CHINESE COWUMISTS BRACE POH POSSIBLE SPSEAD OF INDOCHIXA WAR
The steady build-up of Chinese Communistl . strength Id South China sincestrongly sugceata that Peiplng is preparing against thethat an expansion of tho Indochina war say load to direct Chinese Involvement. Takonhole, Polplng's efforts to improve Itsappear defensive. There are no Indications that tho Chinese leaders intend to lnltlato now military action in Southeast Asia at this time,eemn clear from their actions that they arcto continue their encouragement andfor Communist insurgency. The Chineseprobably reflect concern that continuedIn South Vletnan will increase tho danger of repeated and heavy US blows against North Vietnam (the DRV) or Communist Chins. This Appears to be tho sense of Foreign Minister Chen Yl's recentto the French ambassador that theVisweor tbe Communists but there was aof US "fireworks" before final victory.
Peiplng certainly hopes toirect confrontation with US forces, and the steps it has takon are probably calculated ln part to back up threatening propaganda aimed at deterring tho US froa actions which would bring it face to face with Communist China. The Chinese are probably committed to rospond ln soae fashion if there Is an all-out US attack on the DRV. however, and would helo "stand idly by" lnituation. Pci-plng'n official statementebruary reaffirmed earlier promises to assist North Vietnam andthat the Chinese were "well prepared ln this respect."
Planning for Joint action designed to counter poftHlblc US moves probably began ln earnesteries of secret meetings with top DRV officials in Late June and early Evidence ofmilitary preparations began to increase from that time on and the pace picked up after theGulf crisis ln Chinese actions include the holding of an unusual number of high-level military meetings, improvement of air defenses and navsl forces in South Chins, what may be aenlargement of the armedilitia build-up, and civil defense preparations.
Early Military Planning
Joint planning (or doner Chinese cooperation in defenao of tho DRV apparently bognn wolLear ago, probably aa partong-range strategyradual build-up of Pelplng's strength in South China to be ready for hostilities should the need arise. During tho tuner3 Chinese and Vietnamese military officials conferred ln China. Shortly thereafter, io August, aof Chinese jet fighters mas deployed to Mengtzu airfield
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Just north of the Vietnamese border.
Another meeting may have taken place about six months later. Activity by DRV andmilitary transportsflights to Kunming, Mcngtzu, and Ssumao earLy in4 raised the possibility that additional consultations mere in progress. It seems Likely that if talks actually took place, they were for the purpose of working out the general lines of contingency plans. Momilitary activity was noted in South China during orafter this period.
Planning for measures to cope with possible OS military raovos tookudden urgency In the spring ln early Hay the US had made it clear to the Communist leaders in Peiplng and Hanoi that the deteriorating situation in Laos and South Vietnamatter of vital and growing concern in Washington. The coro of the US messagearning that the Indochina war might bo enlarged if the Communists did not ease their heavy pressure In Southeast Asia.
US threats of possibleagainst the DRV apparentlysharp concern in the Communist camp, and triggered secret meetings between Chinese and Vietnamese leaders during late June and early July. These woro precededpecialof the Chinese central commit tee held in conjunction wlih extraordinary military ro-vli'us onndune presided
by Uao Tse-tung himself and attended by large numbers of top military and party
Shortly after these widely publicized displays of Military strength, top-ranning Horthleaders began to arrive in Peipingonference which began onune and lasted for about five days. Theapparently was continued in Hanoi fromoune and then shifted to Kunming where final sessions took placetho first week in July. The Communists have never released any information concerning these consultations;
^ ^ There is
little doubt, however, that they revolved around the question of how China would react If the US struck directly at the DRV.
It seems likely that the wetesulted frompressure for firmer support. Alarmed by US talk of carrying the war north, Hanoi nay havenew assurances of Chinese military assistance in the event of anup byplans for action in such an eventuality. Tbe Vietnamese probably also askedore forthright publicof Petping'sat
the US from enlarging the conflict. This was forth-covinguly In h formal statement by Chinoso Foreign Minister Chen Ti putting the US on notice that any attack on North Vietnam carried grave risko moves by Communist China.
Evidence of Peiping'tfto help defend the DRV, and indications of theto which Chinese moves in support of Hanoi had beenIn advance began tofollowing the Tonkin Gulf crisis in August, officialfrom Washington mado It clear that thisne-time reactionpecificnot the first phaseajor escalation. The incident demonstrated, however, thatsome circumstances the USwilling to intervene directly by mounting limited attacks against tlie DRV.
The Air and Mnval Build-up
Peiping's response to the employment of US air power against targets In the DRVlast of belligerent propagandaeries of moves toair defonsos 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 Yen Airfield in 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 hassomeFormer)ewFishbed) Jet Their transferubstantial increase in radar installations andartillery.
Since October, an airfield suitable for use by tactical jet fighters has been underat Nlngmlng, ten miles north of the Vietnamese border. This probably wllL beby this spring. Thehave recentlyet familiarization flightmall airfield near the Laos border at Shuimo. There arethatoot unpaved runway at this field is being Improved. Another airfield, near the Burma border at Peltun, which can already accommodate jet fighters, la also being
There aro Increasingthat the Chinese mayto use their growing air strength in the area to defend North Vietnam, as well as South China. anunry, Chinese MIGs stationed at Manninga drone vehicle across the
Vietnamese border and shot it
down over North Victnam.
other evidence suggests that China may be preparing to assume tactical air defense responsibility
for North Vietnaa under some circumstances.
