TCS Daily


Stop China from Getting Olympics; Sell Taiwan Aegis Destroyer, Says Ex-U.S. Spy Chief

By James Woolsey - April 2, 2001 12:00 AM

Former CIA Director James Woolsey tells Defense Central that China must understand that strong-arm tactics "make things worse for themselves, not better."


Defense Central: What is it that the Chinese would be interested in having access to on the U.S. EP-3 in China?

Woolsey: They would probably like to know what all the sensors are on it, what bandwidth they cover, generally what their capabilities are so they can ascertain what it might be picking up.

Defense Central: How important is it that the U.S. guard its assets in this situation?

Woolsey: It is important. This kind of information can help us defend a fleet, let's say, if it should be attacked by the PRC in some Taiwan crisis. This is the sort of thing you need to know.

Any country is free to fly aircraft above international waters -- as this one was - without it being interfered with. The 12-mile limit, which is now recognized for all countries, is an area within which China would have had a right to force the aircraft down. But the aircraft, from all reports, was well outside that 12-mile limit. If it was in fact out over international waters, then the Chinese jet flying right next to it and running into it is really quite an outrage. The fact that they caused it to be forced down in the PRC does not give the Chinese the right to enter the aircraft or to do anything else.

Defense Central: Is China provoking the U.S. to test the new administration?

Woolsey: I don't know how much of it is the new administration and how much of it is internally driven either by some Chinese government policy set at the top or by some portion of the Chinese government, such as Security Services, wanting to exert their strength in order to try to intimidate the U.S., as part of some internal tugging and pulling in the Chinese system.

It's difficult to tell because this buzzing of our reconnaissance aircraft has been going on since late last year when a protest was filed. So, they began this before the new administration came into office.

It is, of course, echoed by the steps Chinese Security Services are taking to arrest Chinese Americans, including American citizens, and charging them with spying in circumstances in which it's quite clear that's not what they're doing. The most blatant case was, of course, when they arrested two Chinese Americans who had residence status in the United States. They also arrested their five-year-old son and kept him away from both the couple and the little boy's grandparents.

I find it extraordinary and outrageous that the PRC, in addition to buzzing American aircraft in international waters and arresting people who are residents in the United States on trumped-up spy charges, is also arresting American citizens, and even, in effect, five-year-old children.

Defense Central: Will relations with China be tougher or easier for President Bush than previous presidents?

Woolsey: I think relations will be easier with China if President Bush is initially quite tough with them. The two issues which I would suggest that we consider carefully are steps that go exactly against China's interests: a) the Olympics, and b) arms sales to Taiwan.

Either all or some part of the Chinese government is acting as if it believes it can intimidate the United States. I think this is precisely the time for us to go all out to stop the Chinese from getting the 2008 Olympics and to agree to sell Taiwan Aegis destroyers to help protect Taiwan from Chinese ballistic missiles. I believe that China needs to understand that when they pull this sort of strong-arm tactics with the United States, they make things worse for themselves, not better.

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