Notes taken during conversations with Chinese military officers, veterans of the Sino Vietnam War.
Although the Chinese effort in Vietnam in 1979 might appear, at first, to outsiders, and particularly to Americans, who lost the Vietnam war, to be strikingly successful. And in some respects it was. But to us, in analyzing what happened, in our so-called after action reports, we were upset by the huge costs of the victory. Basically, the PLA was not well prepared for the war. They did not have much time, first. And so many units after getting up at 6:00 am were simply told to pack everything and the following day they were in battle. They were poorly trained and ill prepared for the conflict. And just look at some of the portion of the ammunition they were asked to use against the Vietnamese, it was long-ago expired. As a consequence, a lot of shells, even though they hit the targets, didn't explode(this is illustrated in the popular Chinese film "Garlands at the Base of the Mountain," in which Chinese troops sacrifice much because of bad ammunition, finding in overrun Vietnamese positions, the very latest equipment supplied by the PLA) The logistical support was always a problem. One guy who came out of the Vietnam war as a national hero, his name is Xu Yenbing, he was the father of Xu Guangda, and he was the father of the Chinese armored corps. Like Mr. Xiao, they were all handpicked by Mao. Mr. Xu had been the general commander of the Chinese armored corps in what we call the Drung Jabing, for maybe more than ten years. And his son at that time was a regimental tank commander. But one of the things they failed to realize was that the terrain, in north Vietnam, was not suitable for the use of tanks. I mean Americans learned that in Vietnam, but the Chinese simply refused to learn anything from the American experience in Vietnam. Stupid. And so they did commit the tanks to battle, battalions and regiments, to the battle, early, and they were not a big help. A single Vietnamese female sniper, in one well-documented case, took out seven tanks, one by one. I mean that is one of the silly and tragic things that happened to the tank regiments. Because, sometimes they were ordered, for example, to cross over a bridge. They didn't calculate, they didn't wait. They were in a hurry. The never calculated the loading of the bridge, the capacity. They simply assumed, stupidly, that a bridge would support the weight of a tank. And so when the tanks were crossing the bridge, it collapsed, and the tanks fell into a river, and several of them fell together. The Vietnamese knew that if there is a heavy weight vehicle that will try to cross the bridge, there is a requirement that only a single vehicle be on the bridge at the same time. Apparently the Chinese thought the Vietnamese were great engineers, but actually the bridge collapsed and the tanks fell into the river. And sometimes, there was a hill that was steep, but still the tank commanders ordered the tanks to climb up the hills, yet it was too steep, and the tanks turned over and tumbled backward on their top. And yet still the commanders ordered the tanks up, assuming it was the problem of the driver of the first tank, not a problem of the commander. And the same thing happened to a half dozen other tanks. The commander of that unit was arrested and tried later on. There were many courts martial because of the Vietnam war, even right in the field. Later on news from these courts martial was circulated but only within the military. And a lot of problems became apparent. It was never circulated in the public.
The manpower losses were considered great but not significant, ironic. Both in terms of personnel and in supplies. The biggest loss, naturally, was the loss of prestige, the weaknesses of the PLA was exposed, in terms of discipline and disobedience. Disobedience was made most apparent at a junction road running into Lang Son, where there was an intersection of mountain roads. Because roads at the time were critical to the movement of the troops, while this army and that army came to the intersection at the same time, nobody listened to anybody else, and they ;literally started to fight for the damned road. But at that time, the Chinese army did not have ranks and didn't have insignia on their uniforms. So we had problems with that right away. On one occasion, the army commander, of the 41st corps, of the PLA army, he himself was on the spot, standing at the middle of a road junction, just like General Patton did, directing all his forces. He thought he could do that, but there were immediately young officers from another army fighting him for the right of way in the road. And they shouted, "What the fuck are you doing? Who are you to think you can direct all the forces here." And he said, "I am the corps commander." This was later on published. And the officer replied, "How can we know that you are the corps commander. " They couldn't believe that the corps commander was standing there in person directing the forces. And he shouted back, "If you are the army commander, then I am the general commander in chief." So later on, his bodyguards were in the rear and they came running up and a fight broke out, with fists, fighting severely. It was raining and it was muddy, and everyone was lying in the road, fighting. Until, finally, another senior officer from the army recognized this guy and said that indeed he was the Army commander. This is a true story. And then the fighting stopped. And of course he had the authority to command the movement of the forces. And it turned out to be a success. But this story was immediately repeated to Mr. Deng, and this was one of the things that finally made up his mind that the Chinese army needed to adopt the rank system again. So within two years we had ranks again and insignia. They realized besides, some of the artillery personnel, because they could never identify themselves. They could not follow the mainstream of their troops. Some of them realized besides, when the artillery personnel, they could never identify themselves, for reasons they could not follow the mainstream of the troops, they were left behind because they slept overtime, and when they got up they found that the troops were gone. And so they had to catch up with them, but all the artillery corps was heavily guarded because security was high. If you did not belong to the unit, you could never get in. So these guys, perhaps two days later caught up with their troops but they were not allowed to get into it. They said they belonged to our troops, but they had a problem with identification, in the Chinese army we didn't have that sort of identification. All you could do was say the units you belonged to. In Korea they had no ranks, they only had a badge, with China People's Volunteer on it. And it was a problem there, you could usually identify a commander by his looks, by the way he was accompanied, by the way he dressed.
Problems with friendly fire. A lot of artillery shells rained on our own forces in Vietnam. Because we always had a ranging problem. The men in the field, to tell the location of the targets was either not accurate or there was no forward observer at all. So sometimes the artillery fired randomly, actually. And that was a problem. Another was the logistical support supply. Because the Chinese always though they were in the rear. But, any real disasters from friendly fire? Occasionally the Chinese would have a few companies come under friendly fire, and they called on their radios for it to stop, and finally it stopped. But this never constituted a really serious problem. What was the real problem was ill or the lack of coordination among the field commanders. Because sometimes, well, in the first place, China may have committed just too many troops. We didn't need that many in fighting against the Vietnamese. I don't know what American military commanders learned in fighting against the Vietnamese, but fighting against the Vietnamese really requires more expertise than the number of personnel committed to combat on the ground. And another thing we learned is that the Vietnamese, one of the things fantastic about this war was that the Chinese air force never ever committed itself to battle. Yes, they sometimes were afraid of the very strong Sam Missiles on the Vietnamese side, and a lot of those were acquired from the Russians and they were pretty accurate. They could actually hit and kill B52s. And so there was a great concern for this. So the air force was not committed. And secondly, we thought we could do it without air power. So when the war came, because of the lack of communication and coordination among local forces, sometimes they were finding that there were, for example, tow entire divisions fighting for a small town at the same time. There was not even enough space to commit one regiment, and yet they crowded in two divisions. And many troops were lined up with nothing to do because there was nothing for them to do at that time. There were no helicopters for the commanders to stay in touch with the various units. And so nobody was sure how large the enemy forces were. And sometimes when there were no Vietnamese, as in Liang San(Lang San), virtually there was no Vietnamese resistance, but Chinese thought, because of ill intelligence work, China thought there was a strong post of Vietnamese defenders thee in the town, so they committed hundreds of thousands of shells overnight. It rained artillery on Lang San for 18 hours. And then they invaded. They eliminated everything on the ground, and later on they bombed the underground.
There were some counterattacks. There are stories of these, of course, like the Chinese battalion holding some of the mountain tops. Strategically important, though, to the Vietnamese too. And so they reorganized their troops and tried to retake the hills. Like what happened Shangan Ling, what you called Porkchop Hill in Korea. There was this fierce battle, this jigsaw struggle for a time. And so there was severe fighting, but the Vietnamese were basically on the defense, and they were retreating. What fought more fiercely were the local forces, the paramilitary forces. So the Chinese had a lot of problems with these individuals. Sometimes we had a lot of problems in getting the Vietnamese out of underground tunnels and caves. and later on they learned from the American experience, and simply through whatever they had into the tunnels and killed everyone there -- flamethrowers and grenades fired directly into the tunnels. And sometimes, the Chinese became very angry, when they became enraged, believe me, they did everything. They did everything. It is stupid to speak of any military doctrine or military rules in combat like this. They were totally ignoring any so-called rules of war. For example, they had with them, anti-air very powerful large caliber guns, sometimes 37 mm guns, very q1uickly firing guns, and they used these against the Vietnamese on the ground, because they thought that in fighting against the Vietnamese they had to commit everything. While the military doctrine tells them that this is purely for anti-air purposes and nothing else, still, they just leveled the barrel and shot at targets on the ground. And of course this was very powerful, too powerful. Migs never took over during the war, took off. They didn't dare. The circulated in the air, but only on the Chinese side, a little bit over Vietnam and over Hanoi, but not too much. They wanted to impress the Vietnamese that they had air superiority. So the Mig 21s were constantly flying around the clock, but there was no bombing. This was just to scare off Vietnamese fighters. And this worked. No Vietnamese helicopters or fighters took off during the war. But the Vietnamese were concentrating their forces to defend Hanoi. Because they knew that the Chinese could take Hanoi. They knew that from their military instincts. Hanoi was, my God, was in terror. If the Chinese wanted to, they could have, in a matter of hours. It was like the war against India in 1962, while having total military victory, the Chinese withdrew unilaterally. China did that. Unprecedented. And that is why the Americans and the western world came to the conclusion that the Chinese nationality was the most non-economical people in the world. How so? You've heard of Jin He, the famous expeditions into the South Indian Ocean, a maritime hero of China, who was born in 15th century, before Columbus. He commanded a large fleet and for seven times he sailed toward Sri Lanka and toward Africa and India and all the Southeast Countries. And the Indian Ocean nations. He sailed all over. All he wanted to do, since China looked down on the people of those regions, and thought they were the center of the Earth, and so all they did was want to impress these people. they never used force to open trade, all they did was to ask the local men and warlords to pay tribute, Zheng Ho, is the famous Admiral, the man who captured Taiwan. And now in Fujian province, there is a huge memorial hall for his deeds, today. But Western historians concluded that if China were able to use those seven trips for economic expansion purposes, China would be much stronger today. And could have exerted its influence much further than it does today. And second in the war against India, for political purposes, China captured all the lands south of Tibet, and they were fertile and all cultivatable and China just gave them up, and all we wanted was to exert political influence on the outside world. We wanted nothing more than that. At that time Nehru of India was very frightened and believed China would penetrate deeply. The 4th Corps and the 33rd Corps, the army group, the bulk of the force, defending the southeast of India, just wiped them out in a couple of days and achieved complete military victory in a few days. And still China, all of a sudden, overnight, withdrew. The Indians could not believe that. And look at the Korean war. It was fought solely for political purposes. No economic gains. And indeed China suffered a lot from that war. We were so in debt to the Soviets and China suffered a lot from that war. China was heavily in debt to the Soviets after that time. China had to pay the Soviets, and so China suffered, the whole country fastened their belts for three years.
China was defending its borders and that was strategic purposes. But the west believed that the Chinese could be the least economically conscious people on earth. After Vietnam there was no disillusionment with the PLA. What is interesting is that is exactly what Mr. Deng wanted, by having his war in the firs place. He knew that the Chinese military for many years had no chance to fight a battle and they needed one. Fighting against the Viets and committing our forces to battle really suited Chinese purposes at that time. You know why, making it a war, because after the war, a lot of problems were exposed, and China never elaborated on the military victory or success, Success is always something westerners and Vietnamese talk about. Not the Chinese. What we came home to study was the problems we had during the war. When the war was over, many of the reconnaissance men were sent to the military schools to study and we spoke to them. I was there and spoke with them, and they were on the battlefield, and they were encouraged to report all that they witnessed, thee weak points of the military. The Chinese military was very smart on that. Everyone was talking about the lessons we learned. In what way we need to improve ourselves. So Mr. Deng gained a victory more than the battle against the Vietnamese themselves. It was sort of one stone and killing two birds. The second bird was bigger. That was the one that Deng was looking for. He could just go to the Central Military Commission and say, Look, this is what the war taught us. The Chinese military is not prepared for fighting a major war. Still, this war is against just the Vietnamese. What in the world will happen if the Soviets invade us from the North. That will be a war much larger in scale and significance. And then he said, "Do you think now that we are prepared for that. " And he went on to say that what we need to do is