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Wednesday
Aug242011

Pentagon Releases Annual Assessment of China's Military

Shown in this photo is China's first aircraft carrier, the former Soviet carrier Varyag which China bought from Ukraine in 1998, at the port of Dalian, in northeast China's Liaoning province. Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon has released its annual assessment of China’s military capabilities, which guarantees, as it does every year, a negative reaction from China.  
 
Briefing the report Wednesday was Mike Schiffer, a deputy asst. secretary of defense for East Asia, who said China’s continued pursuit of new military capabilities “are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances.”  Schiffer added that it also increases “the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation, and may contribute to regional tensions and anxieties. Such capabilities could increase Beijing's options for using military force to gain diplomatic advantage, advance its interests or resolve military disputes -- resolve disputes in its favor.”
 
Schiffer said China is on track to achieving its goal of building “a modern, regionally focused military by 2020. However, China's ability to sustain military power at a distance today remains limited.”  In March of this year China announced a 12.7-percent increase in its military budget, continuing the trend of the past two decades.  Though China has made some progress in the transparency of its military intentions, Schiffer said “a number of uncertainties” remain and “we will continue and we do continue to encourage China to improve transparency and openness.”  
 
Schiffer said that despite major engagement on the political and economic front with Taiwan, China’s military still continues to focus its military developments on Taiwan.  “Despite this political warming, China's military shows no signs of slowing its effort to prepare for a cross-strait contingency,” said Schiffer.  Given America’s defense commitment to Taiwan, that focus remains a U.S. concern.
 
As China’s neighbors in Southeast Asia know too well, Schiffer said, “in addition to planning for Taiwan contingencies, China places a high priority on asserting and strengthening its maritime territorial claims.” 

Six months ago China rolled out its new J-20 stealth fighter, and just last week conducted sea trials for its new aircraft carrier.  But Schiffer said any concerns about China’s military progress aren’t centered on any particularly military platform, but instead on China’s overall military development.  
 
Schiffer wouldn’t address concerns about China’s cyber plans, but the report notes there were many cyber intrusions around the world designed to gather information that appears to have originated in China.  The report doesn’t attribute these attacks to China’s military, but cites several Chinese military documents as laying the importance of information gathering.    
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio