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Friday, March 27, 2009

Pentagon criticizes China on military transparency

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China's failure to be transparent about its rapidly growing military capabilities has created uncertainty and risks of miscalculation, the Pentagon said in an annual report released on Wednesday.

The report, the first under the Obama administration, came weeks after Chinese boats jostled with a U.S. Navy surveillance ship in the South China Sea in a confrontation that heightened tensions over Chinese military activities near its coasts.

"Much uncertainty surrounds China's future course, particularly regarding how its expanding military power might be used," according to the report on Chinese military power, which was submitted to the U.S. Congress.

China was making advances in denying outsiders access to offshore areas and was improving its nuclear, space, and cyber warfare while making its military modestly more transparent, it said, noting potentially global implications to this trend.

China's People's Liberation Army has "left unclear to the international community the purposes and objectives of the PLA's evolving doctrine and capabilities," the report added.

Risks to the United States and its allies in the Pacific region arise from incomplete Chinese defense spending figures and actions that appear inconsistent with declared policies, said the report, the first under the Obama administration.

"The limited transparency in China's military and security affairs poses risks to stability by creating uncertainty and increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation," the report said.

The emerging Asian superpower could allay concerns and boost transparency through military-to-military discussions with the United States and by publishing better defense papers and other documents, a senior U.S. defense official said.

Beijing usually criticizes the Pentagon report, saying it unfairly portrays China as a military threat when it is committed to a "peaceful rise" as its economic power grows.



The report noted that the recent naval showdown between the two sides took place near Hainan island, where the construction of a navy base gives the Chinese navy access to international sea lanes and allows stealthy deployment of submarines into the South China Sea.

"The base appears large enough to accommodate a mix of attack and ballistic missile submarines and advanced surface combatant ships," it said.


By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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