Annual Pentagon Report on China’s Military

Admiral Timothy Keating, head of U.S. Pacific Command. Source: CNN

Admiral Timothy Keating, head of U.S. Pacific Command. Source: CNN

 

 

Obama Administration: 

Please don’t neglect China because of too much focus on Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and elsewhere, like, uh, your predecessor did…

 

The Pentagon has been required by law since 2000 to report to Congress annually on China’s military.  This year’s report, along with testimony this week before Congress by Admiral Timothy Keating, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, is reported on by CNN.  The full Pentagon report appears on the DoD web site.

 

It appears that the themes stressed in this year’s report are much the same as last year’s: China’s relentless effort to project military power, including across the Taiwan Straits; its continuing difficulty to establish such a capability; and, the ongoing shift of the Asian balance of power in China’s favor.  This year’s Pentagon report appears to emphasize more the lack of transparency about China’s capabilities and intentions.  The latter was exacerbated when direct U.S.-Chinese military-to-military talks were suspended after Washington announced in November 2008 it was selling weapons to Taiwan.  And, the incident over the US surveillance vessel, the Impeccable, caught nearly a 100 miles offshore China earlier this month, has likewise soured relations between the two great powers.  Admiral Keating told Congress he wanted the dialogue with China to resume.

 

The West has been successful thus far in bringing China into its institutions, evidenced above all by China’s becoming a major player in the global economy.  It would be worthwhile, therefore, for tensions over Taiwan and over the multiple national claims in the South China Sea to be reduced.  While national interests will continue to collide, a reduction of uncertainty about intentions and objectives would serve to reduce the frictions.

 

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