The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 27, 2005

CHINA THREAT:  PENTAGON REPORT REVEALS 'GROWING SUSPICION' OF BEIJING

KEY FINDINGS

**  The Pentagon's "sober" report details China's "truly alarming" military modernization.

**  Pro-Beijing papers dismiss the "unreasonable" report's "exaggerated estimates."

**  Taiwan outlets say the report notes a "dangerous imbalance" in the cross-strait equation.

**  Beijing critics link the report to China's recent "haughty and bellicose" nuclear threats.

MAJOR THEMES

A 'threat to the peace and security of the entire world'--  Critics of China's "unscrupulous move to expand" its military welcomed the Pentagon's report as a "wake-up call" for the entire Asian region.  Canada's nationalist Ottawa Citizen assailed both Beijing's "relentless spending" on its military and "pattern of military threats against the U.S.," while other dailies added warnings of China's "rising jingoism."  Japanese media opined that China's neighbors "cannot help but feel a sense of mistrust and vigilance" towards its "rapid militarization."  Moderate Yomiuri noted Beijing's "moves to deepen confrontation" with Tokyo, while liberal Asahi said the Chinese military's "non-transparent moves...look ominous." 

Trying to 'restrain, encircle and block China'--  Pro-PRC papers alleged the report's "obvious intention" was to "tarnish China's international image" and "create tension and estrangement."  China's Xinhua Daily Telegraph argued the report reflected the U.S.' "cold war mentality," while the China Daily judged the report an attempt to "paint China as a threat" with "wild surmises" and "poisonous information."  Several alleged U.S. hypocrisy in "viciously attacking" China's military spending in light of its own "dominant" defense budget.  Other papers said Sino-U.S. dialogue "should be increased" to "engender concord, not conflict."  Malaysia's leading Sin Chew Daily called China "in fact...a very lovable country."

Taipei should 'rely on powerful national defense'--  Pro-Taiwan outlets lauded the report's mention of Chinese "military aggrandizement" in the strait.  Citing China's "rising military clout," pro-independence Taiwanese dailies urged Taipei to "acquire the means to defend itself"; the Taipei Times called for "greenlighting passage of the long-delayed special arms purchase bill."  The Taiwan News backed expanded arms purchases to "deter Beijing's saber-rattling against a democratic and free Taiwan."  Pro-unification Taiwanese dailies instead contended the report missed the situation's "true reality"; the China Post concluded it merely sought to "lure Taiwan into purchasing more U.S.-made weapons." 

'Intemperate, irresponsible and highly provocative'--  Regional papers described the recent nuclear threats against the U.S. by a Chinese general as "typical" of a growing feeling in Beijing that "Asia is China's backyard and America should stay out."  The "sharp, authoritative and blood-curdling" warning was labeled as "potentially highly destabilizing" by Australia's liberal Age; several papers speculated that the "abusive remarks" could indicate an "increase in political influence" by China's military.  Other observers opined that the Pentagon's report "betrayed an insecurity" regarding China's "inexorable rise." 

Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, rmrmail@state.gov

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 41 reports from 10 countries over 20 - 26 July, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

AUSTRALIA:  "The Asian Power Game"

The liberal Sydney Morning Herald concluded (7/25):  "China watchers, take a moment to glance to its south-west. It has been decades coming, but that other teeming Asian giant, India, has made its way on to the diplomatic A-list at last. It is not just because the Indian economy is ticking along nicely, adding some welcome kick to the Asian growth engine, or that India is the world's largest democracy. India is being so energetically courted largely because of China. The stronger China grows, the more frantic the search for a counterbalance in the region, especially from that most suspicious of China watchers, the U.S.  India's prize--U.S. sponsorship for associate membership of the exclusive global nuclear club.  Last week the US President, George Bush, went about as close as he could to accepting India as a full nuclear power in exchange for New Delhi's agreement to a new "global partnership". India is not a signatory to the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, set up to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The treaty restricts the right to possess nuclear weapons to the five original nuclear powers, the US, China, Russia, France and Britain, and imposes restrictive safeguards on civil nuclear programs elsewhere. India declared its nuclear weapons capability in 1998, but its weapons are illegal under the treaty. The US has not endorsed India's nuclear arsenal but has ended the ban on access to US civilian nuclear technology and nuclear fuel--a ban imposed because of the illegal weapons."

"Figuring Out The Chinese Elephant"

An op-ed in the liberal Melbourne-based Age read (7/22):  "As China continues its inexorable rise as a global economic and strategic power, tracking the trends of thought and behavior within its closed political elite can be...perplexing....  Intervention in the global security debate by the dean of China's National Defense University seems outwardly to have been intemperate, irresponsible and highly provocative....  It is unusual and potentially highly destabilizing, to go public with such threats....  It rekindles the debate in Australia whether we have the balances right in the efforts to manage a complex and delicate triangular relationship with China and the superpower."

CHINA:  "The U.S. Worries About Irritating China: U.S. Could Exaggerate China Threat At Any Time"

Zhong Qiu and Shi Chunjun commented in official China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (7/26):  “The White House, State Department and Defense Department have all tried to decrease the pressure brought on by the recent U.S. report on Chinese military power.  Analysts think China’s strong reaction made the U.S. realize that the China threat theory will damage U.S.-China relations, causing hostility among the 1.3 billion Chinese.  This does not square with U.S. interests.  American analysts also indicate that if the U.S. treats China as an enemy, China will then become an enemy.  Instead, dialogue with China should be increased.  U.S. Deputy Secretary Zoellick will arrive in Beijing in August for a ‘global dialogue.’  However, as long as China’s national strengths continue to develop, the U.S. ‘China threat theory’ still has support.  The threat theory could be brought up again at any time.”

