PRC Acquisition of U.S. Technology
Development of the CCPs Technology Policies
The CCP Politburo addresses broad technology matters through the Science and Technology Leading Group.7 This Communist Party group is headed by the Premier and includes the Chairman of the State Science and Technology Commission8 and the Minister of COSTIND.
Broad technology policy directives originate in the upper levels of the Communist Party hierarchy. It is up to the State Council and its organs to fine-tune and implement those policies. In addition, the State government, like the CCP itself, has a number of Leading Groups, including a Science and Technology Leading Group, that provide expertise and recommendations to the State Council and its organs. A committee of approximately 50 R&D experts meets annually and provides policy planning and technical advice to the Minister of COSTIND. COSTIND can also call upon the many academies and institutes under its direction.
The State Council and its sub-units are also consumers of military research conducted by the PRCs military research bureaucracy, composed of numerous think-tanks that provide analysis on a wide range of matters. This military research is channeled through a State Council unit known as the International Studies Research Center.
The Center acts as a conduit and central transmission point to channel intelligence, research reports, and policy documents to the top Communist Party leadership.9
The 863 and Super-863 Programs: Importing Technologies for Military Use
In 1986, "Paramount Leader" Deng Xiaoping adopted a major initiative, the so-called 863 Program, to accelerate the acquisition and development of science and technology in the PRC.10 Deng directed 200 scientists to develop science and technology goals. The PRC claims that the 863 Program produced nearly 1,500 research achievements by 1996 and was supported by nearly 30,000 scientific and technical personnel who worked to advance the PRCs "economy and . . . national defense construction." 11
The most senior engineers behind the 863 Program were involved in strategic military programs such as space tracking, nuclear energy, and satellites.12 Placed under COSTINDs management, the 863 Program aimed to narrow the gap between the PRC and the West by the year 2000 in key science and technology sectors, including the military technology areas of:
- Information technology
- Laser technology
- Automation technology
- Energy technology
- New materials
The 863 Program was given a budget split between military and civilian projects, and focuses on both military and civilian science and technology. The following are key areas of military concern:
The 863 Program includes a recently unveiled plan for gene research that could have biological warfare applications.
Recent PRC planning has focused on the development of satellites with remote sensing capabilities, which could be used for military reconnaissance, as well as space launch vehicles.
Military Information Technology
The 863 Program includes the development of intelligent computers, optoelectronics, and image processing for weather forecasting; and the production of submicron integrated circuits on 8-inch silicon wafers. These programs could lead to the development of military communications systems; command, control, communications, and intelligence systems; and advances in military software development.
The 863 Program includes the development of pulse-power techniques, plasma technology, and laser spectroscopy, all of which are useful in the development of laser weapons.
This area of the 863 Program, which includes the development of computer-integrated manufacturing systems and robotics for increased production capability, is focused in the areas of electronics, machinery, space, chemistry, and telecommunications, and could standardize and improve the PRCs military production.
Qinghua University Nuclear Research Institute has claimed success in the development of high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors, projects that could aid in the development of nuclear weapons.
The 863 Program areas include optoelectronic information materials, structural materials, special function materials, composites, rare-earth metals, new energy compound materials, and high-capacity engineering plastics. These projects could advance the PRCs development of materials, such as composites, for military aircraft and other weapons.
In 1996, the PRC announced the "Super 863 Program" as a follow-on to the 863 Program, planning technology development through 2010. The "Super 863 Program" continues the research agenda of the 863 Program, which apparently failed to meet the CCPs expectations.
The Super 863 Program calls for continued acquisition and development of technology in a number of areas of military concern, including machine tools, electronics, petrochemicals, electronic information, bioengineering, exotic materials, nuclear research, aviation, space, and marine technology.
COSTIND and the Ministry of Science and Technology jointly manage the Super 863 Program. The Ministry of Science and Technology focuses on biotechnology, information technology, automation, nuclear research, and exotic materials, while COSTIND oversees the laser and space technology fields.13
COSTIND is attempting to monitor foreign technologies, including all those imported to the PRC through joint ventures with the United States and other Western countries. These efforts are evidence that the PRC engages in extensive oversight of imported dual-use technology. The PRC is also working to translate foreign technical data, analyze it, and assimilate it for PLA military programs. The Select Committee has concluded that these efforts have targeted the U.S. Government and other entities.
If successful, the 863 Programs will increase the PRCs ability to understand, assimilate, and transfer imported civil technologies to military programs. Moreover, Super 863 Program initiatives increasingly focus on the development of technologies for military applications. PRC program managers are now emphasizing projects that will attract U.S. researchers.
Since the early 1990s, the PRC has been increasingly focused on acquiring U.S. and foreign technology and equipment, including particularly dual-use technologies that can be integrated into the PRCs military and industrial bases.
The 16-Character Policy: 'Give Priority to Military Products
In 1997, the CCP formally codified the 16-Character Policy. The "16-Character Policy" is the CCPs overall direction that underlies the blurring of the lines between State and commercial entities, and military and commercial interests. The sixteen characters literally mean:
- Jun-min jiehe (Combine the military and civil)
- Ping-zhan jiehe (Combine peace and war)
- Jun-pin youxian (Give priority to military products)
- Yi min yan jun (Let the civil support the military)14
This policy, a reaffirmation and codification of Deng Xiaopings 1978 pronouncement, holds that military development is the object of general economic modernization, and that the CCPs main aim for the civilian economy is to support the building of modern military weapons and to support the aims of the PLA. The 16-Character Policy could be interpreted, in light of other policy pronouncements that subordinate military modernization to general economic modernization, to mean a short-term strategy to use defense conversion proceeds for immediate military modernization. Or it could mean a long-term strategy to build a civilian economy that will, in the future, support the building of modern military goods. In practice, however, the policy appears to have meant a little of both approaches.15
The CCPs official policy on military modernization, as publicly announced since the late 1970s by then-"Paramount Leader" Deng Xiaoping, states that the PRC is devoting its resources to economic development, and that military development is subordinate to and serves that goal.16 But as Dr. Michael Pillsbury of the National Defense University has testified publicly, the doctrinal and strategic writings of many PLA leaders and scholars are inconsistent with a subordination of military modernization efforts. In fact, according to Pillsbury, these views are "surprising, and perhaps even alarming." 17
General Liu Huaqing, former Vice-Chairman of the CCPs Central Military Commission and a member of both the Politburo and the Standing Committee, stated in 1992 that economic modernization was dependent not only on "advanced science and technology," but also "people armed with it." Anything else was "empty talk." 18
The PRC has indeed used the profits from its burgeoning commercial economy to purchase a number of advanced weapons systems. The most notable of these include the purchase from Russia of 50 Sukhoi Su-27 jet fighters and the production rights for 200 more, two Kilo attack submarines, and two Sovremenniy missile destroyers.19
The PRC has also purchased weapons systems or their components from Israel, France, Britain, and the United States, including air-to-air missiles, air-refueling technology, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, helicopter parts, and assorted avionics.20
In addition to providing funds for the purchase of U.S. and foreign weapons systems, implementation of the 16-Character Policy serves the PLA in other ways. Among these are:
- Funding military R&D efforts
- Providing civilian cover for military industrial companies to acquire dual-use technology through purchase or joint-venture business dealings
- Modernizing an industrial base that can, in time of hostility, be turned towards military production
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