'China threat' again?

China Daily, August 26, 2011

The Pentagon on Wednesday issued its annual report on China's military, titled "Military and Security Development Involving the People's Republic of China".

While stating that the United States welcomes a strong, prosperous, and successful China that reinforces international rules and norms and enhances security and peace both regionally and globally, the report also claimed concerns about Beijing's growing capabilities.

Briefing reporters on the report, Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said, "the pace and scope of China's sustained military investment have allowed China to pursue capabilities that are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances, increase the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation, and may contribute to regional tensions and anxieties."

However, if we look back at the volatile situation in the West Pacific over the past few years, it is not China but the US that has raised regional tensions.

The report alleged that despite the warming of cross-Strait ties, China is steadily expanding its military options for Taiwan.

But a new batch of US arms sales to Taiwan, including the advanced fighter jets the F16 C and F16 D, is reportedly due to be finalized in October despite Beijing's opposition.

By stressing the Pentagon's concern over the PLA's ability to "deter, delay, or deny" US military intervention should it consider it necessary, the report provides an excuse for selling US weapons to Taiwan, which of course are a big boon for the US defense industry and related manufacturers and workers.

The momentum of military contacts between China and the US has picked up with a succession of high-level exchanges this year thanks to joint efforts from both sides after President Hu Jintao's successful state visit to the US in January.

But, as the US is well aware, US arms sales to Taiwan are the most sensitive issue jamming China-US military-to-military contact. Taiwan is China's internal affair.

China is not a threat to peace in Asia, as it will never seek hegemony or military expansion. It has solemnly reiterated on every occasion that it unswervingly adheres to a defense policy that is defensive in nature.

In order to ensure a balance between national defense and economic growth, China has kept its defense expenditure at an appropriate level, with an increase of 12.7 percent to 601 billion yuan ($91.5 billion) in 2011. This is a drop in a bucket compared with the US' defense budget.

The Pentagon is under great pressure to cut its budget over the next decade after US defense spending rose continually over the last 13 years.

Clearly it is in the interests of the Pentagon to claim that China's military capabilities are a threat when it bargains with Congress for another big, fat check.