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Pentagon Report Singles Out China As Potential Military Rival

"Of the major and emerging powers, China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that over time offset traditional US military advantages absent US counter strategies," the report said.
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (AFP) Feb 03, 2006
A major review of US military strategy Friday singled out China as the country with the greatest potential to challenge the United States militarily.

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) rated Russia as a "country in transition" that is unlikely to pose a military threat on the scale of the Soviet Union, and said India is emerging as "a great power and a key strategic partner."

The review, which is conducted every four years, said a key goal for the US military in the coming years will be to "shape the choices of countries at a strategic crossroads."

The QDR report noted China's steady but secretive military buildup since 1996.

"Of the major and emerging powers, China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that over time offset traditional US military advantages absent US counter strategies," the report said.

The pace and scope of China's military buildup already puts regional military balances at risk, it said.

It listed an array of high end military capabilities that China is investing in.

They include electronic and cyberwarfare, counter-space operations, ballistic and cruise missiles, advanced integrated air defense systems, next generation torpedoes, advanced submarines, land and sea-base strategic nuclear missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

"These capabilities, the vast distances of the Asian theater, China's continental depth, and the challenge of en route and in-theater US basing place a premium on forces capable of sustained operations at great distances into denied area," the report said.

It said US policy aims at encouraging China to choose a path of peaceful economic growth and political liberalization, rather than military threat or intimidation.

But, it said, "The outside world has little knowledge of Chinese motivations and decision-making or of key capabilities supporting its military modernization."

"The United States encourages China to take actions to make its intentions clear and clarify its military plans."

Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said the United States wanted to be a partner in China's peaceful rise, but have the means to dissuade it from taking an adversarial path.

"We think China should have a military capability sufficient to meet its genuine security needs," he told reporters. He indicated those should be regional in scope.

The report also flags US worries about Russia, citing the erosion of democracy there and restrictions on non-governmental organizations and press freedoms.

"Internationally, the United States welcomes Russia as a constructive partner but views with increasing concern its sales of disruptive weapons technologies abroad and actions that compromise the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of other states," it said.

In the case of India, the report foresaw "continued and increased strategic cooperation."

Source: Agence France-Presse

related report

US Says Risk Of War With China Diminishing
by Charles Whelan Seoul (AFP) Feb 03 - The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said here Friday that the risk of war with China was diminishing with the growth of economic ties between the emerging superpower and the United States.

Despite concern over Beijing's rapid and secret military build-up and tension in the Taiwan Strait, General Peter Pace said Washington and Beijing had more shared interests than differences.

"I am optimistic about the future with regard to China. There is much more that the two countries have in common than we have not in common," said Pace, the top military advisor to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"As we continue to build the economic bridges between the two countries and as each country becomes more and more dependent on the other for prosperity, when you do that you lessen significantly any probability of military complications," he said.

A Pentagon report last year estimated China's defense spending at two to three times greater than acknowledged by Beijing, or up to 90 billion dollars for the year.

Last month Japan identified China as a military threat because of its opaque military spending.

Pace, a Marine Corps officer who took over as chairman of the joint chiefs last year, said it was the military's job to identify the capabilities it would need for future events.

"You do not focus on countries but on potential capabilities that you will need, and then build to that," he said.

He said that on North Korea, Washington needed to look at the communist country's fighting capabilities which included an army of 1.2 million troops and "be prepared to counter that overwhelmingly."

He said a transformation of the US-South Korea alliance was in progress, including reducing US forces in South Korea from 37,000 to 25,000 by 2008 and withdrawing them from the border with North Korea to bases south of Seoul.

He said it was hard to be certain of North Korea's intent, but "you need to be prepared if their intent is ill."

"We are fully capable today of defeating any North Korean aggression and we will maintain that capacity," he said.

Pace said that Pentagon's Quadrennial Report, to be released next week, will assess US military needs over the next 20 years.

"It will be a lookout, as best you can look out, 20 years into the future," he said.

South Korea's move to regain wartime control over its troops, which now would come under the operational control of the commander of US forces here in times of conflict, was welcome, he said.

"This is an opportunity, not a challenge," he said of talks scheduled for this year.

Pace was visiting Seoul for a change of command at the US military base here.

Outgoing commander General Leon LaPorte was replaced by General B.B. Bell as new head of US Forces in Korea and head of the combined US-South Korean command.

He also leads the UN Command, representing the 16 nations that fought against the communist North in the 1950-53 Korean War.

General Bell, taking command of the 30,000 US troops currently deployed in South Korea, said his top priority would be to help keep the peace on the Korean peninsula and to maintain the US-South Korea alliance, "the strongest and most successful alliance in the world."

South Korean Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-Ung, in a speech at the handover ceremony, thanked LaPorte for his leadership over the past four years during a "complex security situation" that included the war in Iraq and the North Korean nuclear standoff.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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