US Unprepared for Potential Space Conflict With China, Says Bill Gertz

October 3, 2019 Updated: October 8, 2019

“The Chinese could cripple the United States—not just the military, but the entire U.S. society” with a surprise attack on America’s satellites, according to Bill Gertz, a national security columnist for the Washington Times and Senior Editor of the Washington Free Beacon.

China has built anti-satellite missiles and other weapons that make it capable of “severely disrupting or destroying” U.S. satellites in low earth orbit by 2020, according to the Pentagon’s Joint Staff intelligence directorate. America heavily relies on satellites for communications, transportation, finance, and military data collection.

Space weaponry is just one aspect of the Chinese communist regime’s multifaceted doctrine of unrestricted warfare—using a series of unconventional tactics to defeat a more powerful foe, the United States, without engaging in troop-on-troop combat.

Gertz details these diverse strategies and tactics in his new book “Deceiving the Sky: Inside Communist China’s Drive for Global Supremacy.” The book highlights how, in Gertz’ eyes, the Chinese communist regime hoodwinked U.S. leaders into adopting a policy of engagement with China. But behind the scenes, the Chinese regime stole trade secrets, infiltrated and subverted the United States, and secretly developed powerful “assassins mace” weaponry, which are used by an inferior military to gain a military advantage.

“The United States faces a major strategic vulnerability in its satellites,” Gertz said in an interview with The Epoch Times for the “American Thought Leaders” program.

The US has “as few as 30 anti-satellite missiles or ground-based lasers or orbiting killer robot satellites,” Gertz said. “China would conduct a surprise attack on the United States, and one of the first things they would do would be to disable the missile warning satellites that we have.”

“And by using a combination of deception and laser attacks, they could take out a satellite and then successfully conduct a surprise strategic missile strike, kind of what I describe as a global Pearl Harbor.”

Developing space weaponry is just one part of a much broader offensive against the United States, as the Chinese communist regime seeks to amass power globally, according to the White House National Security Strategy. Beijing is seeking to corner the market on 5G, the next generation of communications technology, and also expand its global dominance through initiatives like Belt and Road, “a Trojan horse of Chinese expansionism,” Gertz said.

“They will tell these poor developing countries: ‘We’d like to build a railroad for you as part of infrastructure development,” Gertz said. “They lend the money at an exorbitant interest rate, and when the country can’t pay the debt, the Chinese will then come in and say, well, that railroad is now ours.”

“And in this way, they are literally buying up and taking over countries,” Gertz said.

A Disastrous Gamble

Since the 1980s, Chinese communist leaders deceived American leaders, Gertz said, into believing that by engaging with communist China, China would evolve into a more benign and democratic power. But “this gamble has been an utter disaster,” Gertz said.

“At the very end of the Cold War in the late eighties, Ronald Reagan discovered that the Soviet Union was highly dependent on U.S. and Western technology. And so a major effort was put in place to block technology from going there. And it was very successful. It contributed materially to the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Gertz said.

“The Chinese communist government studied that, and they took a completely different approach. Their deception was: ‘We’re not a communist power,’” Gertz said. “They presented a friendly face. But behind the scenes, they were engaged in massive theft of American technology and know-how.”

Chinese theft of American IP costs between $225 and $600 billion annually, according to a 2018 report by the United States Trade Representative.

Nearly twenty years ago, Gertz was one of the first to sound the alarm in his book “The China Threat: How the People’s Republic Targets America.”

“One of the real disasters of the engagement policy has to do with the spread of nuclear weapons,” Gertz said. As part of a Clinton administration initiative, Gertz said, the United States sent nuclear scientists to China, while China sent nuclear scientists to the United States.

According to the 1999 Cox Report, the Chinese regime stole through espionage classified information on seven warheads, including “every currently deployed thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal,” as well as the neutron bomb.

“Not only that, China shared this technology with Pakistan. And then Pakistan—through the AQ Khan nuclear supplier network—spread this technology to North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Libya. And we’re still dealing with the aftereffects of that,” Gertz said.

“So this is the kind of unfettered engagement that has been a disaster for American national security,” Gertz said.

Communist Deception

It took decades for America’s leadership to recognize the communist China threat, and this is, in Gertz’s view, a testament to the skill of the Chinese Communist Party to deceive Americans and infiltrate American institutions.

In 2016, Ron Montaperto, a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, pleaded guilty to passing classified information to Chinese military intelligence officials. According to Gertz, Montaperto was also a leader among pro-China intelligence officials in the U.S. government and academic community who claimed that China was not a threat.

