China military gaining on Taiwan, aiming beyond: US

Aug 16th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Featured

China is working on the longer-range precision missile, but probably needs more work on the technical infrastructure to put the weapon into use, an official who helped draft the report said on condition of anonymity.

Japan and Vietnam, which both have historic tensions with China, have reported rising incidents with China’s military in recent months.

The Pentagon report credited China with becoming slightly more open about its military, but reiterated concerns about an overall lack of transparency.

In March this year, China said it was raising its defense budget by 7.5 percent to 532.1 billion yuan — 77.9 billion dollars at the exchange rate at the time — breaking a string of double-digit increases.

The Pentagon study was cautious on suggestions that China’s military was partaking in national belt-tightening, saying that the spending growth may be lower simply because the forces were at the end of a five-year program.

The Pentagon paper estimated that China’s overall military-related spending was more than 150 billion dollars in 2009 when including areas that do not figure in the publicly released budget.

The US defense budget — by far the world’s largest — is more than 700 billion dollars in the fiscal year beginning in October.

President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to broaden cooperation with China, which in the last quarter surpassed Japan to be the world’s second largest economy after the United States.

But the administration approved the package to Taiwan that included helicopters, missile defenses and mine-sweepers, leading China to snap military exchanges with the United States.

The Pentagon said it wanted dialogue with China to avoid any “miscalculation” between the two militaries.

“We stand prepared to work with the Chinese if they are prepared to work with us,” the anonymous official said. “But it only does us so much good to show up to a meeting if we’re the only ones that are there.”

The Taiwan arms sale did not include F-16 fighter-jets, which the island and many US analysts say are crucial to narrowing the strategic gap with Beijing.

© 2010 AFP

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