to beef up the national defense by spending more and by all measures, including the spending of foreign currency and getting it from the Western world. So 1979 was a turning point for the national defense of China. And priority was given to the air force and the navy and the second artillery corps. The second artillery corps is the Chinese strategic arm. It looks after the strategic missiles aimed at the Soviet Union. This is an independent force parallel to the air force and the navy. Modernization of the military(Gun ban shin din hua) modernization of the national defense. These people are talking about the four modernizations in China, right. But while the modernization for national defense always ranked fourth. Industry was one, then agriculture, and then science and technology and the fourth was always National Defense. That was 1978 when China started its economic reform. Mr. Deng kept repeatedly telling the military men that they needed to wait patiently, and this was the term that we heard constantly, "wait patiently." And so what he implied was that the entire country was not in good condition and could not give them all the money they needed. And so he said, "Support yourself, and do not expect too much from the government, since we have huge deficits." So the military was forced to find other sources of revenue, including the selling of arms. The war against the Vietnamese prompted the Kunming military region to open its trade with people from the Golden Triangle, because the Kunming military region was the principle one in fighting against the Vietnamese during the war. In other words, they committed more personnel, they committed and provided more logistical supplies than anyone else, even though there was supposed to be a centralized command, but still centralized command, depending on where you are, has a different emphasis. Right. it was singled out to manage all the logistical supplies. And what is funny is that later on the general logistical department of the PLA refused to refund them. You know, because they couldn't, in the first place. And in the second place, they said, well, the war was fought in your military region, and of course, it is your responsibility to look after all the military supplies, including even cigarettes. And so the Kunming military region in comparison with the other major military regions, like the Beijing military region and Shenyang military region, they were always having a priority in national defense because they wren defending Beijing against the Russians from the North. Lanzhou military region was also organized against the Russians. There are eight military regions, like the Fuzhou military region takes after the defense against Taiwan. So each region has its priorities. Except, Kunming. Because in the past, Vietnam was not regarded as an enemy, until 1979. So, they were not happy. So they were forced, and secondly, they did not have a coast. And that means they were limited in their trade or access. They had begun befriending the KMT in the Golden Triangle. And they had to cooperate and coordinate with other military regions in sending their products overseas.
So, this is the background for the Kunming Military Region getting contact with the local KMT generals, and also...at that time, the Kunming military region took a long time before they made up their mind, because the local KMT general in the Golden Triangle, they had the support of the CIA and they had the support of the intelligence services of Taiwan also. But the efforts of the CIA to get the KMT to invade China, that was not significant and China just felled them with one blow and then it was finished. After that, they never cherished the ambition of conquering the mainland, like those guys on Taiwan Island, although it was still one of their slogans, everyone knows that it is unrealistic, right. So, but what is so funny is that I knew that when the Kunming military region began building their contact with the KMT and the Nationalist Forces in the Golden Triangle, what they discovered was that a lot of officers were unhappy with the CIA, with the intelligence and support from the KMT on the island. Why? Because the only reason why the CIA supported the KMT in the Golden Triangle was for anti-communist purposes only. And that means that they were used, they were pawns. And they objected to that. And the national forces, in the Golden Triangle, were not the only forces in the Golden Triangle operating by producing opium.
The Karens were actually the Communist force there, supported either by the Vietnamese government and by the Burmese government and in the earlier stage they were supported by the Chinese, because they thought that China at that time was still supplying arms to the local resistance groups against the Burma government, which is no longer the story today.
1978 was the shifting point of Chinese foreign policy. Chinese suspended its military support at that time, to all the resistance groups in Indochina and the Southeast nations. They began then building their relations with the official governments. They were pretty successful in that. Look at Burma today. The military regime was solely backed up by China. So once the CIA started supporting other groups in the Golden Triangle, like Kun Sa, they had the support of the CIA too and the Generals felt unhappy. They thought they had been sold out.
All I knew was that the CIA never supported them any more in full strength. In other words, KMT officers in the area were not the only target for the CIA support. So they felt they were not getting enough support from outside. Still, they bore all the burden of fighting for their own survival. They needed ammunition, medical supplies, communication equipment. And all of these could not be provided by the KMT from Taiwan, they were too far away. And there were not airfields in the region and it was impossible for them to rely too heavily on outside support. And so at this critical stage the Kunming military region opened contact with those guys. They negotiated, they provided very nice social welfare and housing facilities to the relatives left over by these officers on the mainland, and some officers were encouraged so much to pay a visit, to their homeland, and they did this, finally, and found that there were no consequences and no dangers. Nothing happened to them. They were virtually welcome home again. Whatever they asked for was given to them, and they were satisfied at every turn. Of course, the Yunnan commander had business in mind. That is why China established a lot of opium refineries and laboratories and facilities.
