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Inside Bill Gertz' ring

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Bill Gertz (pictured) is the author of paranoid classics such as Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, and Treachery: How America's Friends And Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies, not to forget The China Threat: How the People's Republic Targets America. He is also an analyst for Fox News and national security reporter for The Washington Times, as well as co-author of a weekly Internet screed called 'Inside the Ring'.

This weekend, the Washington Times published an article by Gertz with the portentous and clichéd title of 'The Chinese dragon awakens'. These are the first two paragraphs:

China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials.

U.S. defense and intelligence officials say all the signs point in one troubling direction: Beijing then will be forced to go to war with the United States, which has vowed to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.

Meantime, the 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' has published an article by Jeffrey Lewis of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy called 'The ambiguous arsenal'. Excerpt:

Recent reports warn that China is aggressively building up its nuclear forces. Don't believe the hype.

If you read the Washington Times, in addition to believing that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are hidden somewhere in Syria, you might believe that "China's aggressive strategic nuclear-modernization program" was proceeding apace. If munching on freedom fries at a Heritage Foundation luncheon is your thing, you might worry that "even marginal improvements to [China's intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)] derived from U.S. technical know-how" threaten the United States.

So, it may come as a shock to learn that China's nuclear arsenal is about the same size it was a decade ago, and that the missile that prompted the Washington Times article has been under development since the mid-1980s.

The other Chinese threat being talked about in the US is the Mainland's new appetite for buying up American companies, most notably the current bid by state-owned giant CNOOC to acquire Unocal. The New York Times has an op-ed by Paul Krugman, whose feelings on the matter are crystallized in the last paragraph of the piece:

If it were up to me, I'd block the Chinese bid for Unocal. But it would be a lot easier to take that position if the United States weren't so dependent on China right now, not just to buy our I.O.U.'s, but to help us deal with North Korea now that our military is bogged down in Iraq.

Writing in the Financial Times, Amity Shlaes — who does not share Krugman's need to blame all America's woes on the war in Iraq — has this to say:

If Lenovo, Haier or CNOOC were private companies, their acquisitions would trouble Americans less. But US citizens are not comfortable with the idea of the Chinese public sector buying up the US private sector.

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