"The Decreasing Importance Of The U.S. To China"

Chu Shulong commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (7/22):  "China’s attention is now focusing inward.  What the Chinese government and people care about and think about now are more within China, not the outside world.  It shows a trend: when some people in the U.S. are exaggerating the threat caused by China rising, China, which is developing and getting more powerful, is paying less attention to the U.S.  It is not that the China is becoming less interested in the outside world; it is simply that the U.S. is becoming less interesting.  One of the ways to deal with China threat theory is to ignore it.  It will not influence China’s development.  Now the U.S. only concerns China in one area: opposing Taiwan independence.  And the U.S. effect in this aspect is mainly negative.  In fact the same thing has also happened to many other countries.  U.S. influence on many countries other than Japan is decreasing.  Their experience proves the U.S. is not reliable.  The world is moving toward diversity.  Men like Rumsfeld had better think about this, otherwise, the most powerful country will also be discarded by the world and history.”

"U.S. Wanton Distortion Clearly Reveals Its Intent"

Official Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) declared (7/21):  "The report on China's military strength fabricated by the US Defense Department was released on July 19 after repeated revisions and postponements. The report insists on taking the theory of the 'Chinese military threat' as its main purpose....  The report is full of exaggerated estimates and guesses, defining China's fully legitimate military modernization as a 'Chinese military threat'....  It claims that China is at the cross-roads of...hegemony by force....  The report alleges that the development, rapidity and scale of Chinese military strength have posed threats to the balance of regional military forces and to other countries. The obvious intention of the report is to create tension and estrangement in the Asia-Pacific region, to sow dissension in the relations between China and its neighboring countries, to disrupt China's peaceful surrounding environment, and to find an excuse for the U.S. to make its military strategy adjustment in the Asia-Pacific region aim at China....  All these consist of its objective to restrain, encircle and block China....  The report continues to prepare public opinion for US interference in China's Taiwan affairs....  The report attempts to tarnish China's international image...retard the Chinese People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) modernization process and maintain and further widen the epochal gap between the US military and the Chinese army, so as to guarantee US absolute dominant power in future Taiwan Strait relations....  The report's agitation of the 'Chinese military threat'...not only harms China's security and interests, but also is detrimental to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region....  The Chinese army's modernization by no means seeks to contend with the U.S."

"U.S. Report Rejected As Bid To Spread ‘China Threat’ Theory"

Sun Shangwu commented in the official English-language China Daily (7/21):  "Yang Jiechi, Vice-Foreign Minister of China, said the U.S. had grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs and sowed discord in relations between China and other countries....  According to Yang, China’s increased defense spending has mainly been used to improve living conditions for soldiers and officers of the People’s Liberation Army.”

"'The China Military Power Report' Improperly Claims The Mainland Will Attack Taiwan With Nuclear Bomb"

Wang Wenshan stated in official international International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao)  (7/21):  "From the fact that the military report on China this year has been delayed several times, one can see the pitched battle between the camp of ‘increasing containment’ in the Defense Department and the camp of ‘engagement’ in the State Department.  A U.S. neo-conservative official who was newly appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq indicated the following three countermeasures the U.S. needs to adopt with regard to possible conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan, and the possibility of China seeking regional hegemony: First, the U.S. should not do anything to help China increase military power, like selling it advanced weapons.  Second, the U.S. should request that its allies not assist China’s military modernization.  Third, the U.S. should consider setting up a new alliance in East Asia and Southeast Asia.  Rumsfeld stated earlier that the report has proven why Europe should continue its arms embargo against China, and why the U.S. strenuously requests that the EU not lift the arms embargo.  The issuance of the report is right at the time when the Pentagon is reevaluating its weaponry.  The evaluation will provide a blueprint for the military budget for the next four years.”

"Groundless Military Report Raises Tension"

The official English-language China Daily editorialized (7/21):  "In the 2005 report on China's military power...U.S. military strategists put a big question mark over China's future....  China is facing piles of problems. These challenges, however, will not divert the country from its drive to peace and prosperity. China's development has come about through participation in economic globalization, competition with others in the world market and recognition of a world system that is beneficial to all.  Its growth in global stature has come from its peaceful economic development...not from its military power or geopolitical assertiveness.  The annual report...sent out mixed messages. It stated the U.S. welcomes the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China but is wary of the choices the nation's leaders will make as China's power and influence grow--particularly its military power....  Like any other country...China is building a force that would be able to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity....  The use of force would be the last resort if a part of the country were to declare 'independence'....  This is an internal affair that other nations are not entitled to interfere with.  The report exaggerated China's military strength....  U.S. military strategists were trying to paint China as a threat with these uncertainties.  In contrast to previous reports, this year's placed a heavier emphasis on the threat posed by the modernization of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to other regional powers beyond Taiwan and to US forces stationed in Asia, as well as to the U.S. itself....  The report is clear--China is a threat.  The US document recommends renewed wariness of China on the part of the Bush administration....  Based on incomplete data and wild surmises, the Department of Defence gave congressmen and congresswomen poisonous information. It does not engender concord, but conflict."

"A 'Report On Military Power' Full Of Cold War Mentality"

Wang Faen and Ban Wei held in official Xinhua Daily Telegraph (Xinhua Meiri Diaxun) (7/20):  "Although the White House ordered revisions on many occasions to harmonize its approach, this 45-page report...continues to wantonly create and play up the argument that China's normal military development 'poses a threat to the region and indeed to the United States,' and again appears before the world with the features of Cold War mentality and power logic....  Harping again on the old tune, using exaggerated language, and saying frightening things to alarm people has been the US Defense Department's consistent method....  The Pentagon report has yet again levelled unreasonable accusations against China's military budget, wildly claiming that China's actual military spending is two to three times the publicly announced figure....  What is inconceivable is, while continually and viciously attacking China, the U.S., with the highest military spending in the world, has all along increased its expenditure....  In contrast to the U.S., China's national defense spending is still at a relatively low level....  Deliberately exaggerating the disparity in military strength on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has always been an important part of the Pentagon reports....  The facts are however that the biggest actual threat to Taiwan's peace and stability comes from 'Taiwan independence' elements....  The U.S. objective in making a great fuss about the Taiwan issue is to help American arms manufacturers expand their arms market and make more money, and at the same time to erect artificial obstacles to China's reunification cause....  It is not difficult to find through this report that there are always some in the U.S. who do not want to see steady and healthy forward development in Sino-US relations....  In handling Sino-US relations in the 21st century is it necessary to discard the Cold War mentality, and the US side should promote healthy development of the relationship with new ways of thinking."

CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "Give Up 'Taiwan Independence' And Both Sides Across The Strait Will Enjoy Peace"

Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News editorialized (7/23):  "After U.S. Defense Department issued the so-called 'Chinese Military Power Annual Report,' Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian authority immediately echoed the U.S. like a parrot and tried to create tensions again.  Chen Shui-bian tried to provoke the Taiwanese people's dissatisfaction with China and continued to stick to the 'Taiwan independence' line....  U.S. Defense Department's annual report has exaggerated China's national defense power and the growth of its military equipment.  The report especially stressed that the growth will pose a threat to peace in the Taiwan Strait.  U.S. Defense Department has put the cart before the horse.  Its report is misleading and it has intervened in China's internal affairs.  It is not in line with the Taiwan Strait situation and the real state of cross-strait relations....  Chen Shui-bian and the Democratic Progressive Party stick to their 'Taiwan independence' line.  Once there is a chance, they will stir up trouble.  Nevertheless, the U.S. Defense Department report did not give them much help.  There is only one way to cross-strait peace--that is one China.  'Taiwan independence' will not happen."

"Why Should Pentagon Exaggerate China's Military Power?"

Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po argued (7/21):  "The U.S. deliberately exaggerates the so-called China's military threat for the sake of its own interests.  By exaggerating the imbalance of cross-strait military power, firstly, the U.S. can expand its weapons sales to Taiwan; secondly, the U.S. can find an excuse to strengthen military deployment in the Asian region; thirdly, the U.S. can have grounds to reject the EU lifting the ban on weapons sales to China; fourthly, it gives the U.S. an excuse to spend more money on expanding armaments and developing new fighters and warships.  It does not only meets the interests of U.S. arms dealers, but also meets with the U.S.'s global military deployment....  Following the peaceful ascendancy of China, the Pentagon has treated it as an imaginary enemy.  This is a typical cold-war mentality.  Seeking peace and development and promoting cooperation are mainstream ideas of the world.  The U.S. authorities, especially the U.S. military, should follow these mainstream ideas, give up their cold-war mentality, stop promoting the 'China threat theory,' stop attacking China and interfering in China's internal affairs, and stop provoking China's relations with other countries.  These moves are of the best interests of Sino-U.S. relations and the U.S."  

"The U.S. And China Should Increase Strategic Dialogue And Mutual Trust"

Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (7/21):  "U.S. Defense Department submitted its 'Annual Report on China's military power' to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.  The report still upheld the 'China military threat theory,' which said that the continuous growth of the economy and military, China will pose a 'threat' to Asia-Pacific areas.  Such a careless and subjective conclusion is full of bias.  It shows the cold-war mentality....  The U.S. and China have already confirmed a senior officials' meeting on August 1.  Such a strategic dialogue will cover everything.  It will be helpful to boost mutual trust and can minimize the risk of military clashes due to misjudgments.  U.S.-China cooperation is good for the world.  And holding such a dialogue will be more meaningful than having the U.S. Defense Department treating China as the 'rival' and preparing the annual military evaluation report.  Indeed, the U.S. needs to increase its understanding of China.  Apart from the economy and military, the U.S. should learn about the culture of China.  Chinese people have a tradition of valuing peace.  Thus, China will not invade other countries.  The U.S. Defense Department's report is an exaggeration."

TAIWAN:  "Beijing’s Expanding Military A Global Issue"

Liu Kuan-teh wrote in the pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times (7/25):  "The Pentagon report is a wake-up call to the international community that Taiwan is not the only potential victim of Beijing’s missile development and military aggrandizement.  China’s emerging military threat has extended beyond the Asia-Pacific region to Russia, Central and Southern Asia, and Australia.  Even though the Chinese authorities have introduced the concept of ‘peaceful rise,’ a new term to describe China’s emergence, the notion of the ‘China threat’ is by no means limited to the Taiwan Strait.  In pursuing engagement with China, the international community, including the US, must state clearly that safeguarding a strong and democratic Taiwan is in the interest of US efforts to create peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.  Only by offering Taiwan support for continued democratic consolidation and defense can the impact of the ‘China threat’ be jointly managed.”

"Heed Wake-up Call On PRC Military"

The pro-independence, English-language Taiwan News declared (7/25):  "The [Pentagon’s] report shows that Taiwan is not the only potential victim of Beijing’s missile development and military threats, but that China’s expansive military capability is stretching beyond Asia-Pacific region to reach into Russia, Central and Southern Asia, and even Australia.  Despite the attempt by Beijing authorities to ease global concerns over its rising military threat under the guise of its ‘peaceful rise’ slogan, China’s military expansion has clearly become a serious provocation and a threat to the peace and security of the entire world as well as to the Taiwan Strait.  A collective effort must be made by the international community to both incorporate China into the international framework and deter Beijing’s military saber-rattling against a democratic and free Taiwan.  The people of Taiwan must do their part by putting pressure on the pan-blue legislative majority to face up to the reality of this threat and cease their spiteful boycott of plans to purchase necessary advanced defensive weapons procurements.”