I know of one General, Mr. Liu, he was the general, the Bao Shan military district, and he was involved. But I guess he was not the only Liu. Actually, his son was in the battle against the Vietnamese in 1979, and his son was cited for the battle, decorated, because there was minefield they had to cross, and because all of the troops were in a hurry to cross the field, they didn't have the kind of mine detection facility with them, so this guy just rolled himself over the field, over all the mines, making them explode after him, because he rolled quickly. And he did this across the field until he got to the last mine, which virtually blew off his two legs. My God, he was a hero. His name was Liu, a very junior officers, but he was in the reconnaissance corps, and he was in charge of paving the way for the advance of his troops, and he sacrificed his legs and his troops then marched on and advanced. He is still alive today. But he lost the two legs. Actually, my brother in law interviewed him after the war, when I was in Nanjing, my brother in law in 1981 was on the spot with the filming team from the army studio, and he still there today. Actually a lot of stories he told me personally.
They, the Kunming military region established very solid contacts and cooperation with the KMT in the region, and they told them, frankly, "We no longer regard ideological differences as a line dividing friends and enemies. All we would like to do is to generate some profits. We are all Chinese, after all." And the KMT there bought that. And they, because they, although they had their own refinery facilities, but that was all in the mountains and in the jungles. All very primitive. And they did not have a lot of things. But still they managed to refine. But what you refine could not be very pure, if you really want to make the opium that is inject able, which evaporates very quickly, then you must make it very pure. And the Chinese could be able to do that. And actually, some medical personnel were called from the Kunming People's General Hospital in Kunming Province, and they were called upon to facilitate this processing, since they knew this technique. And besides, once you have the equipment, refining opium is a simple business. It is not something very complicated, but still you need all the things for it. But once you have all the things needed, it is only then a question of time, and it is then a question of how many pounds of opium you can acquire. Opium was one of the things that the PLA grew on its plantations at that time. But still the army figured out that the opium that output was not so great as that in the Golden Triangle, certainly, the quality was not as excellent as that from the Golden Triangle, and so in order to get a huge profit they needed to coordinate with the KMT officers. They used the Mekong River. They said, all right, we are going to provide you with whatever you need from the military region. We can provide medical supplies. Hospital facilities, emergency aid and logistical supplies, such as Chinese military rations, in cans, these just poured into the local KMT storehouses.
Thee were not objections to what was going on because not many people knew that. All that they viewed from the public said that these are the medical research facilities either for medical purposes or for tobacco production. No one knew the nature of the business Nobody bothered. Once it belongs to the army and is classified under the PLA, not many people bother to know what they are doing. It is nobody's business. Because they belong to the military and whatever belongs to the military is good in nature. So the once the Chinese are able.
The local army officers, they invited the KMT general or officers, from the 3rd or 5th army, that was the army operating in the Golden Triangle. And they asked them to come up and see for themselves the facilities that we have. And, my God, those officers were stunned by what they saw. They never dreamed that communist china could have these facilities. They never imagined this before. These things, they thought the communists were kind of silly, peasant, army. They never knew that the communists were never possible to process and put together the facilities and grow and then to process opium. Heroin. So the Chinese showed what they had learned and how they processed it. One hundred percent pure. They became convinced that the Chinese could do an excellent job. And so they came to an agreement. They said, We will supply you and you process for us. And then the process product you ship back to us, and we pay you for it, right. And you keep the rest for your own purposes. They never questioned where the opium was to go. And it was from this point on that the Kunming military region started making a profit. Once they accumulated enough they started contacting people from Hong Kong and Macau and Taiwan. Once you have this product, you do not have to worry about finding demand. Demand is already there, everywhere. It is only a problem of getting the supply to the demand.
My brother was involved on different occasions just in driving a truck He told me, he was there.
The Italian deal. The end result of the story. The torpedo business, the Chinese navy spent a lot of time trying to acquire foreign advanced technology, like the Mark 46 torpedo of the US Navy. Now you have Mark 50, a thermal powered which is really advanced.
Torpedoes are divided into different kinds. The most primitive kind is the type the British used in the Falklands war against the Argentineans. The cruiser that belonged to the Argentina was the General Belgrano, or something, that was sunk by two torpedoes, what we call gas torpedoes. That means that they were really primitive. That means that they were run on steam. Steam was the power. Once you have the generator running to generate steam, steam drives the propeller. This kind of torpedo does not explode unless it hits metal. And so it is regarded as primitive.