Through either traitors or spies, the Chinese communist regime was also able to identify as many as thirty CIA-recruited agents inside China and elsewhere, and they were successively imprisoned or even executed in some cases between 2010 and 2012, according to former intelligence officials.

A likely suspect, in Gertz’ view, is a former CIA officer named Jerry Chun Shing Lee, who pleaded guilty in May to spying for China. During the FBI’s multi-year investigation, the FBI found two notebooks in his luggage with handwritten notes detailing the names and identities of recruited CIA agents.

Besides spying, the Chinese communist regime has also engaged in aggressive campaigns to influence, bribe, or threaten politicians and business leaders, Gertz said.

The regime will approach American companies doing business in China, and “they’ll say, we don’t like this legislation that’s being drafted on Hong Kong. And we expect you as a friend of China and someone who is doing business in China—and if you want to continue to be doing business in China—you have to go to the Congress and lobby against this legislation. This is a common tactic.”

For think tank researchers and academics, the Chinese regime can threaten them by restricting their access to the country. “You can’t get into the country if you don’t toe the friend-of-China line,” Gertz said.

A variety of such forms of coercion, bribery, and espionage fall under the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, which spearheads the regime’s global influence pedaling operations. “It’s essentially political warfare/intelligence operations designed to promote the Communist Party of China’s strategic objectives,” Gertz said.

The Chinese regime has been actively working against President Trump’s campaign for reelection in 2020, Gertz said.

In a speech in October 2018, Vice President Mike Pence said, “China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.”

“There can be no doubt: China is meddling in America’s democracy,” Pence said.

Yet despite all this, the Chinese communist regime has been able to skillfully manipulate the popular narrative about itself through deception, propaganda, and disinformation. One especially skillful piece of propaganda is equating China and the Chinese people with the Chinese communist regime, Gertz said. In doing so, the Chinese regime can thus attack critics of itself as anti-China.

“The China threat is not the Chinese people. It’s the Chinese Communist Party,” Gertz said, but the Chinese regime frequently conflates them as the same thing.

“High-Tech Totalitarianism”

Domestically, the Chinese communist regime has instituted a system of high-tech totalitarianism, and it wishes to also export that system abroad, Gertz said.

The Chinese communist regime’s dystopian social credit system, which it first introduced in 2014, will rank every citizen based on their compliance to the regime’s rules. If a person posts content on social media that the regime does not like, for instance, his credit score would suffer. And as a result, he would potentially face restrictions on his travel, purchases, and job prospects.

In Xinjiang in the northwestern part of China, the Chinese regime has put more than a million minority Uyghur Muslims in “concentration camps.”

“China is using technology, a lot of it stolen from the United States, for facial recognition to identify people,” Gertz said.

In September 2017, a state-run television program said the Chinese regime had built the world’s largest surveillance network, boasting more than 20 million cameras. In 2018, more than 170 million cameras were deployed as part of the Safe City program, and 400 million more cameras will be installed in the next two years all across China.

“As part of China’s drive for global supremacy,” Gertz said, “they want to export this high-tech totalitarian system to the entire world.”

A Path Forward

“The first thing is we need to be able to tell the truth about communist China, which is something we have not been able to do for many years,” Gertz said. “We’ve gone part of the way in identifying China as a strategic competitor or adversary, but not as a real enemy. And I think that we need to do that first. We need to be clear on the nature of the threat.”

“I’ve been urging the Trump administration, the most important thing they could do right now would be to publish a book-length white paper on the nature of the Communist Party of China,” Gertz said.

“I dedicated the book to the Chinese people because they do not want to live under that system,” Gertz said. “The party has no values other than its political support for the Communist Party.”

In his book, Gertz argued that the United States should begin withdrawing economically from China and establish a policy of strict reciprocity.

“For example, Chinese media operate freely here in the United States. And a large percentage of those personnel involved in state-controlled media are intelligence personnel,” Gertz said.

“So we should make it very clear that there has to be reciprocity, strict reciprocity, so that for every reporter that’s allowed to report here freely, the same access has to be provided to American and Western reporters in China. And if they don’t, then we should kick them out,” Gertz said.

Gertz also recommends the creation of a democratic parliament-in-exile. “Bring together democracy activists, whether they’re from Hong Kong or China or other places, and have them formulate free and open democratic policies for China. Have them meet once a year, record the proceedings, publish them, and then circulate them within China,” Gertz said.

“What China needs is democratic political reform. And that will never happen as long as the Communist Party of China is in power,” Gertz said.

American Thought Leaders is an Epoch Times show available on Facebook and YouTube.
Follow Jan on Twitter: @JanJekielek
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