by Bill Gertz
February 2, 2015
are pictured at the
Aviation Open Day,
Jilin province, 1 September 2011
China launched a secret 100-year modernization program that deceived
successive U.S. administrations into unknowingly promoting Beijing's
strategy of replacing the U.S.-led world order with a Chinese
communist-dominated economic and political system, according to a
new book by a longtime Pentagon China specialist.
For more than four decades, Chinese leaders lulled presidents,
cabinet secretaries, and other government analysts and policymakers
into falsely assessing China as a benign power deserving of U.S.
support, says Michael Pillsbury, the Mandarin-speaking
analyst who has worked on China policy and intelligence issues for
every U.S. administration since Richard Nixon.
The secret strategy, based on ancient Chinese statecraft, produced a
large-scale transfer of cash, technology, and expertise that
bolstered military and Communist Party "superhawks" in China who are
now taking steps to catch up to and ultimately surpass the United
States, Pillsbury concludes in a book published this week.
The Chinese strategic deception program was launched by Mao
Zedong in 1955 and put forth the widespread misbelieve that
China is a poor, backward, inward-looking country.
"And therefore the United States has
to help them, and give away things to them, to make sure they
stay friendly," Pillsbury said in an interview.
"This is totally wrong."
The Chinese strategy also is aimed at
gaining global economic dominance, he says, noting that China's
military buildup is but one part.
The combined economic, political, and
military power is seeking to produce China as a new global "hegemon"
that will export its anti-democratic political system and predatory
economic practices around the world.
In the interview, Pillsbury, currently director of the Hudson
Institute's Center for Chinese Strategy, said new details contained
in the book were cleared for publication by the FBI, CIA, and
Defense Department, including details of formerly classified
presidential directives, testimony from previously unknown Chinese
defectors, and alarming details of writings from powerful Chinese
military and political hawks.
The book also discloses for the first time that the opening to
China in 1969 and 1970, considered one of the United States'
most significant strategic gambits, was not initiated by
then-President Nixon's top national security aide
Instead, Pillsbury shows that it was
Chinese generals who played the United States card against the
Soviet Union, amid fears of a takeover of the country by Moscow.
Some sensitive details were removed from the manuscript by the
However, the totality of the book
represents an authorized disclosure of China's secret strategy that
is among the most significant releases of internal U.S. government
information in over a decade, Pillsbury said.
"That highlights the importance of
the book," Pillsbury said in an interview. "And it sends a
message to China: We're not as clueless as you think."
Pillsbury also reveals how a Chinese
government defector exposed Beijing's effective lobbying campaign
from 1995 to 2000 that led Congress to approve Most-Favored
National trade status for China - several years after China was
sanctioned for the bloody massacre by the military of
unarmed protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen
The covert influence operation was carried out at a time when
American concerns about Chinese human rights violations were high.
Yet China was able to successfully induce U.S. leaders into making
key strategic trade concessions.
That covert influence program was revealed by one of the six Chinese
defectors Pillsbury questioned over the years, including one who
turned out to be a false defector - FBI informant Katrina Leung,
who was arrested in 2003.
"I tried to put a defector interview
into the opening of each chapter," Pillsbury said, noting that
the defectors remain in witness protection programs and "fear
for their lives" due to the possibility of Chinese retaliation.
The defectors disclosed details of,
"what China is trying to do to
America in what they call the 100-year marathon," he said.
On the Chinese hawks, Pillsbury said
internal writings of these powerful political and military leaders
"how they draw lessons from China's
ancient past… and how can they surpass America without the
Pillsbury, whose most senior government
post was assistant undersecretary of defense for policy planning in
the administration of President Ronald Reagan, also worked
for several senators and has been a consultant on China policy for
In the book, Pillsbury acknowledged that initially he was among the
staunchest advocates of the U.S. policy of "constructive engagement"
toward China launched initially in 1969 as a way to prevent a Soviet
takeover in Beijing.
Asked when he abandoned his pro-China, "panda hugger" views, he
"Over time… mainly after Tiananmen"
- a reference to the brutal 1989 military crackdown on
pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's main square.
"We believed that American aid to a
fragile China whose leaders thought like us would help China
become a democratic and peaceful power without ambitions of
regional or even global dominance," Pillsbury wrote.
"Every one of the assumptions behind that belief was wrong -
dangerously so," he stated, noting that the power of China's now
dominant faction of anti-American ultranationalists was
The Hundred Year Marathon, reveals
new details of secret CIA cooperation with China in covert action
programs in Afghanistan and Angola, as well as nearly $1 billion
worth of weapons transfers during the 1980s.
The covert support for China, along with a continuing flow of U.S.
technology and intelligence for the past 45 years, were once among
the U.S. government's most closely guarded secrets.
The book also declassifies details of several presidential memoranda
behind the covert U.S. policy of supporting China that Pillsbury
states produced one of the United States' most significant strategic
Documents and intelligence reports smuggled out of China after the
bloody Tiananmen massacre, when tanks were called in to disperse
tens of thousands of unarmed pro-democracy protesters, revealed that
senior Chinese leaders were sharply divided over supporting the
students' calls for democratic political reform, according to the
Communist super hawks in the military and senior Party leadership
managed to defeat and ultimately arrest senior Party officials who
supported the pro-democracy reform.
The book also provides the following new disclosures on China's
strategy toward the United States:
Chinese hardliners promoted the
book of Col. Liu Mingfu, "The China Dream" that is the
inspiration behind current Chinese leader Xi Jinping's
increasingly Maoist policies. Other writings by hawks reveal
a future China-dominated world will that values "order over
freedom, ethics over law and elite governance over democracy
and human rights."
U.S. intelligence agencies for
decades underestimated the influence of Chinese hawks and
continue to dismiss their power and influence as "fringe"
Intelligence assessments in the
late 1980s failed to recognize the pro-democracy sentiment
inside the ruling Politburo was strong until it was crushed
after the 1989 crackdown on dissent.
After Tiananmen, China's
government created a false history to hide its past covert
cooperation with the United States.
China's "assassin's mace"
weapons - missiles and other exotic arms - are being built
to defeat satellites and knock out aircraft carriers, using
high-tech arms, including electromagnetic pulse weapons.
As part of covert U.S. offers of
assistance to China in the 1970s, the CIA cut off aid to the
exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and canceled U.S. Navy
patrols through the Taiwan Strait. Instead, the CIA began
providing intelligence on the Soviet Union to China.
Reagan agreed to sell six major
weapons systems to China but required that continued aid be
conditioned on China remaining unaligned with Moscow and
liberalizing its communist system. The arms transfers were
halted after Tiananmen.
World Bank assistance to China
imposed no conditions on China moving toward free market
reforms. As a result, China's government today continues to
control most industries.
China will undermine the United
Nations and World Trade Organization to "delegitimize" the
U.S.-led world order in order to promote its global system.
An internal secret briefing for
Chinese officials discussed China's most important foreign
policy priority as "how to manage the decline of the United
States," revealing that China is working against U.S.
interests in supporting rogue states and selling arms to
To counter what Pillsbury describes as
China's "warring states era" strategy for world dominance, an
approach that outlines how a lesser power can defeat a stronger foe,
the United States needs to recognize the threat and take urgent
steps to prevent China from dominating the world.
Pillsbury said that as part of efforts to counter the Chinese
military buildup, the Pentagon's next budget will include,
funding for up to 100 new
funds for hardening U.S.
satellites against Chinese attacks
money for a Navy program to
protect U.S. aircraft carriers from China's carrier-killing
DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile