China Undermining U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 10 months ago

From Aviation Week (courtesy of Tigerhawk):

Chinese advisers are believed to be working with Afghan Taliban groups who are now in combat with NATO forces, prompting concerns that China might become the conduit for shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, improved communications and additional small arms to the fundamentalist Muslim fighters.

A British military official contends that Chinese specialists have been seen training Taliban fighters in the use of infrared-guided surface-to-air missiles. This is supported by a May 13, 2008, classified U.S. State Department document released by WikiLeaks telling U.S. officials to confront Chinese officials about missile proliferation.

China is developing knock-offs of Russian-designed man-portable air defense missiles (manpads), including the QW-1 and later series models. The QW-1 Vanguard is an all-aspect, 35-lb. launch tube and missile that is reverse-engineered from the U.S. Stinger and the SA-16 Gimlet (9K310 Igla-1). China obtained SA-16s from Unita rebels in then-Zaire who had captured them from Angolan government forces. The 16g missiles have a slant range of 50,000 ft. The QW-1M is a variant that incorporates even more advanced SA-18 Grouse (9K38 Igla) technology.

So far, there has been a curious absence of manpad attacks on NATO aircraft in Afghanistan. One reason is that the Russian equipment still in place is out of date and effectively no longer usable, the British official says. Another may be that the possession of such a weapon is a status symbol, so owners are reluctant to use it. However, the introduction of new manpads could change that equation.

Although there have been no attacks using manpads, “we act as if they exist,” notes the British officer. “We know they are out there,” he says, alluding to the proliferation of increasingly advanced missiles on the black and gray markets.

In fact, NATO officials know they exist, at least in Iraq, according to the classified U.S. State Department document. U.S. officials were instructed to provide the Chinese government with pictures of QW-1 missiles found in Iraq and ask how such missiles were transferred.

The report goes on to outline various question marks thrown up within the intelligence and diplomatic communities about this report.  But assuming its accuracy, it shows once again that China is at war with the U.S., and correctly and accurately speaking, unrestricted warfare.

Secretary Gates recently made a fantasy land visit to China, calling for the two countries to prevent “mistrust, miscalculations and mistakes.”  Into which category does providing weapons to insurgents in Afghanistan fall?

  • DirtyMick

    I know world politics is very complicated but if this is true and the chicoms are indeed doing this then it’s an act of war plain and simple. Then again nothing will happen seeing as what the Chinese, North Koreans, and Iranians (EFPs republican guard etc) have done in the past and the US government never responds. Par for the course

  • Corsair8X

    Is it more of a cold war though? I ask because of the parallels between this event and the US supplying Stingers to the then-muj. I think that was a sort of frontline cold war thing. As a result, I’m not sure that this event is much different. Atthe very least though, it is a sort of (passive?) agression. Maybe they hope Afghanistan sucks the US dry as it did to the USSR.

  • TS Alfabet

    Interesting comparison here to 1980′s when the U.S. provided lots of Stinger missile systems to the Muj fighting the Soviets.

    For whatever reason, the Soviets decided not to regard U.S. actions as an act of war despite the fact that those missiles were downing a lot of Soviet helicopters. The U.S. support for the Muj continued.

    This is not to say that the U.S. should follow a similar policy, but simply recognize that rival world powers have always and will always push the envelope as far as they can through proxies. There are steps the U.S. can take short of open war that would make the Chinese (and Iranians and Pakistanis for that matter) pay a price for their proxy war. The response can be ratcheted up if they do not cease.

    Rather than calling it “unrestricted warfare,” which to my mind includes open attack against our military forces, we seem to be in a new Cold War with China. Or Cold War II.

    In any case, it seems that we would be in a bit of a “pot calling the kettle black” if we were to publicly decry China providing manpad know-how to the Taliban.

  • http://cowboyjihad.blogspot.com Rick

    I am a little late jumping in here. China is engaging in 4 generation warfare against the U.S. and has been for some time. They currently control the Panama canal and most of the major ports in Mexico. Where does most of our illegal drugs come from Mexico how does Afghani heroin end up in the states? There are millions of COSCO (China’s mechant fleet) that flow from Asia to Mexico and the U.S. John Poole suggests that this fleet is being used to transport Asian heroin to the Americas as a way to aid in weakening the country from within.

    Also there has been a history of China providing aid to groups fighting whoever is invading Afghanistan at any time. Personally I think they do it as a way to weaken their enemy. During the Soviet invasion China saw the Soviet Union as its main Asian enemy. Now China sees the U.S. as it main enemy both economically and in world influence.

    What would be really interesting is what is going to happen when China’s Muslims start directing their efforts internally and while terror operations are harder in a police state there have already been several.
    http://pacificempire.org.nz/2007/03/18/major-terrorist-attacks-in-china-1997-2007/

    Before the 2008 Olympics, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a small group of soldiers were attacked by a group of unseen attackers. A lot of soldiers died, and the attackers had weapons and training. These were Muslim terrorists it will be interesting to see when al-Qaeda turns its eyes on the worlds largest country.

  • http://umc-unofficiallaymanopenforum.ning.com/ Warbucks

    “The (Stinger) missiles did make an impact in their initial few months — shooting down dozens of Soviet and Afghan aircraft and compelling others to abandon their missions or to fly so high as to be ineffective. Soon, however, Soviet technical and tactical countermeasures largely nullified the effects. Soviet aircraft were retrofitted with flares, beacons, and exhaust baÛes to disorient the missiles, and Soviet pilots operated at night or employed terrain-hugging tactics to prevent the rebels from getting a clear shot. The best evidence that the Stingers were rendered ineffective is that the mujahideen had all but stopped firing them by 1988, despite continued receipt of hundreds more from the CIA. Instead, the rebels sold the missiles in international arms markets or squirreled them away for future use. ” (source Foreign Affairs Council of Foreign Relations: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/57633/alan-j-kuperman/stinging-rebukes)

    I realize there have probably been considerable advancements in shoulder fired missile technology since then.

    The larger national concern seems to be that we have never been at war continuously this long and our national challenges to peace-keeping under our existing foreign policies seems to be testing us as never before.

    Iran (the new evil empire?)
    Russia (a WWII Allie)
    China (a WWII Allie)
    South Asia
    North Korea

    It seems like we are on track to keep fighting for the next decade at least. I do not see the national will lasting this long without major changes in the level of violence required to keep us in the combative mode, which is a very bad intuitive observation I would rather not hold.

  • http://umc-unofficiallaymanopenforum.ning.com/ Warbucks

    You know I just read my quoted post above for the second time and realize it says the Muj where not only shooting down Russian planes with Stingers but their own planes as well! I remember when the stingers first went into service. There wasn’t I pilot I knew that thought it was a good idea. We were more afraid of them being used on us by mistake than on the enemy by intent.


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This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,China and was published December 17th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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