"Beijing’s Rapid Rise Worries Washington"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post opined (7/23):  "The message from the [Pentagon’s] report is loud and clear: China is a threat, regional if not global.  Washington now views Beijing as a competitor, not a partner.  Beijing is in fact seen as a potential enemy, next only to the rogue states like Iran, Iraq and North Korea....  It is evident that Beijing is now in Washington’s cross hairs.  It would be better for Beijing to stay off the U.S. gun sights by assuming a low profile and refrain from making inflammatory rhetoric.  Beijing should know that the United States, the sole superpower in the world, needs an enemy, real or imaginary, to fill the spot vacated by the former Soviet Union.  Beijing should never dream of being a U.S. partner because it is a communist country and a dictatorship whose rise poses a threat to U.S. hegemony.”

"U.S. Report Accidentally Slashes The Achievements Lien Chan Made During His China Trip"

Tsou Jiing-wen noted in pro-independence Liberty Times (7/22):  "Following the release of the U.S. Department of Defense’s annual report on China’s military power, the reactions of two sets of people [to the report] are especially notable: The first is that of [the Chinese authorities accused in the report] whose [reaction] was that of outrage and [who] turned to criticize Washington for intervening and sowing discord [in the Taiwan Strait].  The other are some Pan-Blue members in Taiwan, who claimed in reaction that the report is Washington’s best packaging for its arms sales to Taiwan....  The old [leadership] in the KMT that is to step down in August has [attempted to] create a scene....  That is, during the recent meeting between members of the International Democracy Union and U.S. President George W. Bush, [KMT Chairman] Lien Chan claimed that Bush had expressed approval of his China trip.  To Lien’s surprise, Washington’s reference in the Pentagon’s report to the special arms procurement bill which is currently stuck in the Legislative Yuan was in reality a move to vote against the KMT’s boycott action, which was done under Lien’s leadership.”     

"Independence Ideology More Dangerous Than Arms Shortage"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post commented (7/22):  "Observers in Taiwan indicated that one of the purposes of the Pentagon report is to lure Taiwan into purchasing more U.S.-made weapons and to force Taiwan’s lawmakers to approve the Chen Shui-bian administration’s plan to buy NT$618 billion in military equipment from the U.S....  In fact, a fundamental reason that Taiwan faces a grave threat from the mainland is the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s independence ideology....  This tendency [to make Taiwan an independent state] is the main contributing factor to the tensions in the Taiwan Strait.  As long as Taiwan is ruled by independence-minded politicians, the island will continue to face a serious military threat from across the strait, regardless of how much it spends on improving its military arsenal.”

"Facing The Reality Of PRC Armed Threat"

The pro-independence, English-language Taiwan News editorialized (7/22):  'We believe that the reality of the PRC’s rising military clout and its declared willingness to use even its nuclear capabilities to prevent what it defines as a ‘Taiwan independence event’ cannot be ignored.  The people of Taiwan cannot blithely assume that either Washington or Tokyo will risk--or will be allowed by their citizens to risk--their lives for the sake of defending Taiwan form PRC attack for any reason whatsoever.  Therefore, any Taiwan government must place the defense of our democracy and autonomy as the highest priority, exercise considerable caution in dealing with cross-strait relations and should refrain from unnecessarily provoking Beijing’s Chinese Communist Party regime while working to strengthen Taiwan’s political, economic, social, culture, diplomatic and defense fundamentals....  While we do not believe that more weapons offer absolute protection, we also believe that the DPP administration’s call on the opposition-dominated Legislature to approve the draft special law for defensive military procurements is also a responsible action to prevent a rapid and dangerous imbalance in the cross-strait military equation.”

"'Rising’ In China, But Whether It Is ‘Peaceful’ Or Not Is Up To The U.S.?"

Pro-unification United Daily News opined (7/22):  "The U.S. Department of Defense’s ‘2005 Annual Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China’ was finally released.  In general, this report gives people the core impression that the U.S. believes China’s ‘rise’ is a fixed fact, but it is really up to the U.S.' evaluation to tell whether it is ‘peaceful’ rising or not....  The PRC believes that to handle the Taiwan issue, it requires the heightened and international level of military attentiveness [of the People’s Liberation Army] and that without such preparedness, China can not possibly maintain a deterrence force that is capable of ‘attacking [Taiwan] the moment it declares independence.’  The U.S. side, however, believes that military preparedness by the PRC has posed an international threat.  Washington thus reminded the Beijing authorities that China is now standing at a ‘strategic crossroad’ in an attempt to turn [China’s military buildup] into a matter that is beyond ‘Taiwan independence.’  Thus, in terms of the ‘Taiwan independence’ issue, Beijing [believes that it] can remain peaceful as long as it maintains [its principle of] ‘attacking [Taiwan] the moment it declares independence,’ but for the U.S., it also enjoys the liberty of which it could seize a pretext to make it [i.e. China’s rise] not so peaceful.  It is noteworthy that the ‘National Security Report’ that President Chen Shui-bian is currently working on also focuses on China’s ‘peaceful rise.’  In the report, [Chen] also seeks to expound China’s rise as a threat to the Asia-Pacific region and to the world, and [he even attempts] to imply that the rise of China will pose a threat to the United States’ position as a sole superpower.  Such a perception is obviously the one that is generally held by the Western hegemonies toward China, and it is also a perception that treats Taiwan as a foot soldier attendant going before these Western hegemonies.  This perception may not really meet the true reality...of China’s rise and it may even fail to meet the strategic views of Taiwan’s multiple interests."

