Monday, July 26, 2004

Pentagon Report Examines China's Military

Is there another arms race around the corner?
The Pentagon has taken a new look at China's military modernization program. A recent Pentagon report concluded that after decades of relying on Eastern bloc technology, Beijing is striving to achieve a quality of weapons equal to those in the developed world within the next decade.
The Pentagon says it has much to learn about the strategic ambitions and decision-making behind Beijing's military modernization. One thing is known though. A decade of sustained economic growth in China has helped the Peoples' Liberation Army to close the weapons technology gap with the United States.
While China is closing the gap, assessment of the report is that the technology gap will not disappear.
The report concludes the Chinese military has directly benefited from what has been a five-fold increase in the country's economic growth, enabling Beijing to upgrade missiles, aircraft, and submarines, while looking to achieve the same level of technology as the industrialized world within the next five to 10 years.

But the Pentagon's latest assessment of China's military capabilities concludes Beijing is likely to fall short of fully meeting that goal. Richard Bitzinger is a researcher at the Defense Department's Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii.

"The concern is obviously that the Chinese are going to be moving from a military that was largely a 1950s and 1960s technology base to one that is certainly 20-25 years further on down the line," said Richard Bitzinger.
This is important as, on the ground, China has the obvious numerical advantage. Their problem would be in projecting this power. The areas they are focusing upon (missiles, aircraft, subs) are crucial in their ability to threaten Taiwan and blunt our ability to support the Taiwanese defenses.

Does this leave open the chance for another arms race? Seemingly yes, though there is no guarantee. If it does occur, it could possibly happen while the U.S. is facing strong economic competition from the EU and China and still engaged in the fight against Islamic terror.

Not a pretty picture.


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