Then we have the closed loop torpedo. That means that like once you generate the steam and you exhaust a lot of things on the old torpedo. And once you exhaust materials. It is like a submarine that surfaces to run the diesel engines and to charge the batteries. Once its batteries are charges it is able to submerge. Otherwise it cannot. In the process of doing so it generates a lot of steam. And it is as if you throw a match into the water, you see the smoke. The closed loop torpedo means that once you are in the water and turn the motor on, it only generates steam, and all the steam generated circulates internally to reproduce energy. It is high advanced technology. That means it leaves no trace in the water. You see torpedoes propel itself under water and it leaves a huge trace underwater, and that was once a way to identify an incoming torpedo coming in and to shoot it, if you could. But once it is a closed loop torpedo, like the Mark 46 you cannot see traces, and secondly, it runs pretty fast Like 40 knots per hour. Thirdly, it is quiet and does not generate a lot of noise.
So China had been looking for many years to advance its own technology. Actually, the Chinese were able to advance their own -- it was probably due to the 1979 war against the Vietnamese -- the US task force approached the Paracel Islands, and for some reason, one of the submarines in that task force fired two torpedoes. An American submarines. By mistake perhaps. But they were torpedoes. And they were fired and they beached themselves on the Paracels. And the people on the Paracels were able to pick them up several days later. They didn't know where the torpedoes came from, they said. But quite obviously they were fired from a US warship, a submarine or a surface vessel. They were armed, everything. Everything was intact. But the US Navy, I guess, didn't know they were found, maybe. And maybe never reported also that they were missing. So we were able to pick up the torpedoes and closely examine them, and later on we were able to reproduce a copy of them, which was very close to the performance of the Mark 46. But still mass production was a problem, reverse engineering. Now later on the US Navy sold China Mark 46 torpedoes, that would be about 1987. They sold us two at that time. But still it was not enough. What the Chinese submarine fleet was looking for was a wire-guided heavy torpedo to be used against surface vessels. A heavy weight torpedo means that it is like eight meters long, and large in diameter and it is heavy weight. Looks more gigantic, and with a larger payload to sink ships. And longer and larger. The ideal selections would be the A184, wire guided heavyweight torpedo, produced by the Whitehead Company situated in Livorno of Italy. And I've been there, so that's it.
A girl from Thailand served as a very successful middleman in these negotiations. She has very nice Chinese name. We call her is Ma Ling, but I do not know here Thai name. She spends most of her time in Beijing at the Xiyuan Hotel. She is very beautiful, very. And very nice and charming, too. And she is well educated, speaks beautiful Thai, Italian, English and perfect standard Mandarin Chinese. She came from a very wealthy and well situated Chinese family in Bangkok. Her mother and father are very influential people in Thai politics. And actually she took up the arms trade business for fun, because she married an Italian millionaire who used to serve in the Italian Army, and later on he retired. And he joined then the Selenia Elsatue group. I constantly dealt with this group. It is the most powerful defense related industrial group in Italy. I cannot recall his name. Her husband died and then she had close contacts in the trade, and she began working with it. She was very good terms with the general manager of the Whitehead Company, Pittossi, Mr. Pittossi, he was the general manager of the White Head Company. And probably Ma Ling was his mistress. Although Ma Ling was over 36 years old, she looks incredibly young and beautiful and she carries herself well, she looks well educated. And she is always attired in the very latest Italian fashions. Everyone was impressed by her. In wearing jewelry she was very modest, but always in a fashionable way. She had long uncurled black hair, sometimes, covering half of her face, just shoulder length, and sometimes she put both hands in her jacket and stood like a model.
In Beijing she was also well connected and had a lot of friends in the national defense ministry of Beijing.
