Air University Review, March-April 1986

Security Involvement
in Southwest Asia

Lt Col Samuel D. McCormick

THE Iran-Iraq War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and continuing conflict there, and the importance of Gulf oil to the U.S. and other Western economic systems—all remind U.S. military professionals of our nation's major security concerns in Southwest Asia. The economic, political, and strategic importance of the area prompts the involvement of many extraregional polities in the security affairs of the region, directly through military intervention, less directly through security assistance programs and arms sales/transfers, or through diplomatic initiatives. One such actor in the region—whose regional activities receive very little attention, even by professionals involved in studying regional security challenges—is the People's Republic of China (PRC). The purposes of this article are twofold: to explore China's security involvement in Southwest Asia, the scope of its activities, and its motivations for involvement; and to note their implications for U.S. and regional security interests. In this article, the term Southwest Asia (SWA) should be understood as coinciding with the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility (AOR) (see map), which includes all of the Arabian Peninsula (extended northward to include Jordan and Iraq), Egypt, the Sudan, the Horn of Africa and Kenya, plus Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This culturally, ethnically, and geographically diverse area cannot be considered as a single region except in one respect: as the AOR of a new U.S. unified command, it is the subject of regionally unique U.S. policies, objectives, and initiatives.

Importance of the Region

The United States has compelling interests in the security and stability of the region, which have been articulated in sequential presidential doctrines since the Second World War. These culminated in the establishment of the U.S. Central Command (formerly the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force) in January 1983. Beyond the obvious importance of access to the region's petroleum resources for the economic health of the Western economic system, the United States is interested in the security and stability of the area's moderate regimes and in keeping the area free of Soviet hegemony. The United States also recognizes the strategic importance of the region, both as a land bridge between Eurasia and Africa and as an air and sea communications crossroads that contains such important geographical constrictions as the Suez Canal, Bab al-Mandab, and the Strait of Hormuz. Finally, the United States strongly values establishment of an enduring and peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. While Israel and one of its primary adversaries (Syria) are outside the defined boundaries of the region, the instability and tension thrown off by the struggle have a profound impact on intraregional security. Indeed, the Arab-Israeli conflict is viewed by many of the leaders of the area as the most serious and certainly most enduring security issue they face.

For several reasons, Southwest Asia is also important to China. First, from the standpoint of China's security, Chinese Communist leaders since Mao have viewed the region—especially the portion comprising Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan—as a barrier to the encirclement of China. They have thus been very sensitive to any major outside power with the might to threaten China, whether it is the United States or the Soviet Union, involving itself in the affairs of the region.

Chinese concern about encirclement has been manifested especially at two specific times since the Communists came to power. The first was during the early 1950s, when U.S. diplomacy in the Eisenhower years was reflected in John Foster Dulles's efforts to establish collective security pacts to contain communism. The second period of concern has been more or less continuous since the early 1970s. In the wake of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, increasing Soviet adventurism throughout the Third World, and with China's perceptions of declining U.S. military power relative to the Soviet Union and diminished national resolve in the United States following the American withdrawal from Vietnam, China came to view the Soviet Union as its most immediate security threat. The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a variety of Soviet activities in South Arabia and the Horn of Africa, and thinly veiled 1985 Soviet threats against Pakistan over aid to the resistance in Afghanistan have done little to allay Chinese concerns.

The second aspect of Southwest Asia's importance to China is linked to the way in which China views itself, the region, and the world. In the Chinese view, after the Second World War, there was a vacuum in Southwest Asia (and in much of the Third World) left by the necessary but rather hasty withdrawal of Western European powers. The United States began stepping in to fill this vacuum. Initially, the Chinese supported Soviet efforts to oust U.S. influence from Southwest Asia and the third World, making the area safe for the socialist revolution. Soon it became apparent to China, however, that the Soviets merely wanted to supplant U.S. "imperialism" with Soviet "imperialism." Because the Chinese believed that in the oil resources and the strategic location of Southwest Asia lay the potential for economic control of the Third World, outside intervention by either the United States or the Soviet Union was cause for concern. Thus, the goal of Chinese actions shifted toward preventing the control of the Southwest Asia region—and the rest of the Third World—by any extraregional power. China not only prefers that regional disputes be settled by regional actors but also insists that no major Southwest Asia security issue, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict or Afghanistan, will be settled satisfactorily until the superpowers have ceased to interfere.1

Southwest Asia:
A Security Assistance Crossroads

With the plethora of critical regional security issues and the importance of the area to so many, it is no surprise that extraregional powers would vie for influence and that this competition should spread into the security assistance/arms transfer arena. Thus, since the mid-1970s, a greater share of U.S. arms sales and transfers have gone to the Middle East/Southwest Asia region (including Israel) than to any other in the world, while the Soviets have transferred tremendous quantities of armaments to their client states, sometimes reequipping the same states following successive Israeli victories. The area has received the greatest share of Chinese arms transfers also.

The Arab oil embargo during the late 1970s and attendant transfer of capital to the region have meant that many regional states have had the ability to purchase the very latest conventional weaponry and that their future conflicts would be even more lethal than past ones. The Iran-Iraq War, with many thousands killed in action thus far, seems to be bearing this out.

With some of the latest technology weaponry being transferred to the region, one might wonder how China could be competitive. It is widely held that China's latest military equipment is merely a modification, however good, of generations-old Soviet systems. Why would any regional state turn to China for its defense needs when more advanced weaponry was available, either from the West or from the Soviet Union?

The answer lies in the turbulent politics in the region and individual states' relationships with the superpowers. With political bedpartners in the region shifting like the sands of Arabia over the past twenty years, there are several major regional states (Egypt, for example) whose armed forces were once largely equipped by the Soviets but which since have cut themselves off from Soviet supply channels, spare parts, and defense credits. For these states, China offers an alternative in its enhanced older-generation equipment and parts, often provided at generous terms, which can keep presently equipped forces functioning.

Two types of weapon systems, which together comprise some of China's most significant arms transfers, illustrate this situation. The first category is fighter aircraft; the second category is armored fighting vehicles, especially main battle tanks.

Almost all Chinese fighter aircraft presently in production are based on Soviet aircraft designs transferred to China and approved for production in China in the late 1950s. These aircraft have been modified and enhanced substantially, sometimes to the point that a new design and designation have emerged. At times these designs have incorporated Soviet technology acquired without Soviet consent. Major systems with underlying Soviet designs include the J-5 (MiG- 15), J-6 (MiG-19), Q-5, a twin-engined, ground-attack aircraft derived from the J-6; J-7 (MiG-21), J-8, a new design based on advanced Soviet (MiG-23) and other technology acquired from various sources.

Production of the J-6 began in 1958. Together with the twin-seat trainer variant, the J-6 has proved a durable design. After the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, 140 J-6 aircraft were transferred to Pakistan (export designations F-6 and FT-6).2 These Pakistani aircraft have since been modified with additional equipment to accommodate the U.S. Sidewinder AAM for improved air-to-air combat capability and auxiliary fuel tanks for longer range. China exported 280 J-6 aircraft during China's fifth Five Year Plan (1976-80) and has made further deliveries in the early 1980s.3

The twin-engine Q-5 attack aircraft, designated the A-5 for export, was developed in the early 1970s, again from the venerable J-6. It uses the same powerplant but is larger than the J-6. Deliveries of this aircraft to Pakistan began in 1983 and continue today.4

The J-7 (export designation F-7) was copied from a Soviet MiG-21 delivered around 1960 but never intended by the Soviets for production in China. Because the MiG-21 design was transferred to several Soviet clients in Southwest Asia and elsewhere, China has found a market for the J-7's component parts and engines and for reconditioning of Soviet-made equipment among those states (such as Egypt) with strained or curtailed relations with the Soviets.

The J-8 is a new Chinese Mach 2, delta-wing, supersonic fighter that reportedly incorporates advanced Soviet technology acquired from MiG-23 aircraft supplied to China by Egypt, in addition to modern technologies acquired from other sources. J-8 development was started in the early 1970s. Use of full capabilities of the aircraft design has reportedly been slowed by problems in copying and reproducing advanced-capability power plants.5

China also has incorporated Soviet main battle tank (MBT) technology into two systems that have been transferred by China in considerable quantities to regional states but which have been modified to incorporate advanced technology and capabilities.

The Type 69 MBT (Soviet T62) entered production in 1969. It differs from the earlier Type 59 (Soviet T54), which it replaced in production, by enhancements in armament and the fire control system (including laser range finder and night vision equipment), as well as the obvious structural changes. The International Institute for Strategic Studies reports that 260 Type 69s have been transferred to Iraq.6 The earlier Type 59 was transferred to Pakistan in very substantial quantities. About eighty light tanks of Chinese origin have been transferred to the Sudan.7

All of these systems—both aircraft and tanks—are not competitive with the latest Western or Soviet technology. However, they do represent levels of technology that can be absorbed and successfully employed by many nations in Southwest Asia and throughout the Third World.

China's Increasing Involvement

China's economic and security involvement in Southwest Asia was quite limited until after 1976, with one exception, because of several factors. The first factor was the limitation of what China could provide to the area, given its own economic constraints and older-generation military technology that often was unattractive in the face of Western or Soviet willingness to transfer more modern systems. The second factor was Communist China's demonstrated reticence toward involvement in security alliance structures. That hesitation continues to the present, although China's desire for economic interaction has been on the rise.

China's shifting views

In considering the character, directions, and scope of China's security involvement and foreign policy toward Southwest Asia, one analyst has suggested three distinct phases: 1949-63, 1963-74, and 1974 to the present.8 These will be used as a convenient framework for this analysis.

During the first decade and a half of the Communist regime's leadership in Beijing (1949-63), China's actions were ideological reflections of the bipolar environment. China firmly supported Soviet foreign policy positions and vituperatively attacked U.S. and Western policy positions and actions (including the establishment of collective security pacts with Third World nations). During this 1949-63 period, Chinese weapons transfers and security assistance to Southwest Asia were almost nonexistent.

In 1963, after increasing disillusionment on a variety of ideological and practical matters, China split from the Soviet camp formally and bitterly. This break marked the beginning of a new phase of China's interaction in Southwest Asia, which was to extend through the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, the October 1973 (Yom Kippur) War, and the Arab oil embargo. This ten-year period was one of transition from the earlier policy alignment with Moscow to China's present policy positions. The split with Moscow was accompanied by a demonstrated willingness on the part of China to compete with the Soviet Union for influence, especially in the Third World. This competition proceeded from ideological bases rather than from economic goals or interests. Such grants of aid and developmental economic assistance as were extended were used to produce a measure of political influence. Securing access to strategic or other raw materials, gaining foreign markets, and improving economic conditions in underdeveloped parts of the region were only tangentially important. Sino-Soviet rivalry, as well as Sino-Western competition, in Southwest Asia was virtually an extension of a broader political/ ideological struggle and had few overtones of competition for markets and resources for economic gain.

The 1963-74 period marked the beginning of significant Chinese security assistance and arms transfers to Southwest Asia, with transfers to Pakistan especially significant. Also, after the 1967 Arab-Israeli (Six Day) War, China began providing arms and military/ideological training to radical substate actors, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Dhofar insurgents in Oman, as well as support for the new Marxist regime in South Yemen. These efforts were aimed at supporting local movements of "national liberation" that contested extraregional ("imperialist") forces in Southwest Asia. China's support for these movements was in consonance with its view that regional security would be obtained only when extraregional involvement in regional affairs had been stopped.

Since 1974, China's involvement has assumed the character and orientation found today (although in the mid-1980s a change might be occurring again). The transition was conditioned by the change in regional political dynamics brought on by the massive transfer of wealth into the center of Southwest Asia as an accompaniment to the Arab oil embargo. In addition, China became more worried about the danger posed by the Soviet Union. Third, China perceived that the United States was not confronting the Soviet challenge firmly enough, even though only the United States had the power to do so successfully.

The improved economic condition that many regional states achieved brought a new independence and importance to their actions in the global arena. The moderate and oil-blessed states were able to dispense some of their newfound wealth to wean other moderate regional states from radical or Communist influences. Economics became a most powerful factor in the political dynamics of regional states' interactions with extraregional powers.9 The oil-rich central states of Southwest Asia and, through their largess, other less-blessed Middle East states had less need of extraregional political advice, military assistance grants, and strings-attached arms transfers. Since most of what the Soviet Union had to offer was in the military assistance/arms transfer realm, Soviet contributions and interactions with these states have declined since 1974. Surprisingly, China's links have increased since the mid-1970s.

For China after the mid-1970s, the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, the death of Mao Zedong, changes in its view of the Soviet Union and Sino-Soviet relations, the need for economic revitalization internally to support the Four Modernizations (China's plan to upgrade its agriculture, industry, science and technology, and military), and changing political dynamics in Southwest Asia combined to alter the directions of China's involvement in the region. The perceptual changes wrought during the 1970s, one analyst has noted, were so significant that ideology itself became of marginal importance to China's foreign relations in Southwest Asia.10 Thus, increasingly since the late 1970s, China has been working to strengthen relations with conservative and socialist states alike in the area while cutting or substantially loosening its ties with radical, revolutionary, or dissident actors at the substate level.

So profound was this change in outlook that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the guiding precepts of China's former interaction in SWA—essentially, to provide support for the socialist revolution against the forces of reaction—were replaced by the concept of building the widest possible front against Soviet aggression and hegemony. China believed that the Soviet Union had a deliberate, well-conceived, even time-phased strategy to strangle the Third World and Western economic system through control of the oil and other resources of Southwest Asia and Africa, in the process outflanking and wrapping around Communist China. In the Chinese view, the Soviet Union had become the premier threat to world peace because, unlike its superpower rival (the United States), the Soviets had come to "imperialism" late, cloaking their actions in the guise of Marxism-Leninism as justification, and were more likely to encourage the use of force of arms, either directly or through surrogates, to effect political change since they could not compete economically with the West. Thus in September 1979, fully three months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister noted that the Soviet Union, ". ..with a view to encircling Europe, controlling strategic routes, seizing resources, and speeding up its expansion and strategic development for global hegemony, has increasingly directed the spearheads of its aggression at Africa [and] the Middle East."11

the exception: Pakistan

Although China's security involvement in Southwest Asia was limited prior to the late 1970s, an exception was Pakistan, with whom China has had pragmatic and enduring aid, trade, and military assistance agreements. Pakistan has been the principal recipient of Chinese military assistance since the mid-1960s. Thus today, a large share of Pakistan's military systems are of Chinese origin, either manufactured in China and delivered to Pakistan or manufactured in Pakistan from Chinese designs. Pakistan also has been the largest recipient of Chinese developmental economic aid in a relationship that dates back to the mid-1950s. Trade between the two nations has been modest as a total percentage of imports and exports but is important to both parties. The two countries are linked across their common borders by highways that have considerable strategic as well as economic importance.

What are the Chinese motives for this relationship, which is as close a one as China maintains with any state? Obviously, one important one is having Pakistan as a segment in the barrier to Soviet encirclement of China. Pakistan also represents a potential ally and political/military counterpoint to a hostile India, although China has lately tried for closer Sino-Indian relations. Additionally, Chinese aid to Pakistan serves as a model of what China can do for other Third World states. The economic factor is more important here than with other countries with whom China trades because an economically prosperous Pakistan is likely to be a more stable Pakistan, as well as a more lucrative trading partner.

Since the early 1980s, with renewed Western interest in the security and stability of Pakistan, advanced Western weaponry has been flowing into the country again. China has been content to emphasize Sino-Pakistani economic and trade relations, while continuing Sino-Pakistani arms transfers at a modest level. Because the Chinese see increased U.S./Western security assistance to Pakistan as improving Pakistan's defense against Soviet aggression, they welcome it. In fact, one analyst has noted that the Chinese recognize that they cannot stop a Soviet thrust into Pakistan but the United States may be able to. Thus the unusual situation exists wherein China is looking, none too covertly, to the West and the United States to secure Pakistan's territorial integrity against Soviet aggression.12

From Pakistan's perspective, the aid and military assistance that China has rendered reduce overdependence on the West—a supply source which has, from Pakistan's view, proved uncertain from time to time. The Chinese connection also has obviated the need for Soviet security assistance, which was offered to Pakistan in 1966, after the 1965 U.S. arms embargo and which China preempted with its assistance.

recent trendy and future prospects

While ideology has diminished asa director of China's interaction in Southwest Asia, economic interaction has increased. Chinese trade and official delegations have traveled frequently and extensively throughout Southwest Asia in the first half of the 1980s, especially to the oil-rich states of the Arabian Peninsula, promoting the benefits of trade with and investment in China. This aspect of China's involvement in Southwest Asia can be expected to increase in coming years, perhaps substantially, as may Arab investment in China.

In the 1980s, the security assistance/arms transfer aspect of China's involvement in Arab nations in the region cannot be considered insignificant. This circumstance is a substantial change from previous periods, for China's security involvement in Southwest Asia traditionally was the least important dimension.13 Prior to 1976, China had provided small arms, military training, and political indoctrination to some substate actors involved in wars ofnationalliberation, most notably in connection with the Arab-Israeli War, the Dhofar rebellion (Oman), and other Gulf "liberation front" movements, as well as to the newly independent Marxist regime of South Yemen, but no significant Sino-Arab arms transfers occurred.

Loss of access to Soviet equipment or the desire to seek alternatives, coupled with China's policy reorientation and more pragmatic approach, opened the door for Chinese security assistance and increasing arms transfers in Southwest Asia at an unprecedented level. Attrition of Soviet systems through several regional conflicts has served to accelerate China's involvement. In fact, China is perhaps the only state that can provide immediate, substantial materiel support to many weapon systems of Soviet clients when the Soviets turn off the tap.

Currently, four states in Southwest Asia are notable for the quantity of weapons of Chinese origin in their inventories. These states are Egypt (with more than 150 F-6/FT-6/F-7 on hand or on order, plus submarines and contract work on other systems), Iraq (260 T-69 and reportedly some F-6 and F-7 aircraft), Pakistan (more than 200 F-6/FT-6 and A-5 on hand or on order, plus 1000 T-59), and the Sudan (eight F-5, six F-6 and six more on order, and seventy-eight light tanks).14 The scope of China's security involvement is evident, and Chinese security involvement has, in the 1980s, a significant impact on the military balance in Southwest Asia.

Sino-Arab arms transfers picked up in 1976, shortly after President Anwar Sadat withdrew Egypt from Soviet-Egyptian treaty commitments. China was immediately forthcoming with weapons and support. China's new ambassador noted that Egypt could "rely on China for all its needs."15 Military relations were a subject of discussion when President Hosni Mubarak visited China in1983. The Egyptian foreign minister later commented on China's forthcoming attitude and reasonable approach to arms transfers and attendant financial arrangements. In August 1983, an article in Aviation Week and Space Technology reported at length on Chinese security assistance and arms transfers to the Egyptian Air Force (EAF), noting that both the F-6 and F-7 aircraft were being assembled in Egypt by Chinese technicians and EAF personnel. The EAF commander was quoted as saying that the Chinese F-7 "is an economical aircraft.... good for fighter pilot training to increase flying hours and proficiency. Egypt also is getting the F-6 from China for air defense training and close air support."16

The tremendous attrition of arms that Iraq experienced in the early years of the Iran-Iraq War—arms that the Soviets were reluctant to replace for fear of angering Iran—forced Iraq to turn to China for both aircraft and tanks. Several sources have reported the transfer of a considerable number of F-6 and F-7 aircraft and T-69 tanks to Iraq through other Middle East intermediaries. China denies these sales—it too, would not like to anger Iran, which is seen as a potentially lucrative economic market for Chinese wares when the war is over. Nevertheless, the presence of Chinese-built tanks in Iraq is sufficiently well confirmed that the International Institute for Strategic Studies lists Iraq as possessing 260 T-69 main battle tanks, while Aviation Week and Space Technology has recorded the transfer of both F-6 and F-7 aircraft.17

Whatever the financial terms at which the arms are transferred, the interaction in Southwest Asia yields an important advantage of considerable value to China's future national security. Through their contacts with regional armed forces, the Chinese have gained access to advanced Soviet (and probably Western) technology that heretofore was denied them but which is urgently needed to upgrade China's armed forces. Additionally, they have been able to keep abreast of Soviet military employment doctrines and tactics through study of several regional conflicts.

Interestingly, the Soviets have not seemed to want to counter actively China's increasing security assistance and arms transfer activities in the region. One Israeli analyst notes that "the Chinese arms sales . . . alleviated the neverending burden of their military supply to the Arabs, prevented Western monopoly of the market, and helped maintain the infrastructure for future deliveries of more advanced Soviet weapons."18 This Soviet acquiescence also is consistent with a lessening of Sino-Soviet tensions that seems to be taking place in the mid-1980s—a softening which appears desirable to both parties.

It appears that both China and the Soviet Union are subduing some of the sharp hostility characteristic of the past two decades. The reasons, from China's perspective, are fairly clear. Quite apart from internal political dynamics, which do play a part here, China desires a reduction in regional tensions that will permit it to advance its Four Modernizations, improve its economy, and encourage foreign investment in China. China, however, still actively denounces Soviet aggression in Afghanistan. Analysts have speculated on the extent of China's covert support of Afghan insurgents, which may have exceeded $100 million from 1981 through 1984.19 The Soviets have repeatedly denounced both the United States and China for the continuing Afghan resistance. China denies any support for the resistance and undoubtedly is concerned about the conflict expanding into Pakistan.

Implications for U.S. Security Interests in the Region

Given U.S. objectives in Southwest Asia, it is important that the United States develop positive relationships with China that are enduring and stable. For more than two decades after the PRC came into existence, the United States and China faced each other with acid hostility. By the early 1970s, changes in the attitudes and world views of both countries made possible a reassessment and a mutual conclusion that continued overt hostility was not in the best interests of either. Establishment of diplomatic relations and increased economic ties have provided a basis for better communication.

From a political and security outlook, U.S. and Chinese views of the major threats to global peace are more similar than dissimilar and have provided an additional basis for communication. As a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and Southern Asian Affairs (NEA) pointed out in a policy statement in 1982, "our parallel interests in containing the Soviet Union have been repeatedly reaffirmed, and we are in fundamental agreement that the Soviets remain the principal threat to the peace of the world."20

In this "parallel interest in containing the Soviets" and watchful deterrence against Soviet aggression, China has been a more vocal advocate than the United States through the early 1980s. The United States, China, and Southwest Asian regional leaders all share the goal of preventing Soviet hegemony over any subarea of the Southwest Asia region, and all are concerned about continuing Soviet aggression in Afghanistan.

