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Commentary: Pentagon's distorted view of China
( 2003-09-11 07:11) (China Daily)

The annual report on China's military power, released by the Pentagon at the end of July, sang an inharmonious tone with the mainstream development of Sino-US relations in the past few years, according to an article in the People's Liberation Army Daily.

Based upon Washington's long-held position that China is a potential challenger to US strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region, the report wantonly misrepresents China's strategic goals and defence policies.

The report says an economically powerful China will pursue a strategic structure in the Asia-Pacific region to its advantage and thus possibly seek strategic interests in a more extensive way, which will certainly weaken US influences and challenge Washington-dominated strategic order in the region.

Obviously such a theory is in marked contrast to China's primary goals of developing the economy and improving its people's living conditions -- goals pursued since the opening-up and reform programme was adopted in 1978.

The fact is that China has never desired or developed the kind of military capability necessary for strategic expansion.

Just as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad said, Asian countries have no need to worry about China's ever-increasing military and economic powers because the country has no tradition of conquest.

The Pentagon report says the major reason for China to give priority to its national reunification is that the country tries to avoid any challenge to the existence and the ruling status of the Communist Party of China.

It is obvious that such a conclusion was derived from a deep-rooted ideological perspective rather than from scientific analysis of China's security strategy and military objectives from the perspective of neighbouring nations.

In fact, China's strategic interests are more extensive than those the United States has been concerned about.

China focuses its strategic goals not only upon the ever-changing international situation, but also upon the traditional or non-traditional threats posed by terrorism, separatism, extremism, weapons of mass destruction, cross-border crimes, drug trafficking, ecological deterioration, and the spread of AIDS.

While analyzing China's strategic security goals, the report plays down the importance of the threats that China faces, demonstrating the US one-sidedness and inaccuracy in analyzing the strategy of a major power.

Any conclusions founded upon such an incomplete analysis are unconvincing.

Stressing China's nuclear intentions and military development in the field of space, the report accuses China of adopting an ambiguous military strategy, and thus casts doubt over its defensive military policy.

As a developing nation, China's top priority is to safeguard national security and create a peaceful international environment for its economic construction.

Permeated with a "China threat'' theory from beginning to end, the report unfoundedly exaggerates China's military strength to give people a false impression that Chinese mainland constitutes a serious military challenge to Taiwan, the United States and its allies in the region.

The report says China's real military expenditure in 2002 was US$65 billion, thus becoming the world's second largest military power only behind the United States. At the same time, it predicts that figure will be three or four times larger by 2020.

Truly, China has increased its military investment for reform and modernization. But compared with other countries, China's military outlay still stands at a comparatively low level.

In 2002, its military expenditure was about US$20 billion, only 1.6 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). The rate in the United States was 3.5 per cent the same year.

If China had really injected as much as US$65 billion into building its military, how could it focus upon economic construction and maintain the world's fastest economic growth rate for a number of years?

One of the major reasons for the Pentagon to concoct the report is to expand US arms sales to Taiwan and maintain its strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

For a long time the United States has thought of Taiwan as an important chip to contain China's clout, and taken the separation of Taiwan from China as a key to realizing its strategic interests in the region.

To this end, the report wilfully disseminates the "threat from Chinese mainland'' and "Taiwan emergency'' to add crisis awareness to the US and Taiwan public about the mainland's military might, thus creating a pretext for US weapons sales to the island.

By exaggerating China's military threat to the United States, the report is also aimed at hindering normal Sino-US military exchanges and co-operation, said the article.

A healthy Sino-US relationship is not always welcome to some politicians in the US administration and Congress,thus some of them lash out at China when Sino-US relations turn better.

China is a peace-loving nation, and will continue on its long-held peaceful path. Its military development is aimed at guaranteeing national security, economic prosperity, and social stability.

To push forward a steady Sino-US relationship that benefits the interests of both countries and world peace, the United States should decrease its groundless conclusions.

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