Actually, a young guy, very handsome, Yu Yung, from my office, very handsome, he was with my group to visit Italy for the first time in December, 9185, and both Ma Ling and I and Mr. Yung were on the trip. Yung was handsome young guy, according to Chinese standards, tall and spoke Excellent English. He fell in love with this woman, but she still kept her distance from him. So, she served as a strong connection between the Chinese defense circles with the Italian defense circles, and she was very influential riddle. Incredibly beautiful and always attracted a lot of attention. People thought she was a film star. Whenever there was a lag banquet, she was always closely surrounded by men from foreign countries or from the Chinese government, because she was well connected, and she served as the facilitator and the go-between. Every time the Italian company, Silaneio Elsat group came to Beijing, then it was required absolutely that she be present, that was an absolutely requirement, because she checked all the mistakes in the translations. She did not personally translate, but she checked for errors, and she was not familiar with technical terms, but in standard translation she was a superb translator. Very beautiful woman. Actually, Mr. Pittossi has been after her for many years, he was single too. I don't know what the actually relationship between those two was, but they were constantly hand and hand, came out of hotels and were constantly with each other. Yet she told us that they were not intimately involved, that she did not sleep with him. But they were on very good friendship terms. It seemed very complicated to us, but this woman served an important bridge between the Italian defense circles and my company. And Poly would then initially contact her if there was a need and there usually was such a need. So she personally generated huge profits for the Italian defense firm. Because she paid a lot of contributions for the connections for the two countries and a lot of contracts were signed. And because of her contributions, we the Chinese navy signed big contracts with the Whitehead organization. We still signed contacts with the air launch torpedoes, A244, lighter in weight, smaller in scale, and is suitable for air launch purposes, and that means it is suitable for fixed wing anti-submarine aircraft or for helicopters to launch the torpedoes into the water against submarines. Against submarines, air launched. So now, A244 torpedoes were equipped in the Chinese Navy. I mean in doing so I am telling you a top secret. So, the Chinese Navy, widely equipped with this sort of thing, this is advanced technology too, closed loop torpedoes. This is closed loop and now the Chinese fixed wing aircraft in the Navy and the helicopters are all equipped with these. The contract was signed in 1988 and it was delivered in 1989 and was deployed ever since. They did get the contract, but the Italians really pushed hard on the A 184 torpedoes. Actually, at that time, in 1986, the Chinese Navy almost made up its mind to buy A184 wire guided torpedoes. Wire guided torpedoes, normally those that are not wire guided, they have problems. They must run on their own batteries and that means they cannot run for a long time. Besides, once the torpedo is launched you cannot change its course since everything is preset,., The target information is all preset, you cannot change the course after launch. Then they have an automatic homing head, which they can turn on automatically once they are within range of the target, as in Hunt for the Red October. but you have to get it within range to turn on the automatic homing head otherwise it won't work. But with wire guided torpedo you can constantly transmit signals through the wire to the torpedo, even when it is running pretty fast. Once you have line connecting you to the home base, everything is changeable. And the home base could be a ship, or a submarine. So this is a heavyweight torpedo, very useful against surface targets, and to kill a surface target you need heavy torpedo, so this is one of the things ideal for the Chinese navy. In the end, each of these cost $90 million package deal for 10 torpedoes.
Ships can maneuver fast, but you can launch the torpedo when you are not totally prepared, and then you can control it in the water without presetting everything. You launch it into the water and then you set it. The range of the torpedo is pretty far since they are wire guided, the range is around 30 miles. The wire from the ship to the torpedo. The glue used to connect the wire is a special processed silicon, and this is a technique couldn't duplicate, because you cannot glue the wire too strongly, nor too loosely. If it is too strongly, once the wire is in the water, going with the torpedo, then the dispensing system is a problem because if it is too strong the wire breaks. But if it is too loose that is a problem, then there are other problems that occur. And so this is a silicon binder that holds the wire to the torpedo, what you see in the launching unit is very big. Some technicians spend an entire month wiring up a torpedo. Each day winding only two circles, eight hours per day. I mean can you imagine that. Days just wiring that up. Doing nothing else. That is why it is expensive to buy. The wire is on a coil, a huge coil like a fishing reel, round. So because it costs 90 million, at the end of 1986, the only budget left for the Chinese navy was around $100 million US. But because the admiral in the Chinese navy, because of their good relationship with Aerospatiale, and this time with Thompson CSF, so at that time the Navy needed two things. One is the ship born anti-air system and the French tried to push us to buy the Sea Crotale system(a sidewinder), a ship borne anti air system. It is six missiles on it on the launcher. Effective against air targets, incoming aircraft. This cost 90 million too, but