China's increasing economic activities in Southwest Asia and in the Western economic system generally are, and should be, encouraged as a move toward greater cooperation, communications, and stabilizing interdependence. The present Chinese security assistance in Southwest Asia, and even some growth of this involvement in the future, should not be cause for excessive U.S. apprehension. On the contrary, it permits those regional states with Soviet-based military systems to maintain their defensive capabilities without returning to the Soviet Union for refitting nor total reequipping with Western military systems that would cost money and effort better devoted to economic and social development.

While the United States and China share a number of important policy views, including recognition of the threat posed by Soviet expansion, a desire for Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a desire for a permanent, stable resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it would be incorrect to state that the U. S. and Chinese positions on these issues are congruent. There are important differences, especially as to paths and processes to achieving the goals. It is important to bear in mind that while China considers the Soviet Union as the primary threat to world peace, it also perceives the United States to be part of the problem. In the Chinese view, many desired objectives—stability in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Peninsula, and the Horn of Africa; a satisfactory long-term resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, freedom in Afghanistan, and resolution of other Southwest Asia security issues—will not be achieved until both superpowers and other extraregional states have ceased to interfere in the affairs of Southwest Asia. This sentiment applies in a broader sense to superpower and developed-nation involvement anywhere in the Third World.

For its part, the United States recalls, wisely, that there remain basic problems to be overcome in U.S.-China relations, problems that arise from the fundamentally different political and economic ideologies and systems of the two nations. Nevertheless, there is enough common basis in our goals and policy positions toward Southwest Asia that the United States and China can both interact in the region very acceptably.

Author's note: I thank Professor Paul H. B. Godwin of Air University and Professor Harvey Nelsen of the University of South Florida for their comments and kind assistance in my preparation of this article.

MacDill AFB, Florida


    1. Yitzhak Shichor, The Middle East in China’s Foreign Policy, 1949-1977 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1979).

    2. Jane’s All the World's Aircraft 1983-1984 (London: Jane's Publishing Company, 1984), p. 34.

    3. Ibid.

    4. Ibid., p. 35.

    5. Ibid., p. 37.

    6. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), "The Military Balance," Air Force, February 1985, p. 123. Description of MBTs extracted from Jane’s Armour and Artillery (London: Jane's Publishing Company, 1984).

    7 IISS, "The Military Balance," p. 126.

    8. Edward Azar, "Soviet and Chinese Roles in the Middle East," Problems of Communism, May-June 1979, pp. 18-30.

    9. Ibid., p. 21.

    10. Lillian Craig Harris, "China's Response to Perceived Soviet Gains in the Middle East," Asian Survey, April 1980, p. 362.

    11. Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) daily report for China, quoted in Harris, op cit. For a longer discussion of China's perceptions of the Soviet threat and China's defense policy, see William R. Heaton's chapter in The Defense Policies of Nations: A Comparative Study, edited by Douglas J, Murray and Paul R. Viotti (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982).

    12. Harris, p. 369.

    13. Shichor, p. 269.

    14. IISS, "The Military Balance," pp. 122-45.

    15. FBIS daily report, quoted in Shichor, p. 267.

    16. Aviation Week and Space Technology, 15 August 1983, p. 134.

    17. Ibid. and IISS, "The Military Balance," p. 12.

    18. Shichor, p. 273.

    19. Far East Economic Review, April 1985, p. 42.

    20. Department of State, Current Policy Number 460 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1982), p. 2.


Lt Col. Samuel D. McCormick (M.A., Georgetown University; M.A. University of Kansas) is Chief, Strategy Working Group, U.S. Central Command, MacDill AFB, Florida. A Middle East area specialist who has served two tours as an advisor/attaché to Saudi Arabia, he has been a T-38A and C-130 pilot, an Air Staff officer, and a Research Fellow at Air University's Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education. His articles have appeared in numerous professional journals. Colonel McCormick is a graduate of Air War College.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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