[A-List] US/China rivalry: military tensions
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Tue Jul 16 01:34:39 MDT 2002
Massive Chinese military spending poses challenge to US
The Herald, 15 July 2002
CHINA is modernising its military power at a rate which could challenge US
influence in Asia, overwhelm Taiwan's "rebel" government, and even threaten
Japan and the Philippines, according to a Pentagon study.
In the first assessment since President George W Bush took office, the US
high command says Beijing is pursuing strategies which would enable its
military to exert "coercive" pressure to achieve political aims in the
region. China is spending £45bn - twice the UK defence budget - this year
alone to bridge technological gaps, including ordering eight new ultra-quiet
Russian submarines and modern missile destroyers and fighters.
It is also concentrating resources on "less conventional strategies" such as
using offensive computer viruses to cripple an opponent's
As part of the modernisation, it is replacing its current 20 DF-5
intercontinental missiles, capable of striking targets in the western US
mainland, with 60 longer-range and more accurate weapons. Some will be
deployed on submarines.
It is also massing short-range missiles able to hit Taiwan in the coastal
area opposite the breakaway island republic and increasing its firepower by
50 missiles a year.
Beijing already operates four Russian Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines.
The additional eight on order would enable its navy to blockade the island
and severely hinder any US attempt to prevent an invasion by posing a very
credible threat to American carrier battlegroups.
Chinese military expansion and modernisation could also pose a medium-term
threat to Japan and the Philippines, the two key US allies in the region.
The White House said in April that it plans to sell Taiwan naval
reconnaissance aircraft, missile destroyers and submarines to counter the
Beijing's moves pose a major problem for the Bush administration, which is
heavily committed to operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Recent
approaches had been directed at making China a leading partner in the war
against international terror.
The Chinese leadership has its own radical Islamic guerrilla war against
fundamentalists in the western Xinjiang province. Rebel fighters opposing
Beijing's rule trained in Osama bin Laden's Afghan camps.
Closer links between British and Chinese intelligence services in combating
international terror topped the agenda yesterday as Jack Straw, the UK
foreign secretary, arrived in the Chinese capital at the start of a two-day
China's foreign ministry claimed that the country's military policy was
defensive, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.
"China is a peace-loving country. Its national defence policy is defensive
in nature," Xinhua quoted Kong Quan, a foreign ministry spokesman, as
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