CHINESE COMMUNISTS BRACE FOR POSSIBLE SPREAD OF INDOCHINA WAR

Created: 2/12/1965

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5 CHINESE COMMUNISTS BRACE FOR POSSIBLE SPREAD OF INDOCHINA WAR

The steady build-up of Chinese Coeaunistary strength ln South China sincetrongly suggests that Pelplng is preparing against thethat an expansion of tho Indochina war nay lead to direct Chinese invoLvemont. Takenhole, Peiping's efforts to Improve itsappear defensive. There arc no indications that the Chinese leaders Intend to Initiate new Military action ln Southeast Asia at this tlie, but it seems clear froa their actions that tbey aro do-terained to continue their encouragement andfor Coaaunlst insurgency. The Chineseprobably reflect concern that continuedin South Vietnam will increase the danger of repeated and heavy US blows against North Vietnam (the DRV) or Coaaunlst China. This appears to bo the sense of Foreign Minister Chen Yl's recentto the French aabassador that the war waswell for the Coaaunists but there was aof US "fireworks" before final victory.

Pelplng certainly hopes toirect confrontation with US forces, and the steps it has taken are probably calculated ln part to back up threatening propaganda aimed at doterring the US froa actions which wouLd bring It face to face with Coaaunlst China. The Chinese aro probably committed to respond in soae fashion if there ls an ail-out US attack on the DRV, however, and would beto "stand idly by" lnituation. official stateaentebruary reafflraedproaises to assist North Vletnaa andthat the Chinese were "well prepared in this respect,"

stantial enlargement of the armedilitlt build-up, and civil defense preparations.

Planning for Joint action designed to counter lossible US moves probably began in earnest during

Early Military Plannlnn

Joint planning Cor closer Chines* cooperation in defense of the DRV apparently began veilear ago, probably aa partong-range strategyradual build-up of Pelplng's strength in South China to be ready for hostilities should the need arise

,August, aof Chinese jet fighters was deployed to Mengtzu airfield

No unu-was noted in South China during or innedl-ately after this period.

Planning for measures to cope with possible US military moves tookudden urgency lo the spring in early May the US had made It clear to the Communist leaders ln Pelplng and Hanoi that the deteriorating situation in Laos and South Vietnamatter of vital and growing concern in Washington. The core of the US nessagearning that the Indochina war night be enlarged If the Communists aid not ease their heavy pressure in Southeast Asia.

US threats of possibleagainst the DRV apparently aroused sharp concern ln the Communist cami

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ormal statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Yi putting the US on notice that any attack on North Vietnam carried grave risk of countermoves by Communist China.

Evidence of Pelplng'sto help defend the DRV, and Indications of theto which Chinese moves in support of Hanoi had beenId advance began tofollowing tbe Tonkin Gulf crisis In August. Official from Washington made It clear that thisne-time reactionpecificnot the first phaseajor escalation. The incident demonstrated, however, thatsome circumstances the US was willing to intervene directly by mounting limited attacks against the DRV.

The Air and Naval Build-up

Pelplng's response to the employment of US air power against targets in the DRVlast of belligerent propagandaeries of moves toair defenses in North Vietnam and South China. The speed of the reaction suggests that well-prepared contingency plans were being put into effect. egiment of Jet fighters Into North Vietnam's Phuc Yon Airfield ln Augustecond regiment in December. Fighter strength in South China has been more than doubled.et fighters have been moved into the area since August,

raising the total depLoyed there. This build-up hassoupFarmer)ew MIG-21 (Flshbed) Jet Their transferubstantial increase in radar installations andartillery.

Since October, an airfield suitable for use by tactical jet fighters has bean underat Ntngming, ten miles north of the Vietnamese border. This probably will be servlce-able by this sprlni

There areoot unpaved runway at this field.is being improved. Another airfield, near the Burma border at Peitun, which can already accommodate Jet fighters, is alBO being

There are increasingthat tbe Chinese mayto use their growing air strength in tbe area to defend North Vietnam, as well as South China. anuary, Chinese MIGs stationed at Nannlnga drone vehicle across the Vietnamese border and shoi down over North Vieti

for North Vietnam under some circumstances.

Peiplng's South China Fleet has increased its capability in tlie Tonkin Gulf since August.

years, recruiting shifted largely to an urban base tWhlle no solid figures on the summer4 have been made

known extrapolation from tbe

ttab-

Lished in the Peihai area on the north shore of the Tonkin Gulf. Although the South Sea Fleet has no major naval vessels,umerous patrol craft and motor torpedo boats which coulda limited threat to US naval operations in the Tonkin Gulf.

Expansion of the Army

There are some Indications that the Chinese Communists have decided to expand their al-ready large armed forces."

he recruited andduring the winter towith the farming cycle, as most inductees were from rural areas. Because peasant recruits had fewer skills and had become less reliable during the disaster

ouldtotal

goal of

which would be inannual quotas.

ne-year extension of the terms of service for the army, air force, and navy to four, five, and six years, This orderhalts the demobilization which has been going onwith the seconddrive. The net effect of retaining most of those who would normally be demobilized at this tine and the twodrives last year would be to Increase the size of the armed forcesubstantial

number. Another effect of the mandatory extension of tours, of special Importance tomilitary preparedness, is that the army will be able to retain its best-trained troops for an additional year. At the same time, the proportion of raw recruits In the service at any one time will be reduced. In fact, the proportion should be significantly lover this year, because the militia, from which tbe army draws most recruits, has greatly stepped up its pre-inductipn basic Infantry

Militia Build-up

At tbe same time that the regular military forceshave been quietlyajor build-up of tho civilian

People's Militia has been taking place under the full glare oflaimed peakillion during the Great Leap Forward, the militia collapsed and was all and militiaremained limited even through With the general hardening of the regime's policies in June, however, and training of

a strength on the orderillion. Current training covers most basicskills, including the use of live ammunitionarge scale for the first time In four years.

Peiplng intends to use tbepartlyew tool for controlling domestic dissidence,

particularly in conjunction with the intensifying "socialistcampaign. Nevertheless, Pelping has also played up the militia's potential as areserve which can release regular troops for duty Despite the regime's hopes, however, itrustworthyforce can be organizedarge scale.

Civil Defense Preparations

For the first time in years, Indications of civil defense preparations in South China have begun to appear. On Hainan Island, accordingefugee who left In November, air raid trenches were being dug and air raid drills conducted.

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as "quite miserable and"

Despite this bold talk, Peiplng's preparations forindicate continued respect for US power directly applied in tbe field. The Chinese may well despise tbe USheavily discounting the possibility of an all-outagainst China, but areready to cope with stepped up "tactical" thrusts against tho DRV. Their emphasis on air defense and the build-up of

naval capability indicates the kind of limited US action they regard as;most likely. Themoves to increase thestrength of their ground forces during the next six months or so are probably Insurances against an all-out US attack which the Chinese accept as

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