Newsweek published this story under the headline “A Look at China's Army” on January 21 1980. In light of recent news involving China's growing military power Newsweek is republishing the story.


During his visit to China last week Defense Secretary Harold Brown inspected the world's largest army—and one of the least up-to-date. In his party was Newsweek's Pentagon correspondent David C. Martin who cabled this report:

在上周访问中国期间,国防部长Harold Brown 视察了世界上最大的军队——也是最落后的军队之一。《新闻周刊》五角大楼通讯记者David C. Martin 跟随报道如下:

Harold Brown got the closest look any American has ever had at the Chinese defense Establishment—a tour of the military college a display of tanks and warplanes in action and a visit (the first by any foreigner) to a submarine yard. Beneath the spit and polish Brown saw an army uncomfortably poised between the tenets of the "people's war" which brought the Communists to power and the demands of great-power preparedness in 1980. For the moment the People's Liberation Army (PLA) seems stranded in mid-century.

Harold Brown 是迄今最近距离观察中国国防建设的美国人——参观军事学院、坦克列展、战机表演,甚至还作为第一个外国人参观了潜艇。在光鲜的表面之下,Brown 看到的是一支介于坚守助GCD夺得权力的“人民战争”宗旨与追求强大实力之间的军队。目前来看,人民解放军似乎还停留在中世纪。


At the PLA's military college in Peking there is a model of a Chinese Atoll air-to-air missile. It is a copy of a U.S. heat-seeking Sidewinder missile captured from Taiwan in the early '60s. Since then the U.S. has gone through eight different models each with more sophisticated electronics than the last. As a result the top-of-the-line missile in the Chinese Air Force is a twenty-year-old weapon by American standards. What's more most of China's 4100 interceptors do not even carry the Atoll but are armed only with cannon.


POLITE PRAISE: The world's largest army (3.5 million strong) has embarked on a new "Long March" to modernize its forces and the distance to be traveled can be measured in years or decades. Brown himself politely praised China's F-7 fighter after he saw it on display; he said the plan had "considerably better instrumentation" than the Soviet MiG-21 on which it was based. But in general he said that Chinese equipment "corresponds to the best of the U.S. or Soviet unx a dozen years ago."

礼貌性的赞誉:世界上最大的军队(350万之众)已经开启了一场新的“长征”以现代化其军事力量,预计要花几年或几十年时间。Brown 本人在观看中国F-7战机展示后礼貌地称赞“其仪器明显比其原型苏联米格-21更好”,但总体来说,中国的装备“相当于美国和苏联十几年前最好的装备”。


The PLA's weaknesses became apparent during last year's attempt to teach Vietnam a lesson China's first military action since 1962. "The Chinese paid a heavy price" a U.S. official says although by most assessments Vietnam paid a heavier price. "At the tactical level the performance was sort of pedestrian" says another American analyst. "They lacked sufficient motor transportation and tactical communications and they had particular difficulty delivering enough ammo to their artillery units."


STRATEGY: Under Mao Tse-tung that would not have been a source of grave concern. His people's war was a strategy of converting weakness into strength; it relied on China's vast territory and teeming millions to swallow any invader. Even today U.S. analysts believe that the Soviets could not conquer China; the PLA's ability to defend the country in depth would exhaust invaders.



But post-Mao industrialization calls into question the concept of a people's war. "People's war is good when the society is predominantly agricultural" explains an American expert. "As the society becomes industrialized people's war means the sacrifice of the cities and that means the sacrifice of the nation's security. As a nation develops an industrial base it has to develop strength along the border to protect the industries."


No military analyst thinks the Chinese could successfully defend the frontier. Among the more glaring weaknesses: an air-defense system that in the words of one U.S. intelligence officer is "worthless under 5000 feet." By one U.S. estimate China would need as much as $60 billion worth of modern arms to repel a Soviet attack against its border. Even if someone were willing to sell that much—and if China were able to pay for it—that amount of new technology would take a generation to absorb.



PURCHASES: The PLA is avidly canvassing the world market for arms sending literally thousands of technicians shopping in Western Europe. For months they seemed on the verge of purchasing the Harrier jumpjet from Britain and the HOT anti-tank missile from France but neither deal has been closed. "They do not want to be in the position of acquiring their weapons systems entirely from other countries" Brown said. "They can afford neither the financial cost [nor the dependence] on other countries. What they have in mind is to buy enough to learn how to make their own."

购买:解放军热衷于考察世界军火市场,他们派遣了上千名技术人员去西欧采购,有那么几个月,他们好像要买英国的鹞式战斗机、法国的热导反坦克导弹了,不过最后没有一笔交易达成。“他们不想要他国的全套武器系统。”Brown 说,“他们既担不起成本,也不愿依赖于他国,他们的内心想法是买一些足以用来研究,最终国产化。”


Although it is declared policy that a strong China is in the national interest of the U.S. American officials agree that there are limits to that concern. The U.S. and China still have major differences of opinion over Korea and Taiwan. Despite the rhetoric about a defensive people's war the record of Chinese military actions—Korea India and Vietnam—is one of attack not retreat. Consequently the U.S. still will not sell weapons to China. For the foreseeable future the gap that separates the military power of the U.S. and China will be so great that the question of just how powerful China should be does not arise. But sooner or later the military advantage that the U.S. and Russia each holds over China will begin to wane. The question then becomes: will the Soviet unx try an accommodation with China or will it try to exploit its military advantage while that edge still exists?

尽管美国既定政策认为一个强大的中国符合美国国家利益,但美国官员也同意这是有条件限制的。美中在朝鲜台湾问题上依然有很大分歧。 尽管中国用“人民自卫战”这种修辞,但中国在朝鲜、印度、越南的军事行动是一种进攻行为。因此美国依然不会卖给中国武器。在可预见的未来,中美之间的军事实力的差距依然会如此巨大,以至于不会出现“中国将会多强大”这种问题。然而,美国和俄国对中国的军事优势早晚会减弱。那个时候问题就会变成:“苏联是选择和中国和解还是趁其优势依在设法稳固其优势?”