By Patrick Tyler
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Extra info for A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China
After the announcement, the White House went into denial. There was no meeting of the National Security Council. Instead, the "principals"— Lake, Perry, Shali, and Christopher—met in the Situation Room without the president. N o word came down from the Oval Office. It was as if no one imagined that the Chinese would actually begin firing die missiles. But they did, literally at the stroke of midnight on the first day they had announced for the exercises. M. eastern standard time, still March 7 in Washington (Beijing is 13 hours ahead), American intelligence satellites detected the first fiery plumes of two ballistic missiles rising from mobile launchers hidden in die valleys and mountains of southeastern China.
War planning is on the rise while avenues of diplomacy are receding or have become mired in a zone of denial that all is well. In reality, China today believes that it must gain credible military power and must show a determination to go to war if necessary in order to meet the challenge of the pro-independence politics that has flowered on Taiwan. Yet China's military forces are hopelessly outdated. At least half of its warplanes are not operational, and its navy faces "block obsolescence" as aging warships head for scrap yards.
Prologue: The Risk of War... hower administration. S. embassy in Beijing. S. embassy followed the mistaken bombing by American warplanes of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, during NATO's campaign in die Balkans. The arms race in die Taiwan Strait developed a new and ominous momentum when cargo ships and military transports arrived at Taiwan's ports and air bases to deliver American weapons sold to the island since the late 1980s: Patriot missiles to defend die capital city, Harpoon missiles to sink opposing warships, thousands of Stinger, Sparrow, and Sidewinder missiles to shoot down enemy warplanes, 450 refurbished American tanks, 150 new American warplanes, and combat computer systems to link these systems together for waging the kind of high-tech warfare that made its debut in the Persian Gulf War.