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China Military Build-Up Out Of Keeping With Peaceful Aim

Australian Prime Minister John Howard(L) and US Vice President Dick Cheney(R) hold a joint press conference at the PM's office in Sydney. Cheney wrapped up a week-long visit to Japan and Australia, a mission to reassure two strong allies buffeted by Washington's strategies for Iraq and North Korea. Photo courtesy AFP

China Military Capabilities Worrisome
Washington (AFP) Feb 23 - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed concern Friday over China's developing military capabilities and the ease with which military spending can be hidden from public view. Gates' brief comments in response to reporters questions followed Vice President Dick Cheney's warning in Australia that China's rapid military build-up was "not consistent with China's goal of a peaceful rise."

"There are developments underway with respect to Chinese military capabilities that are a concern," said Gates, without elaborating. In a speech in Sydney, Cheney singled out a recent anti-satellite test in which China used a ballistic missile to destroy one of its own weather satellites in space. A former Soviet analyst and director of the CIA, Gates likened the problem of assessing China's military spending to that of tracking Soviet military spending during the Cold War.

"In the absence of congressional oversight, it's pretty easy for other states to disguise exactly how much they are spending on their military forces. This obviously was a huge problem with the Soviet Union," he said. "My suspicion is that the Chinese are spending more on their military than what will be reflected in the state budget," he said.

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Feb 22, 2007
China's rapid military build-up and anti-satellite test last month are out of keeping with its stated aim of becoming a peaceful world power, US Vice President Dick Cheney warned Friday. Cheney, speaking in Australia, praised Beijing's role in helping seal a crucial nuclear deal with North Korea this month, but warned of Beijing flexing its military muscle.

"China has played an especially important role in the six-party process, because the Chinese understand that a nuclear North Korea would be a threat to their own security," he said.

"Last month's anti-satellite test, and China's continued fast-paced military build-up are less constructive, and are not consistent with China's stated goal of a 'peaceful rise'," he said in a key speech in Sydney.

"We hope China will join us in our efforts to prevent the deployment and proliferation of deadly technologies, whether in Asia or in the Middle East.

"For our part, the United States and Australia have the same hopes for the future of China -- that its people will enjoy greater freedom and prosperity: That its government will be a force for stability and peace in this region."

Cheney was speaking to the Australian American Leadership Dialogue at a Sydney hotel on the final leg of a trip which took him first to Japan.

Describing Prime Minister John Howard as an "old friend" he praised the alliance between Australia and the US.

"In this neighbourhood of the globe, millions look to our countries to promote security, economic progress and democratic ideals," he said.

"Earlier this week in Tokyo Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe and I reaffirmed the commitment of both our nations to the trilateral security structure with Australia.

"The growing closeness among our three countries send an unmissable message that we are united in the cause of peace and freedom across the region."

Cheney said success for the countries and their principles depended on their willingness "to act where action is required".

Source: Agence France-Presse

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