-watching community in the United States has been monitored and massaged to ensure that flattering views of China come to predominate. The key is access. Those China-watchers who cooperate have no trouble getting visas to China, or meetings with high-level officials when there. When I invited one well-known Washington China hand to attend a conference on human rights in China that I was organizing, he declined. "I avoid such meetings," he said bluntly. "I prefer to keep my channels open to Beijing."

Those who criticize the Beijing regime are denied access to China. Their views are attacked by the panda-huggers as being out of the mainstream. They themselves are dismissed as right-wing zealots, conspiracy theorists, or worse. Don't say China is a threat, they are warned, lest it become one.

Thus is open debate foreclosed. The result, as William Triplett, former counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says, is the undermining of "the consensus-making that is so critical in a democratic society faced with a nondemocratic military threat."

Read "The China Threat." It is real.

Steven Mosher is the author of "Hegemon: China's Plan to Dominate Asia and the World" (Encounter Books, 2000).

By Bill Gertz
Regnery, $27.95, 280 pages, illus.