WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary
Robert Gates said on Wednesday he did not view China as a strategic adversary of
the United States despite Beijing's growing military budget.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
(L) speaks during a media roundtable with General Peter Pace, Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Pentagon in Washington March 7, 2007.
"I do not see China, at this point, as a strategic adversary of the United
States," he said. "It's a partner in some respects, it's a competitor in other
respects, and so we are simply watching to see what they're doing."
Gates also said: "I think it's very important for us to engage the Chinese on
all facets of our relationship as a way of building mutual confidence."
China said on Sunday it would boost defense spending by 17.8 percent this
year, which follows a 14.7 percent increase in 2006 and is the biggest recorded
rise in the past decade.
But Gates said the higher spending did not reveal much about China's
"It does say that China is building its capabilities," he told reporters at
The Pentagon chief echoed repeated US calls for more
transparency in China's military spending.
"I think that greater
transparency would help, from the standpoint of the Chinese, in terms of both
what they're doing and what their strategies are, their intent in modernizing
these forces, greater openness about the purposes," he said.
secretary's mild reaction stood in contrast with the White House's expressions
of concern over China's announcement of its 2007 budget, and criticism of its military buildup by Vice President
General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US
military considers military capabilities that countries are developing,
regardless of their intent.
"We assure ourselves that we can deal with that capacity and that we have an
overmatching capacity for that, and where we don't, that we ask in the budget
for the funding to be able to address that gap if it exists," he