"Messages Manifested By The Report On PRC’s Military Power"

Andrew Yang observed in mass-circulation Apple Daily (7/21):  "When compared with the [Pentagon’s] reports released in previous years, this year's report on the PRC military power carried a few characteristics:  First, the wording [in this year’s report] in describing the PRC’s strategic intentions and military strength is more precise; there is hardly any ambiguous or speculative phrasing.  On the surface, the Pentagon emphasized that its data collection of the PRC military intelligence was incomplete, but the report itself revealed that the U.S. has managed to obtain accurate knowledge of the PRC military intelligence.  The [U.S.] intention to contest [with China] privately can be found between the lines....  Second, it is noteworthy that the U.S. clearly believes that the PRC will seek to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts across the Taiwan Strait, and that the PRC’s objective is to prevent Taiwan's independence and to prevent possible intervention [in China-Taiwan problems] by the U.S.  In other words, the PRC has an obvious target in mind when proceeding with its military buildup.  [It is evident that] the biggest variable for military attacks is ‘time,’ and ‘time’ has thus become the most important factor for Washington, Beijing and Taipei in terms of their military buildup and combat readiness.”     

"Pentagon’s Warning No Surprise"

The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times concluded (7/21):  "Zhu’s comments were typical of the Chinese military, indicating the haughty and bellicose nature of the PLA.  The rising jingoism in China in recent years has gone hand-in-hand with its military expansion.  This has warned the whole world that China’s so-called ‘peaceful rising’ is anything but that.  It is no surprise, therefore, that a Pentagon report published on Tuesday in Washington affirmed the rapid pace of China’s military expansion....  The threat that China now poses is an issue that Taiwan and its neighbors need to resolve.  In fact, it concerns countries around the world.  The EU certainly must take a more responsible attitude in its considerations over whether to lift its arms embargo on China.  It should stop focusing on the commercial benefits of lifting the ban and do the responsible thing to help ensure regional peace in Asia and the rest of the world.  As for the pan-blue camp, its members have simply buried their heads in the sand as far as China’s military threat is concerned.  Although they have long refused to face reality, hopefully pressure from the US and other nations will convince its leaders to greenlight passage of the long-delayed special arms purchase bill.  In the face of China’s military threat, Taiwan has no choice but to acquire the means to defend itself effectively.  It must not always count so heavily on the aid of its allies.”

"Alertness One Should Have From The Pentagon's Report"

Pro-independence Liberty Times opined (7/21):  "Therefore, whether China will use a hard or soft strategy against Taiwan, the way for Taiwan to defend itself is to strengthen its national defense and psychological defense.  However, the most worrisome [thing] is that Taiwan’s defensive capabilities are clearly declining, and there is the trend of Taiwan’s reducing and China’s increasing military powers, [while] the opposition parties still boycott the arms procurement legislation without considering the security and well-being of Taiwan’s 22 million people.  Psychological defenses can break China’s soft strategy.  But as for its hard strategy, we must rely on powerful national defense to deter the enemy’s rash moves.  Lien Chan is stepping down.  The Pan-Blue Camp’s KMT Chairman-elected Ma Ying-jeou and Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng should give up the boycott strategy and promote the adoption of the arms procurement legislation as early as possible.  Or else, does this small group of Pan-Blue politicians want Taiwan’s armed forces to fight against the Chinese hegemony and defend our country by using ‘bamboo poles and kitchen knives’ [primitive weapons]?”

"The U.S. Is Worried About China’s ‘Non-peaceful’ Rise"

Chi Le-yi wrote in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (7/21):  "It is a little surprising that the ‘Annual Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China’ released by the U.S. describes China as very frightening.  The report states that China’s threat is not only aimed at Taiwan, but also at regional security.  Even the U.S. itself needs to be careful.  China’s ‘non-peaceful’ rise is pressuring the U.S. so hard that it seems that the U.S. will soon become breathless.  ‘Is China an enemy or a friend?’  This is a vital proposition for long-term U.S. observations of China’s developments.  However, there has not been any definite conclusion.  In 2002, President Bush released the ‘National Security Strategy’ report, which described China as ‘a potential great power in an internal transitional period.’  The United States was then quite confident in those developments and looked forward to reaching a consensus with China on relevant global affairs.  Now the general pictures of the U.S. and Chinese situations have not changed.  But its worth pondering over the intention for the United States to have stepped up its emphasis on the ‘China threat’ theory.”

"China’s Warmongering:  Intimidate Taiwan And Make A Show Of Force To The U.S."

Pro-independence Taiwan Daily declared (7/21):  "Judged by this report, China’s active strengthening of its military modernization in recent years was not merely meant to intimidate Taiwan but also an attempt to make a show of force for the U.S. and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.  This newspaper believes that while seeking to befriend the Beijing government to jointly daunt North Korea’s nuclear weapons proliferation, Washington must not lower its guard against China’s unscrupulous moves to expand its military buildup....  In particular, given the fact that the globalizing economic system has helped many Chinese people create their fortunes and improve their living standards, it will be very difficult for the Beijing government to convince its people to support its attack against Taiwan.  This newspaper believes that Taiwan businessmen all over China should exercise their relationships and influence to convey to the Chinese people the universal values of viewing economic development and peace as top priorities.  The ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan, on the other hand, must bear in mind a bigger picture of the [world] situation and the principle of ‘competition better than conflicts,’ so that Beijing will not get a wrong message and mistakenly believe that it can patronize the ‘pro-China’ power in Taiwan.  Moreover, the international community, including the EU, should not unrealistically expect that the Chinese government would resolve the cross-Strait issue via ‘peaceful dialogue.’  The international community should engage itself in a pragmatic understanding and identification of Taiwan’s strategic position in an attempt to maintain peace in the Asia-Pacific region and not let it be sabotaged by China’s military expansion.”

