People's Liberation Army's 'Leap Forward'; China Boosts Techno-Spy Base In Cuba

By American Foreign Policy Counci... | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

July 26: The Chinese military has achieved a qualitative "leap forward" with emphasis on "effectiveness and technology," reports the People's Liberation Army publication Outlook. The PLA has also prepared for high-technology warfare and rapid deployment of its force. According to the magazine, the army, air force and navy have developed "comprehensive equipment systems" to fight in all types of warfare. In addition, the PLA has developed a comprehensive system of long, medium and short range missiles, and is capable of launching nuclear missiles from submarines, from ships, or from land-based mobile missiles.

The PLA's submarines are capable of high-speed cruising, Outlook continues, and are capable of launching nuclear missiles in "very deep" water. In addition, dozens of models of tactical missiles have reached "internationally advanced levels." The PLA has developed the Galaxy military computer, capable of 10 billion calculations per second, making China one of the few countries capable of independently designing and constructing high speed computers.

The South China Morning Post reports that in Guangzhou province, facing Taiwan, the PLA has deployed China's first comprehensive automatic war zone command system. The system combines the functions of command, control, surveillance, communications and electronic warfare, as well as tightened liaison among regional forces. The PLA can now prepare a battle or logistical plan in a few minutes, instead of hours, as it took in the past.

July 28: The PLA air force has performed a record amount of flight training time, the China Evening News reports, and recently tested a surface-to-air missile [SAM] with 100 percent accuracy. The flight record was set during the first half of this year, including difficult drills at night, at low altitude and in heavy weather. The PLA also tested a new SAM under near-battlefield condition, hitting its target every time.

July 30: China has begun filling the gap in Cuba -- economically, politically and militarily -- that was created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, writes James Suchlicki in the Wall Street Journal.

"Evidence is mounting that China's main interest in Cuba is not dissimilar to a use that attracted the Soviets . . . It is an ideal spot for electronic eavesdropping on communications on the American mainland. In other words -- it is a good base for spying. It is also a useful relay point for routing intelligence back home," observes Suchlicki, director of the Institute of Cuba and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.

During the past two years, he continues, Cuba and China have exchanged high level military delegations, including visits by Defense Minister Raul Castro and Cuba's top generals to China, and a trip to Cuba by General Dong Liang Su, head of the Chinese Military Commission. In February, a top-level Chinese military delegation, led by Defense Minister Chi Haotian, visited Cuba. It was the first time a Chinese Defense Minister had visited Cuba. "It should be no surprise," adds Suchlicki, that China would want "an electronic espionage base close to
American shores."

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