CIA issues warning on China's military efforts
The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency changed the tone of his predecessors in the annual assessment about China on Wednesday, warning China's military modernisation is tilting the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait and increasing the threat to US forces in the region.
"China is increasingly confident and active on the international stage," said
Goss, "trying to ensure that it has a voice on international issues and secure
access to natural resources and to counter what it sees as United States'
efforts to contain or encircle it."
But the statement on China indicated the CIA is paying growing attention to what it considers potential military threats amid China's growing economic ties with its neighbours and the US. Mr Goss referred to US concerns over the increase in Chinese ballistic missiles deployment and the improvements in China's nuclear and conventional capabilities.
The change in tone was notable given US concerns over Europe's plan to end its embargo on arms sales to China. Experts on China said that, while warnings about China's military capabilities were not new, the CIA had in the past underscored the co-operation between the US and China.
In testimony last year, George Tenet, former CIA head, praised China for co-operation in the war on terrorism and for its participation in the nuclear talks with North Korea. In 2003, Mr Tenet described US-Taiwan relations as relatively placid and said China was trying to assert its influence through ˇ°economic growth and Chinese integration into the global economyˇ±. James Lilley, a former US ambassador to China, said that, while it was appropriate for the CIA to focus on longer-term threats, the growing economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan were making conflict less likely.
James Steinberg, deputy national security adviser in the Clinton
administration, said: ˇ°It is a little surprising that it didn't say anything
about the enormous emphasis China places on a stable international environment
and constructive relations with the US.ˇ±