Pentagon report reflects concerns over China's increased military

Friday, May 25, 2007

The United States Department of Defense has today released its annual report to the United States Congress called the Military Power of the People's Republic of China, which assesses the military of the People's Republic of China. The report documents a steady increase in China's military budget allowing for increased deployment of resources and technology.

I don't think it [the report] does any arm-waving, I don't think it does any exaggeration of the threat. But it paints a picture of a country that is devoting substantial resources to the military and developing, as I say, some very sophisticated capabilities. We wish that there were greater transparency, that they would talk more about what their intentions are, what their strategies are. It would be nice to hear first hand from the Chinese how they view some of these things.

The report details China's development of five new nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) called Jin-class submarines that will each be outfitted with 12 5,000-mile-range JL-2 missiles, the 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test, vastly improving China's nuclear missile strike capabilities with a new mobile land-based DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the whole United States and a directed deployment of forces that can be used beyond a regional conflict in Taiwan.

If China puts these systems in place effectively on the scale reported in sea-basing and land-basing, it will now have a robust second-strike capability. What was grey before now is becoming clear. China now can effectively fight a nuclear war.

The United States military considers the Chinese build-up a serious threat, with a need for increased preparation in the region.

The U.S. needs to stay well out ahead of any potential adversary so that we are properly prepared, should somebody's intent change, to deal with that threat when it rises.

The previous 2006 years report stated China's build-up focused on the political status of Taiwan. China has said it would attack Taiwan if the self-ruled island, which Beijing views as a renegade province, formally declares independence. Now, after years of significant growth in arms spending, China has the ability to project power beyond Taiwan. President Hu Jintao stated on Wednesday his country must build a more modern armed forces to safeguard their national security.

President Hu Jintao probably does not appreciate the effect on the US that his military leaders' new deployments will have. These Chinese steps only play into the hands of our hardliners and push the US towards worst-case scenarios. The Chinese have an apt proverb: 'Don't pick up a rock and drop it on your own feet.' President Hu needs to cut back this development and head off a cold-war style arms race.
Mike Pillsbury, Pentagon consultant on the Chinese military

In 2005, Chinese General Zhu Chenghu threatened the United States with nuclear weapons. The comment created concerns of a strategic stance change for China's weapon's of mass destruction. Chinese officials later restated the country’s "no first use" policy and have privately played down Zhu’s influence. Some analysts have suggested China's ballistic missiles could be partly in response to US plans to develop a National Missile Defense system.

There was something to the argument that China was simply responding to US nuclear capabilities. The Chinese were more concerned about US stealth capabilities and cruise missiles and that its naval development was driven more by internal political logic. The Chinese have maintained that they have a ‘no first use’ policy [for nuclear weapons] and that they have a minimal deterrent policy, which means they have only enough nuclear capability to retaliate, but open source journals and discussions and their own modernisation suggest that they are possibly developing capabilities for a more flexible use of nuclear weapons, and survivability and tactical uses that would call into question this declared policy.
Michael Green , former senior Asia adviser to President George W. Bush


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