because of the good connections of the Chinese admiral with the French, there was a hot debate going on, for if it is the navy priority to spend 90 million either on the torpedo or on the ship born anti-air system, there is a sharp disagreement among the admirals themselves. The admirals who were bribed, they strongly favored the French. They said, all right, we are not in a hurry to import torpedoes. While, he forgot the fact that the well known fact that most of the Chinese submarines, their big launching tubes were virtually empty. Because at that time the Chinese navy was phasing out the old torpedoes, while the advanced torpedoes were already in the production phase, the Mark 46, but they were not available yet. So at this time, if the Chinese navy spent this money to import A184 torpedoes they could put them on Chinese submarines and that would be the solution. But because the admiral made a mistake --no not a mistake, but rather for personal consideration and reasons, they favored the French. For obvious reason. As for what reasons. I don't know. They made a decision. Some of the admirals which favored the A184 torpedo from Italian friends, they said, what a pity for the navy. The submarine fleet is finished. They said that, in so many words. They said that to us. So the French got the deal. And we spend $90 million with the French in 1987 to buy the Sea Crotale system. Why were they phasing out the old torpedoes and sending out subs with empty tubes. Why not leave in the outdated ones. Because this was standard procedure for the navy, once you decide to phase out something, you take out everything immediately, and standby and wait for the new ones to come. You can add new stories to the bulk of this story. this is the basic fact, this is what happened because the admirals were bribed and they favored the French. And so at that time, the US navy was looking for A184 torpedoes too because it cost lost than torpedoes produced in the US, and besides the US didn't have the equivalent of heavyweight torpedoes, wire guided. So the US Navy put in the bid saying that they were looking for heavyweight torpedoes, for mass production purposes. So A184 got the deal. And A184 torpedoes, actually, the Whitehead supplied the Navy of the US with 8 torpedoes in 1988, and the US Navy had the torpedoes tested in one of your testing grounds in the Pacific near Hawaii and they produced the testing results saying that we are very satisfied by the torpedoes. This was relayed back to the Whitehead Company, and General Pittossi Himself said to me, personally, the general manager of Whitehead, said, See this is the testing report of the US Navy, and he wanted to convince us absolutely that this is really an advanced torpedo and you need to buy this. And we said, "Of course we need to buy that. We know that. But we don't have the money and the authority to buy it now." So once Mr. Pittossi heard the news that the Navy had signed a $90 million contract with the French to buy the Seat Crotales, he was heartbroken, really. He had spent a lot of time in China in Beijing, and actually our company on a couple of occasions, took him to visit the Great Wall and the Summer Palace, and we tried to be very nice to him and comfort him however we could. But finally he just left heartbroken. And so was Miss Ma Ling, of course. She said, "My God, we put in such efforts, including the expensive trip to Italy, and they showed us everything including the processing technique. they even showed us the chips in the torpedoes, they never show those to foreigners, but they showed them to us, the raw chip, taken from the body of the torpedo, which is obviously not standard procedure for a buyer. They manufactured the torpedo in different places, there is a factory, was responsible for the fire control system, the target designation and firing routes, the firing system was designed in Sepa Company, located in Torino in Northern Italy, close to Milano. And the general manager was Mr. Baroccerni, and was nice to us and showed us many things. Because I was with the fire control group. The next year the report didn't come through, it was stagnated. And the next year, Chinese were producing for themselves, but still like the Mark 46 they are not very advanced, they are not genuine copies, they are copies, but not so advanced. So it remained a big headache for the Chinese Navy not to get that torpedo. The story itself, why it is significant, and first it is top secret, and another thing, if this really happened, you can imagine how they do business, and thirdly it showed how the Chinese procurement system really worked. This is the best example. And everything was correlated, like the editor to the admiral and what happened later on to his son, and what.
China has more than 100 submarines. Six nuclear submarines. The Chinese, young officers, they dared to voice their opinions, but everyone else stayed put because they knew they could not change the system. They used just what they were given. And they knew of course what was advanced and what wasn't because some of the submarine commanders themselves were involved in the foreign negotiations, and they were shown the slides of A184 torpedoes and they were introduced to the performances of the torpedo and they concluded that this was the best and we wanted to buy it.
The Soviet Union and Taiwan were the enemy at the time and the situation in the South China Sea at the Spratly Islands was critical at the time. This is the area that the PLA navy was concerned with, and Japan, of course, was a potential enemy. And all the plotting tables of the PLA navy, they had foreign discussions about tactics against foreign submarines and from the British and the Americans and Japan was always marked as a target. The Chinese they will never regard Japanese as friends. We know perfectly that although China and Japan meet together it is only for economic reason