Thursday, June 14, 2007

Beyond Hypocritical

Pentagon Accuses China of Deception
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon said Wednesday that China is concealing its spending on weapons programs, including technology to disrupt U.S. space efforts. Testifying before a mostly supportive House Armed Services Committee, the deputy undersecretary of defense for Asia said, "What we see is a deliberate effort on the part of China's leaders to mask the nature of Chinese military capabilities."

As a result, Richard P. Lawless said, "the outside world has limited knowledge of the motivations, decision-making and key capabilities of China's military or the direction of its modernization."

Still, Lawless said China's goals are clear.

"We are seeing China emerge as a growing international space power" while rapidly developing its armed forces to compel Taiwan to bend to its demands, he said.

While China's long-range power remains limited, Lawless said China was modernizing its nuclear force to be capable of strategic strikes beyond the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, Lawless said China was using proceeds from its growing wealth and gains from trade with the United States to develop anti-satellite weapons, ground-based lasers and satellite communication jammers.

China has shown some interest in discussing U.S. concerns, but Chinese leaders have said little about what they plan to do with their emerging military capabilities," said Lawless, who worked for the CIA for 15 years before taking his Pentagon post five years ago.

"We believe these questions are reasonable and answering them in a transparent and forthright manner can only help to better understand each other," he said.

Committee members generally shared the Pentagon's concerns.

The chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., supported the Pentagon's contention that China intentionally understates its military spending.

Its official defense budget for this year is about $45 billion, but the "real" budget is between $85 billion and $125 billion, Skelton said.

Lawless said the Pentagon's best estimate was that China could be spending $85 billion to $125 billion this year. In 2003, he said, the most recent year of published spending estimates, China's official budget figure for military spending was $22.4 billion while estimates of actual spending ranged from $30.6 billion to $141 billion.

Skelton was critical of China's anti-satellite missile test in January, saying it will leave dangerous debris in orbit for years. He also said China continues to mass missiles across from Taiwan.

"Its power projection capabilities are steadily increasing," Skelton said, although China "is not necessarily destined to be a threat to the United States."

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, the committee's top Republican, said China had at least 10 varieties of ballistic missiles deployed or in development, including about 900 short-range missiles across the 100 mile-wide Taiwan Strait.

The Pentagon said last month in an annual report to Congress that China was modernizing its military in ways that give it options for launching surprise attacks, potentially far from its borders. The report said the Chinese are acquiring better missiles, submarines and aircraft and should more fully explain the purpose of a military buildup that has led some to view China as a threat.

Original article posted here.

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