JAPAN:  "China's Military Power:  Call For Effort To Dispel Mistrust"

Liberal Asahi said (7/23):  "The Pentagon report criticized the lack of transparency in China's military spending, saying the actual amount is two to three times higher....  We cannot completely deny China's claim that the U.S. is ballooning the China threat theory, because the U.S. intends to secure an enormous defense budget....  However, not only the U.S., but also Taiwan, Japan, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, are concerned about the China threat...due to non-transparent moves of the Chinese military which look ominous....  If China wishes to dismiss the 'China threat theory,' it needs to make efforts to make its military situation transparent....  It is natural for neighboring countries to feel anxiety....  China should promote dialogue with the U.S. and Japan on the military front....  In reference to the Taiwan issue...if one side builds military capabilities, the other side counters. An arms race is inevitable....  Unification should be realized through political dialogue and both China and Taiwan should make such efforts....  China should provide a thorough explanation for its military buildup to the international community. Thus, China has the responsibility to build confidence with its neighboring countries, as well as the U.S., to maintain stability in East Asia."

"China's Military Power: Expansion Without Explanation Is A Threat"

Liberal Mainichi declared (7/23):  "China's defense budget--its arms procurement and nuclear and missile-related expenses--is not clear....  The Pentagon report claims the actual budget is two to three times higher, making China the second largest military power in the world, and its prominence is dazzling....  China's defense budget is increasing by double-digits annually, as is the number of ballistic missiles...targeting Taiwan....  Although Beijing countered the U.S...it has not given a convincing explanation to the military expansion with such momentum. The biggest problem lies there....  China is the only country in Asia that is maintaining a huge military buildup....  China is forging ahead on its path for military expansion--while calling for a 'peaceful unification' it maintains [its ambition for] 'unification by force' -- without disclosing basic information on its military capability. The neighboring countries, including Japan and the U.S., cannot help but feel a sense of mistrust and vigilance toward this attitude....  The U.S. delayed release of the report in consideration of China's diplomatic efforts on the six-party talks concerning North Korea's nuclear development....  As for the hardline remark made by a Chinese military official, in which he warned of a possible nuclear attack on the United States...the abusive remarks, which could lead to a nuclear initiative, cannot be considered an attitude of 'a responsible major power,' and this concerns Japan as well....  Intimidating neighboring countries is not the only role of a major power. We would like to ask the Chinese Government to increase transparency and credibility through dialogue and explanations."

"China's Military Power:  Abandon Its Ambitions To Use Arms Against Taiwan"

Conservative Sankei judged (7/23):  "The annual report points out China's military power expansion more than ever....  The report warned that actual military expenditures are two to three times higher, making China the third biggest military power in the world...and China could be the world's threat....  China's military power is extremely nontransparent, and mistrust and a sense of vigilance among the international community is only increasing....  China needs to take specific action to ensure transparency and build confidence....  China has to announce that it will abandon [its ambitions] to use force against Taiwan unconditionally, as the Taiwan issue is the biggest risk factor of all....  By doing so, the regional security environment will improve drastically, and the China threat theory will weaken at once....  Taiwan residents are exposed to a military threat by several hundred missiles everyday.  There is no violation of human rights more irrational than this. The democratic nations, which share the same value, cannot ignore this situation....  China's extraordinary military expansion is enhancing the Japan-US alliance."

"DOD Report Points To Military Threat From China"

Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri maintained (7/21):  "An annual DOD report, submitted to Congress, clearly points to a threat posed by China, which has been steadily building its military capabilities....  The language used in the report to refer to Beijing's military expansion is much more direct than that in previous Pentagon reports, indicating significant US concern over China's rapid militarization. Information on the country's military, including defense spending, has long been shrouded in secrecy. The report says actual defense spending is two to three times higher than official figures, ranking China third in the world in terms of defense expenditures behind the US and Russia. Should China continue spending at this pace, its military capabilities will be more than three times the current level by 2025.  In recent years, the Chinese military has focused on boosting its capability to deal with a contingency involving Taiwan. The DOD report notes that Beijing's military buildup has already begun to alter the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait in China's favor. The country is also trying to expand its presence on the high seas; the recent intrusion into Japanese territorial waters by a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine is part of such activities....  The prevailing view is that the Chinese military is gaining influence in Beijing....  US-China relations will affect the future international order. Should China's military expansion be allowed to continue, that framework will become unstable. The DOD report is also a wake-up call for Japan and its neighbors to take steps to handle the military rise of China, which is becoming the biggest threat to their national security."  

"U.S. Alarmed By China's Strategy For Acquiring Natural Resources"

A commentary in business-oriented Nihon Keizai read (7/21):  "Bush administration officials have become increasingly concerned over what they call China's strategy to secure natural resources, a move that could buttress the country's rapid economic growth. USG officials are reportedly at a loss over China's moves to deepen confrontation with Japan and China's efforts to get closer to petroleum-exporting countries hostile to the US, such as Venezuela and Iran. The annual DOD report points out that concerns over securing natural resources have increased tensions between China and Japan. A US military-affairs specialist who participated in the drafting of the DOD report expressed concern that China might augment its naval forces to protect shipments of oil from these exporting nations....  Unable to call on China not to rush to secure supplies of energy, the US is reportedly at a loss as to how or even whether it can slow China's oil-acquisition strategy."   

"Military Officer's Remark On China's Use Of Nuclear Weapons Not To Be Overlooked"

Conservative Sankei noted (7/20):  "If the U.S. intervenes militarily in an armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait...the PRC is prepared to use nuclear weapons....  Major General Zhu Chenghu made remarks to that effect at an official news conference held by the Chinese government for foreign reporters in Beijing last week....  Zhu qualified his remarks by saying these were his personal view and did not represent the Chinese government's policy....  However, the remarks of an influential senior military cadre at an official news conference can hardly be regarded merely as a personal view....  The purpose of Mr Zhu's remarks is unclear.  However, Chinese military officers have indeed been making frequent political statements recently. The anti-Japanese appeals and pronouncements on PLA reform by Lieutenant General Liu Yazhou, a prominent strategic expert in the Air Force, have created a stir.  It has been pointed out that the increase in political influence of military officers...reflects the weakness of the domestic control of the Hu Jintao regime. Some regard these political statements by the PLA brass as a sign of discontent with the Hu regime and pressure on the leadership.  In any case, we cannot help being concerned by such tough talk...as well as the unusual military expansion taking place in that country....  It is also quite natural for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to convey her concern about the scale and pace of military buildup in China when she paid a visit last week....  If something is not done about the present situation, the theory of China threat will only gain prominence, contrary to what the PRC government would like to see."

