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June 17, 2021
Notes from the Pentagon

G-7 leaders back Taiwan for first time

By Bill Gertz
A statement of support by the G-7 leaders at their summit this week set off the Chinese government, which responded with stepped-up vitriol and provocative military flights in response to strong language in the group’s final communique.

“We reiterate the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is inclusive and based on the rule of law,” the summit statement said. “We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”

The communique reflected the views of the seven leading industrial nations — the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — which also called on Beijing to respect the human rights of Uyghurs and other minorities in China and for China to cooperate with the World Health Organization’s investigation into the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19.

It was the first time the Group of Seven voiced support for Taiwan, the island-state 100 miles off the southern Chinese coast that Beijing regards as a breakaway province.

A day later, at a NATO summit in Belgium, the alliance’s communique also issued a rebuke, stating China poses “systemic challenges” to international order.

“We are concerned by those coercive policies which stand in contrast to the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty,” said the NATO communique, referring to the alliance’s founding document.

“China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and a larger number of sophisticated delivery systems to establish a nuclear triad,” the communique said. “It is opaque in implementing its military modernization and its publicly declared military-civil fusion strategy.”

China‘s first response to the Taiwan language in the G-7 statement involved the largest warplane intrusion so far into Taiwan’s air defense zone on Monday. A total of 28 Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s defense zone, part of stepped-up aerial incursions in a bid to intimidate China‘s island rival.

The People’s Liberation Army in April sent 25 aircraft into Taiwan’s defense zone. The latest incursion included four H-6 bombers, 14 J-16 fighters, six J-11 fighters and two Y-8 electronic warfare and anti-submarine aircraft.

The flights were followed by unusually harsh comments by Chinese state media. Retired PLA Senior Col. Bao Ming, an unofficial military spokesman, said China should declare that it will attack the United States and Japan in any conflict over Taiwan.

“It is necessary that China make an explicit statement to the world of the consequences the U.S. and Japan will face in the event their military intervention in a Taiwan Strait conflict,” he stated.

Col. Bao said China should first target all U.S. military bases in the region, including in Japan and South Korea, with long-range weapons. Next, Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) bases used for logistics and supplies for the U.S. military would be declared formal targets “and destroyed instantly by the PLA,” he said.

Last, Japanese military forces that support U.S. military forces in the region would be attacked and “destroyed indiscriminately,” Col. Bao said.

Should Japan undertake a full intervention in a Taiwan Strait conflict, China “shall declare war on Japan,” he said, and the PLA would expand the cross-strait war to Japan’s four main islands “until the JSDF is totally wiped out.”

“That is to say, all military units and strategic targets on Japan’s main islands will be strike targets of PLA missiles,” Col. Bao said. “China will even destroy Japan’s war potential at all costs. The Japanese should understand this.”

The G-7 statement also raised concerns about Chinese efforts to control the strategic South China Sea, where some 3,200 acres of islands were built and military forces deployed since 2018. Beijing‘s pressure on Japan over control over the disputed, uninhabited Senkaku Islands also was mentioned.

“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions,” the G-7 said.

Chinese government spokesmen denounced the G-7 statement.

Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for China‘s Taiwan affairs office, blamed Taipei for heightened tension.

“We will never tolerate attempts to seek independence or wanton intervention in the Taiwan issue by foreign forces, so we need to make a strong response to these acts of collusion,” Mr. Ma said.

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing: “The content of the statement went far beyond the scope of their bilateral relations, grossly interfered in China‘s internal affairs, wantonly slandered and accused China, and created and spread disinformation.”

Recent congressional testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission provides new details about the command and control of China‘s nuclear missiles, bombers and submarines.

Phillip C. Saunders, director of the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs, stated in prepared testimony that President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission (CMC), has ultimate control over the country’s growing nuclear arsenal. Mr. Xi is president, but his ultimate authority rests with his position within the CMC.

The nuclear buildup by China is altering Beijing‘s once small and relatively unsophisticated strategic forces into “a much larger, technologically advanced and diverse nuclear triad that will provide PRC leaders with new strategic options,” Mr. Saunders stated.

Mr. Saunders said in addition to new missiles, bombers and missile submarines, the People’s Liberation Army is improving its nuclear command-and-control system, which remains largely secret. The new systems could enable a shift in China‘s no-first-use weapons policy to “a ‘launch-on-warning’ posture or a policy that envisions ‘nuclear war-fighting’ rather than just deterrence of an adversary first strike,” he said.

Orders for nuclear strikes in a war would be made by the CCP Politburo, or the Politburo Standing Committee, the seven-member collective dictatorship headed by Mr. Xi.

“The CCP’s long-standing insistence that ‘the party must control the gun’ continues, as does its emphasis on the primacy of political objectives over military objectives,” Mr. Saunders said.

Nuclear weapons orders are sent to the CMC Joint Operations Command Center, located in an underground complex called the Western Hills outside Beijing. The orders are then relayed to PLA Rocket Force headquarters and onto missile bases and launch complexes.

For China‘s ballistic missile submarine force, six Jin-class vessels, communicating launch or alert orders, are “a significant operation challenge” when the submarines are deployed in deep ocean waters.

The PLA has built a super-low-frequency transmitter to send orders to submarines and is working on a system of low frequency and satellite communications capable of reaching submarines to depths of 300 feet or more.

As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Marxist-Leninist ruling political party, a recent incident at Fudan University has revealed deep antipathy for the party in some quarters of the country.

Authorities at the university, one of China‘s most prestigious schools, earlier this month tried to organize support for the family of Wang Yongzhen, 49, a high-ranking party secretary at the university who was slain in a knife attack on June 7.

Days later, a mathematics professor at the school, Jiang Wenhua, was arrested. Reports said Mr. Jiang was a target of political punishment by Mr. Wang and confessed to the killing on the Shanghai campus.

On June 15, the Fudan University Alumni Association launched the fundraiser to support Mr. Wang’s family, and in a statement praised the party official as a hero who died in the line of duty.

Mr. Wang was a CCP commissar in charge of maintaining ideological purity at the university. He also was responsible for preventing the spread of Western ideas about human rights and free speech. His main role was suppressing any views that would promote disloyalty to the party.

Epoch Times, the newspaper that first reported on the public backlash, said Mr. Wang was unpopular and reportedly led a political campaign of suppressing student dissent. The newspaper said he forced one student to go to a mental hospital, where she reportedly committed suicide.

In an unexpected turn of events, the fundraiser generated a fierce online discussion on Chinese social media, with scores of respondents criticizing the slain party secretary and instead urging that funds be given to Mr. Jiang.

An unusual list of more than 96 comments supporting Mr. Jiang, rather than the CCP official who was killed, was published by the Epoch Times this week.

The flood of negative comments included “Fudan University, please open a donation to Teacher Jiang” and “Is there any contact information for Mathematics Teacher Jiang? I want to donate to Teacher Jiang, it is too difficult for him!” Another said: “Donate to Teacher Jiang. It is estimated that the people all over the country will be willing!”

Still another post said the university should give Mr. Wang a CCP flag because “he is not short of money, and by the way, tell me the method of Mr. Jiang’s payment.” Other comments said the party official deserved to be slain and that his killer was a hero.

China analysts said the unusual outpouring of support highlights the deep animosity in China for the CCP.

Chinese censors immediately cracked down on the negative comments and suspended the Weibo social media accounts of several of those behind the posts.

Fudan was the target of human rights demonstrators in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, last week by people opposed to a recent agreement between China and Hungary to open a branch of the Chinese university in the city. The protesters opposed the deal with Beijing‘s authoritarian leaders.

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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