Pelping's South China Fleet bas increased its capability In the Tonkin Gulf since August. The headquarters of the South Sea Fleet was transferred from Canton to Fort Bayardmall naval facility wasin the Peihai area on the north shore of the Tonkin Gulf. Although the South Sea Fleet has no major naval vessels, it has numerous patrol craft and motor torpedo boats which coulda Halted threat to US naval operations in the Tonkin Gulf.
Expansion of the Army
There are soae indications that the Chinese Communists havo decided to expand theirLarge armed forces. Two large-scale conscription drivesecent extension oftours of duty may havo had the net effect of expanding these forces fromillion to moreillion.
The first conscription drive took place from July to October,/
1 Tnis appeafcu at me
tlme to beepetition of the annual summerof the previous three years. 5ho army had recruited andduring the winter towith the farming cycle, aa most inductees wcro fron rural areas. Because peasant recruits had fewer skills and had become less reliable during tbe disaster
years, recruiting shifted largely to an urban baaeL. While no solid figureshe summer4 have been made known, extrapolation from the number inducted from Kao-yao Special District inouldotal national goal of, which would be ln line with normal annual quotas.
a second on drive was under way. Waoy of thewere being drawn from areas that presumably had already supplied their annual quota ln the summer. This Is the first timeajor winter drive has been noted9 and the first time that two heavy drives arc known to have taken place la one calendar year. figures for citheror demobilization are lacking, the total number ofover the past year would seem to have been greater than the normal annual quota.
Onanuary, Pelpinga one-year extension of the terms of service for the army, air force, and navy to four, five, and six years, This orderhalts tbe demobilization which has been going onwith the seconddrive. The net effect of retaining most of those who would normalLy be demobilized at this time and the twodrives last year would be to increase the size of the armed forcesubstantial
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Another effect of tho 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 tbe same time, the proportion of raw recruits in the service at any one time will bo reduced. In fact, tho proportion should be significantly lower this year, because tho militia, from which tho army draws most recruits, has greatly stepped up its pro-induction basic infantry
at the same time that the regular military forceshave been quietlyajor build-up of the civilian
People's UlLitla has been taking place under the full glare of propaganda. laimed peakiLllon during the Great Leap Forward, the militia collapsed and was allnd militiaremained limited even through Kith the general hardening of the regime's policies in June, however,and training ofwas suddenly stepped up, By now, according to tenuous Indications, the militia may havetrength on the orderillion. Current training covers most basicskills, Including the use of live ammunitionarge scaLe for the first time ln four years.
Peiplng intonds to use thslitis partlyew tool for controlling domestic dlssldence, particularly in conjunction with the intensifying "socialistcampaign. Nevertheless, Peiplng has also played up the militia's potential as areserve which can rolease regular troops for duty else-wbere. Despite the regime's hopes, however, itrustworthyforce can be organizedarge scale.
Civil Defense Preparations
For the first time inyears, indications of civil defense preparations ln 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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toominant position despite the additional airprovided for the armies of Souvanna Pbourna.
There ih evidence mat locar
government units on the South Chins border vith Laos andhave been preparingwar evacuation plans.
Takenhole, thoCommunists' effort to strengthen their armed forces in general, and particularly to improve ihi-lr sir and navmJ in the region near the 3ino-Vletnamese border, appears defensive. Pelping seems to be preparing to ward off blows which it fears may fall, rather than getting ready toassive offensive thrustto finish off tho war quickly. At tne same time,hopes that its actions backing up Its bellicosewill serve to detor the US from any escalation of the war.
The Chinese appearthat the months ahoad will bring new successes In theby the Viet Cong to wrest control over the countryside in South Vietnam front the In Saigon and eventually toeutralist regime which would InsistSfrem the area. Pwlplng is probably equally well pleased by the situation In Laos, where Communist forces have been able
about developments in Southeast Asia shown by Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Yi/
|is in part
psychological warfare, but It probably reflects the general lines of Peiping's estimate concerning the trend of events.
is for Laos, American support would be withdrawn after tho game was played out in South Vietnam and thewould be forced to reach agreement among themselves.
Polplng'a propaganda paints tbe US situation In Southoast Asia as Increasingly desperate. Although some of the Chinese leaders doubtless realize that this picturewelling tide of Communist victory Is, they are probably to none extent bemused by their own Chou En-lai'ssneers at tho feebleness of "Imperialism" at tbe banquet honoring Indonesian Deputy Prime Minister Subandriouggestood of The Chinese premier scoffed at defensive military preparations by tbe UK agaloat Indonesia and declared thatthe US "paper tiger is baring It fangs and showing Itstbe Chinese people regard
It ar "quite mlserablo and."
Despite this bold talk, Peiplng's preparations lorIndicate continued respect for U9 power directly applied ln the 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 the taw. Their esphasls on air defense and the build-up of
naval capability indicatesof limited US actionas most likely. Themoves to Increase thestrength of theirduring the next sixso are probablyan all-out UStbe Chinese accept asbut do not think is wryOriginal document.