MALAYSIA:  "Rice Needs To Show More Flexibility In Handling Taiwan Issue"

Leading Petaling Jaya-based government-influenced Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily commented (7/26):  "Although Rice has been seen as a faithful US State Secretary of State for President Bush in her mission to carry out Bush's East Asian foreign policy, we do not see much flexibility in Rice's dealing with the Taiwan Straits issue. Rice should do more than just warning China not to use force on Taiwan. With the hawkish Pentagon leader keeps making US military presence seen by conducting frequent military rehearsals along the Pacific Ocean, and with the possibility of Canada joining the US-Japan Strategy Pact, we cannot blame the uneasiness of Chinese leaders when facing such an imminent threat as the country tries to deal with the sovereignty issue of Taiwan. General Zhu Chenghu's warning of using nuclear warheads on the U.S. homeland is simmering under concerns over the possibility of a war erupting in the Taiwan Straits. While we understand that as a major power, the U.S. has every good intention to maintain peace and security in the East Asia and Pacific region, we do urge Bush and Rice to try to understand the Chinese mentality better. Washington's deep-rooted mistrust in Beijing should be removed. History can prove that China has never been a country that would launch a military attack on weaker countries. If Washington continues to use a high-tune, high-power approach toward China, such an approach can only be misconstrued by the Chinese public as a form of imperialism of the United States wanting to interfere in China's domestic affairs. Such misunderstanding from both sides should be curbed before it develops into a nuclear confrontational stage that the world would eventually suffer."

"U.S. Exaggerates China Threat In Asian Region"

Petaling Jaya-based leading Government-influenced Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily asserted (7/22):  "The Pentagon report is formulated to give a good excuse for Washington to sell arms to Taiwan and to use it as a document to discourage the EU from lifting its arms sale embargo on China.  From China's perspectives, we would accept China's explanation that its military expenditure is aimed to strengthen its domestic conflict with Taiwan should war break out between the two.  Since 2000, China's foreign policy has been to co-exist peacefully with countries in the region and to reap mutual economic benefit for regional prosperity.  China's track record in the past years has shown that it is a trustworthy nation that the region can engage with.  It has earned high respect from the countries in the region.  We strongly feel there is no need for the U.S. to view China as a present danger or a potential threat.  There is still a long way to go for China to be able to compete with the mighty U.S. militarily.  The U.S. should treat China as friend and complement each other's role in the East Asia and Pacific region."

"U.S., China To Maintain Peace, Not War"

Government-influenced Chinese-language Nanyang Siang Pau argued (7/22):  'Soon after China's Liberation Army General Zhu Chenghu, a professor at China's National Defense University, said that China would use nuclear weapons to retaliate against the United States should the United States insist on assisting Taiwan militarily if cross-straits war ever breaks out, Washington has also released its much delayed 2005 report on China's military power. Comparing the general's statement with the Pentagon report, we cam only confirm that China indeed has the ability to launch a missile attack on US homeland if China is pushed to a corner on cross-straits tension. Although General Zhu Chenghu said that his remark was only his own personal statement, Sino specialists should know that under China's tight regulated military structure, a Liberation Army general would not have made such a statement without the consent from the top leadership.  After 1945, the world has only gone through one round of atomic bombing staged by the U.S. in Japan. Since then, the threat of any possible nuclear war is more verbal than actual. But knowing the national character of the Chinese, we do believe that China can really go to the extend of burning cities on both sides if the sovereignty right of Taiwan is challenged. China's nuclear missile warning can serve as a reminder to the Taiwanese politicians who still want to play with fire and go along the independent path, with the wrong understanding that the United States would come to its rescue when if war breaks out down in the straits. From the region's perspectives, we do hope China and the United States can maintain a peaceful co-existence in the region. Chinese leaders, besides showing their charm and soft diplomatic approach when receiving some Taiwanese politicians who visited Beijing in their effort to soft-talk them toward mutual unification ground, have also shown that they can also get tough when challenged."

"U.S. Should Accept China's Rise"

Huang Re Qin commented in Petaling Jaya-based leading government-influenced Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily (7/20):  "Has China's rise made the US and Japan suffer from 'panic'? The US and Japanese governments recently reached an agreement, agreeing to authorize Japan to manufacture patriot advanced ground-to-air missiles researched and developed by the US. Obviously, this is a trick by the US and Japan to join hands to resist China.....  If it is willing to open its heart wide, open both hands, accept the facts of China's rise, and try to understand China, perhaps the US will discover that China is in fact also a very lovable country. If the US can truly have exchanges with China, it is believed that with the mutually beneficial relations between both countries, China will also become the US' staunch ally in Asia."

SINGAPORE:  "Politics Of Hypocrisy Rife Among U.S. Lawmakers"

Leon Hadar contended in the business-oriented pro-government Business Times (7/21):  "The only voice of reason that was heard during last week's hearing was Jerry Taylor...who tried to challenge the notion that CNOOC's bid is part of Chinese policy to develop an 'oil weapon'....  But the free-market argument was drowned in the nationalist and mercantilist rhetoric on Capitol Hill....  American officials and lawmakers don't want to admit that it is the U.S. that is engaged now in a strategy aimed at controlling the oil resources of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucus which would provide it with a leverage over other oil-importing countries, including China. But instead of admitting that, they are the ones searching for an 'oil weapon' against the Chinese; they are accusing the Chinese of trying to gain control over oil resources in order to gain leverage over the Americans....  Unfortunately, as they advance a mercantilist and anti-Chinese agenda, they should not be surprised if they discover that they helped to create a mercantilist and anti-American China."

