Pentagon Warns OF Potential Problems With Militarily Strong China

The Pentagon issued fresh warnings Wednesday that China’s military
expansion could stir up new tensions and provoke dangerous
misunderstandings
 
“The pace and scope of China’s sustained
military investment have allowed China to pursue capabilities we believe
are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances, increase
the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation and may contribute to
regional tensions and anxieties,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
for East Asia Michael Schiffer said.
“Such capabilities could
increase Beijing’s options to use military force to gain diplomatic
advantage, advance its interests or resolve military disputes in its
favor.”
The annual survey of defense and security issues
involving China has produced a litany of short-term and ongoing concerns
in recent years. Past reports have focused on increased overall
spending on the military; the enhanced range of ballistic and anti-ship
missiles; the military’s lack of transparency and expanded
power-projection capability; and increased spending on efforts to break
into U.S. military computers.
A consistent theme in the reports
has been the potential threat the Communist nation’s military growth
poses to regional stability and to Taiwan in particular.
  A classified report was presented to Congress and an 83-page version was made public.
U.S.
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, said Congress “will review this assessment in greater detail”
in the coming weeks but noted two things that stood out in the report:
“First,
Beijing’s increasing assertiveness and military capabilities,
particularly China’s ability to deny access to the western Pacific, is
of growing concern not only to the United States but to China’s
neighbors, leading to changes in the military posture of regional
actors,” the California Republican said in a statement. “This has
significant consequences for the security and stability of the region.
“Second,
China clearly believes that it can capitalize on the global financial
crisis, using the United States’ economic uncertainty as a window of
opportunity to strengthen China’s economic, diplomatic, and security
interests,” he said.
“Therefore, security in the Pacific could be
further jeopardized if our regional allies also come to believe that
the United States will sacrifice the presence and capability of the U.S.
military in an attempt to control spending,” McKeon said. “This is an
unacceptable outcome in such a vital region of the globe.”
The
Pentagon report called for new efforts to share military information
with Beijing, and it praised China for international involvement in such
areas as humanitarian and disaster relief and countering pirates.
But
the U.S. continues to voice its concerns about a steady Chinese
military buildup, including testing of a stealth fighter jet, sea trials
of an aircraft carrier it purchased and rebuilt and development of new
capabilities under the seas, in space and online.
“There are very
real questions, given the overall trends and trajectory in the scope
and the scale of China’s military modernization efforts,” Schiffer said
at the Pentagon. “I wouldn’t put it on any one particular platform or
any one particular system.”
He predicted that China would
continue to develop the aircraft carrier it bought from Ukraine in 1998
and its combat capability, as well as build new ships.
“We do
think China is undertaking an effort to build its own indigenous
aircraft carriers,” Schiffer said. “I won’t speculate on the number, but
likely more than one, being developed in the future.”
The report
said China’s economic development and expanding scientific and
technology base “facilitated a comprehensive and ongoing military
modernization program.”
And that larger, newer military could
change China’s role. “China’s modernized military could be put to use in
ways that increase China’s ability to gain diplomatic advantage to
resolve disputes in its favor,” the report said.
U.S. support for
Taiwan continues to be a source of tension between the U.S. and China.
“Beijing is developing capabilities intended to deter, delay or deny
possible U.S. support for the island in the event of conflict,” the
report said. “The balance of cross-(Taiwan) Strait military forces and
capabilities continues to shift in the Mainland’s favor.”

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