FY 2000 defense authorization act now handicaps the US military

By Zhou Bo
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 16, 2015
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 [By Jiao Haiyang/China.org.cn]

Of all things that have a long-lasting negative impact on the Sino-US military-to-military relationship, nothing has been comparable to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 (NDAA).

Enacted by the US Congress on October 5, 1999, NDAA restricts “inappropriate exposure” of the PLA to 12 operational areas such as force-projection operations, nuclear operations, advanced combined-arms and joint combat operations, advanced logistical operations, capabilities related to weapons of mass destruction; surveillance and reconnaissance operations, joint war fighting experiments and military space operations. It also requires annual reports on contacts with the PLA. The fear is that any exchanges in these areas might contribute to PLA’s warfighting capabilities and “create a national security risk”.

Sixteen years later, clearly the act hasn’t been able to play its “due role” of impeding the growth of the strength of the PLA. China’s booming defense industry is more capable than ever of providing indigenously made state–of-the-art weaponry and equipment to the PLA, as showcased in recent Tiananmen Square parade; the PLA can draw lessons from its own scenario-based joint exercises and drills; the PLA can also learn from its joint exercises with other countries, especially from its regular exercises with Russia. In short, PLA’s growth of strength doesn’t necessarily depend on its exchanges with the US.

The American military certainly know how important it is to maintain collaboration with the PLA. Sometimes they are even willing to take the risk of “violating” the legislated restrictions, although in a limited way. For example, in spite of protests from some corner of Capitol Hill, Pentagon had invited the PLA to attend the non-combat parts of the US-led RIMPAC 2014 and Cobra Gold exercises. The two militaries also held joint exercises in counter-piracy in the Gulf of Aden and a humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief exercise at Hainan Island.

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