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Friday, December 22, 2000, updated at 18:03(GMT+8)

China's Frontier Defense Going Digital

Through computer networks, generals in Beijing can see clearly what is going on in frontier areas thousands of kilometers away.

Twenty years ago, however, it took a Xinhua reporter four days to go and interview soldiers at a border station in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

At the very beginning of the century, some 20,000 allied forces from eight countries disembarked at the Tianjin port and then forced their way into neighboring Beijing. In 1931, a little more than 10,000 Japanese invading forces launched the "September 18 Incident" in Shenyang that astonished the world.

The invaders were puzzled about China's border defense capacity, and accordingly drew a conclusion that the country could be invaded and bullied.

As a matter of fact, China had a very loose frontier and coast defense during the first half of the century, vulnerable to any invasion by foreign intruders. And Communications were conveyed through horses and mules.

But now, China has built a much stronger frontier defense, which is going rapidly digital as the 20th century draws to an end.

Meanwhile, China has always been cautious in its army building.In 2000, its expenditure on national defense totaled US$14.6 billion, which is 5 percent of the United States' and 30 percent of Japan'.

Over the last two decades, China's national defense has witnessed great improvements, with roads leading to border areas completed, fiber optical networks laid, power stations built, and new border towns mushrooming.

Frontier defense forces have undergone four stages of development: from horse-driven to mechanical, then to electrical, and now to digital, equipped with patrol crafts, helicopters, and electronic warning system.

A computer monitoring and early warning system has also been put into effect in some border areas, enabling border guards to see clearly what's taking place within several kilometers, military sources said.

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Through computer networks, generals in Beijing can see clearly what is going on in frontier areas thousands of kilometers away.

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