THAILAND:  "U.S. In A Stir Over China’s Military"

The top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post stated (7/22):  "The Pentagon's latest report on China's military standing, however, shows more concern than seems necessary, thereby betraying an insecurity that is not becoming.  Likewise, Beijing's reaction to the report showed more ire than composure....  But China cannot blame the Pentagon for being wary about its military buildup.  A Chinese general is widely reported to have recently threatened the U.S. with a nuclear response if the U.S. attacked China in a fight over Taiwan.  The reported threat as well as the unease between the world's giants make for unwanted tension before both are expected to present a united front in six-party talks to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.  The ASEAN security forum in Vientiane next week, coming shortly after the talks in Beijing, should be an occasion for the superpower and approaching rival to unwind, rather than tighten up.”

EUROPE

BRITAIN:  "China's Rising Power:  Military Strength Is Normal.  What Matters Is How It Is Used"

The independent Financial Times concluded (7/21):  "Nothing is more reasonable or predictable than a rising economic power such as China using some of its newly earned wealth to enhance its military might.  What matters is how that strength is used.  Increased influence requires increased responsibility....  The Pentagon rightly complains about the secrecy surrounding China's military strategies and budgets, and reckons real spending is two to three times the published figure of $30bn a year.  There may thus be a good reason why the latest assessment reveals nothing shocking about the PLA.  The truly alarming aspects of China's plans and capabilities will be the ones that are not in the report because the Pentagon knows nothing about them."

GERMANY:  "Highly Armed"

Peter Sturm said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/21):  "The Pentagon report on China's military is sober but very clear.  The document lists the growing forces which Beijing focuses on the small Taiwan.  The 'compatriots' on the island, whose benevolence Beijing constantly pretends to protect, will certainly be delighted at so much attention.  They are faced with 600 short-range missiles, 700 airplanes, and 375,000 soldiers.  What for?  Beijing says it wants to undermine efforts for independence, but currently there is not really someone who is striving for independence.  And would it be so reprehensible if the people on the island decided in free elections for it?  But China is mute on this ear.  There are many reasons for this.  The U.S. report draws our attention to one long-term reason.  Some military officials consider Taiwan to be the springboard for a shift of China's sphere of interest in the Pacific Basin.  If this is the case, Washington must review its assessment of China's military capabilities.  The writers say that today, China could at best be considered a factor of power in the region."

POLAND:  "The Chinese Threat"

Piotr Gillert noted in centrist Rzeczpospolita (7/21):  “China’s military power is growing rapidly, and a Beijing which is compliant today may soon show the world a new face: the face of a warrior. This is in brief what the new Pentagon report says on the Chinese Army. Contrary to the current governments of France and Germany, who would most willingly fall into the embrace of Beijing, the Americans look at the developments in China with a much colder eye. If China manages to transform from an emerging power into a full-fledged power in some ten, twenty years, will the world be safer? Old Europe seems to uncritically accept the Chinese ‘yes.’ The Americans have many doubts....  One of the most crucial conclusions in this report is that there is a need to maintain embargo on deliveries of state-of-the-art arms to China. As it is known, the EU--owing mainly to the efforts by Chirac and Schroeder--has been preparing for years to lift the ban imposed after the 1989 developments. America’s growing suspicion toward China means that Washington will not soften its position on this issue. Quite on the contrary.”

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

CANADA:  "China's Nuclear Threats"

Jonathan Manthorpe wrote in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (7/22):  "There is no doubt that Maj.-Gen. Zhu Chenghu intended his warning to the U.S. to be sharp, authoritative and blood-curdling....  Gen. Zhu's message was purposeful and fits into a pattern of military threats against the U.S. by Beijing that go well beyond the question of Taiwan. The underlying theme of Beijing's message to Washington is that Asia is China's backyard and America should stay out....  Senior U.S. Navy planners and advisers admit the Chinese submarine fleet is already a significant deterrent to American freedom of movement in Asian waters. The timing of Gen. Zhu's statement suggests Beijing feels it has Washington off balance and would like to keep it there. Indeed, the constellations of interests that make up the Washington galaxy do not seem to be able to decide if China should be seen as a 'strategic partner,' to quote former president Bill Clinton, or a 'strategic competitor,' to quote his successor. At the moment, the Washington temperature gauge is veering more toward 'competitor.' Congress is worried about China's economic might, the outsourcing of American jobs, the gargantuan trade deficit with China, Beijing's interest in acquiring strategic assets such as the American oil company Unocal, and China's relentless spending on the modernization of its armed forces. Cooler heads are concerned there is no coherent or joined-up view of China among U.S. policy-makers. When the Pentagon and trade department talk about China they could be describing different countries. The U.S. State Department is trying to set up a framework for conversations with China on the basis that their bilateral diplomatic, security, trade, finance and energy relationships are interlocking and do not exist in isolation."

"China On The Warpath"

The nationalist National Post editorialized (7/21):  “With the kind of trumped-up inflammatory language that only a Communist functionary could muster, China has expressed indignation over a Pentagon report arguing that the rapidly expanding People's Liberation Army could pose a threat to the region.... Obviously, as a rapidly growing economic power, China naturally wants to modernize its military. But what is happening goes beyond any ‘defensive national defence policy,’ and the fact it is being carried out by a regime that has annexed and brutalized Tibet, subjugated its Uighur minority and suppressed its home-grown democracy movement makes the situation especially worrying. These expanded military forces could just as easily be turned inward to produce more Tiananmen Squares.... Mr. Yang, the Vice Foreign Minister, asks what ‘authority’ the United States has to assess China's military buildup. It is called moral authority. China could stand to benefit from an investment not only in armaments, but in that.”

##



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list