Russia sends cruise missiles to China for new warships

ÁÎ×Ó¹â Henry C.K.Liu ¹ù¤l¥ú hliu at
Fri May 19 21:34:43 MDT 2000

  May 19, 2000

 Russia sends cruise missiles to China for new warships

                    By Bill Gertz
                    THE WASHINGTON TIMES

                         Russia recently delivered the first
                    shipment of supersonic cruise missiles to
                    China for a new missile destroyer and more
                    of the weapons will be sent later this year,
                    Pentagon officials said Thursday.
                         The deployment of the 24 SSN-22
                    anti-ship cruise missiles on a Chinese
                    Sovremenny-class destroyer is the most
                    significant recent weapons development by
                    the People's Liberation Army (PLA) naval
                    forces, according to Navy officials.
                         The missile shipment was sent by a
                    manufacturer from the Pacific port of
                    Vladivostok to China within the past several
                    weeks, said officials who spoke on the
                    condition of anonymity.
                         The missiles will be deployed on China's
                    new Sovremenny-class guided-missile
                    destroyer, the first of two advanced
                    warships bought by the PLA navy. The first
                    guided-missile destroyer sailed to China
                    earlier this year without the sea-skimming
                    anti-ship missiles.
                         A second delivery of the high-speed
                    missiles is expected in the next several
                    months, the officials said.
                         Naval officials told The Washington
                    Times the cruise-missile destroyer
                    represents a major boost in Chinese surface
                    warship firepower.
                         "The Sovremenny arrival is obviously
                    the big issue that really did change the
                    capability of the surface force," one official
                         The arrival of the first missiles, known
                    as Sunburns, was reported to senior officials
                    in intelligence reports Thursday. Details
                    were disclosed by two Russian news
                    agencies on Monday and Tuesday.
                         The missile delivery comes at an
                    awkward time for the Clinton administration
                    as it seeks to lobby Congress for passage of
                    a trade bill to help China. The president has
                    said improving trade relations with China
                    will boost U.S. national security.
                         The administration last month also
                    refused to authorize the sale to Taiwan of
                    four Aegis radar-equipped missile destroyers
                    and high-speed anti-radiation missiles that
                    could be used by Taiwan's forces to counter
                    the new warships.
                         Taiwan arms sales have been blocked by
                    pro-China officials at the White House and
                    State Department who fear U.S. transfers
                    will upset Beijing.
                         Russian weapons designers originally
                    built the SSN-22 for the Soviet Navy to use
                    against U.S. warships during the Cold War.
                    The missile has a range of between 80 and
                    85 miles. Its supersonic speed is what
                    makes the missile a major threat.
                         Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California
                    Republican and sponsor of a bill to punish
                    Russia for the missile transfers, said the
                    anti-ship missiles could be used against
                    Americans in the future.
                         "The Chinese communists now have the
                    ability to sink American aircraft carriers and
                    kill thousands of Americans," Mr.
                    Rohrabacher said in an interview. "If they
                    ever decide to use these weapons, the
                    American people have a right to ask who's
                    to blame. But maybe we should ask that
                    question before Americans start dying."
                         A bill sponsored by Mr. Rohrabacher
                    passed the House International Relations
                    Committee two weeks ago that would block
                    any U.S. debt relief for the Russian
                    government if future Sunburn missile sales
                    are not stopped. The full House could vote
                    on the measure in the next several weeks.
                         Richard Fisher, a specialist on the
                    Chinese military with the Jamestown
                    Foundation, said Russia's delivery of the
                    missile weeks after the Clinton
                    administration's rejection of guided missile
                    ships to Taiwan is "a humiliation on top of a
                         "From Eisenhower to Bush, the
                    operative American policy was to promote
                    deterrence on the Taiwan Strait by selling
                    Taiwan's military a technical edge over the
                    PRC," Mr. Fisher said. "In the year 2000,
                    the Clinton administration has abandoned
                    this long-standing U.S. policy and has
                    decreased deterrence for the foreseeable
                         Mr. Fisher said Taiwan's navy currently
                    is defenseless against the supersonic cruise
                    missile deployed on the new Chinese
                    warship. "It has no defensive system that
                    can take out this missile besides a
                    pre-emptive attack on the destroyer itself,
                    which increases instability on the Taiwan
                    Strait," he said.
                         As for U.S. ships, any Navy ships
                    operating outside the protection of aircraft
                    carrier battle groups or Aegis ships "are
                    dead meat for the Sunburn."
                         The Navy officials said the purchase of
                    Russian warships and advanced missiles is
                    part of a buildup of naval forces by Beijing
                    in case it decides to use force against
                    Taiwan, which the communist government
                    views as a Chinese province.
                         "I don't think the Chinese military is in a
                    big hurry to deal with Taiwan militarily,"
                    one official said.
                         However, if a conflict erupts, China's
                    military leaders "recognize that if called on,
                    they will go, they have to go, and the
                    systems they are getting will have some
                    capability to do that," the official said.
                         China also has four advanced Kilo
                    submarines and has purchased Su-27
                    fighter-bombers from Moscow.
                         The weapons purchases are part of a
                    growing strategic partnership between
                    Moscow and Beijing, an alliance based in
                    part on opposition to the United States.
                         Russian President Vladimir Putin is
                    expected to visit Beijing in July as a sign of
                    the developing alliance.
                         According to the Navy officials, China's
                    short-term military goal is to develop or buy
                    the forces needed for fighting Taiwan. The
                    longer-term objective is to build better
                    command, control and communications
                    systems that will assist their war-fighting
                    capabilities, they said.
                         "They are focused on the Taiwan
                    scenario, and all their efforts have been
                    recently on systems that are important for
                    Taiwan," the official said.
                         Capt. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon
                    spokesman, recently sought to play down
                    the Russian warship sale as not a new

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