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News Briefs

China Plans for Stronger Air Force


The commander of China’s air force said Monday Beijing would begin transforming the service from a territorial defense force into a more aggressive one with greater capabilities to attack beyond China’s borders, the New China News Agency reported.

Lt. Gen. Liu Shunyao said the air force would strive to “realize as soon as possible a change from territorial defense to a combination of defense and offense.” In separate comments Monday, on the 50th anniversary of the air force, President Jiang Zemin echoed Liu’s comments.

Liu’s remarks were yet another indication of China’s plans to use its military might to expand its influence in Asia. China has recently showcased in-flight refueling technology that will allow its fighter jets to patrol far into the South China Sea. China’s navy has announced plans to transform itself slowly from a coastal force into a blue water navy, which would allow it to use its military power in faraway oceans. China’s missile forces can strike almost anywhere in Asia and were given a boost over the summer with the successful testing of the Dongfeng-31, a ballistic missile with a range of 5,000 miles.

Much of China’s military modernization is aimed at the United States. Western analysts say China hopes to make Washington think twice about backing Taiwan -- which Beijing considers a breakaway province -- in any potential conflict with Beijing. China is seeking a limited deterrence -- through the purchase of Russian state-of-the-art anti-ship missiles, the development of its own missile systems and research into satellite and cyber warfare to challenge U.S. superiority in Asia.

William Winter, the First ‘Voice of America,’ Dies


William Winter, veteran radio and television commentator and the first “Voice of America” who became an expert on international affairs, has died at the age of 92.

Winter died Wednesday in Los Angeles, his wife, Peggy, said Monday.

After decades as a war correspondent and network news analyst, Winter channeled his experience into becoming a sought-after speaker on international affairs at campuses and conferences around the world and an instructor of University of California, Los Angeles, extension courses. In later years, he also organized the William Winter Study Tours, leading various groups to far-flung venues from Africa and the Soviet Union to India and the Philippines, where he was revered.

In 1956, Winter became the only American to receive the Philippines’ designation as Commander of the Legion of Honor for his work during World War II. A special military parade was staged in Manila and then Filipino President Raymon Magsaysay said:

“The voice of William Winter is part of our history. Without his daily reassurance which we heard on our secret radios, Philippine resistance would not have been possible. It was William Winter who kept alive our faith, our hope, our confidence in America, our belief in democracy.”