Chinese Military Buildup a Source of Interest and Concern

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - U.S. officials are calling on China to show greater transparency in its military strategy and doctrine, saying the country’s continuing military buildup is a “source of concern and interest” for China’s neighbors and the United States.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said March 8 that the international community will have a greater understanding of China’s intentions if there is “a better understanding of Chinese military doctrine" and its budget process, as well as the kinds of equipment the Chinese are developing.

McCormack made his remarks after China announced an 18 percent increase in its military spending, and nearly two months after it tested an anti-satellite system.  (See related article.)

China’s military buildup “has been a source of concern and interest for the United States, as well as others in the region,” he said, adding it would be in China’s interests, as well as the interests of others, for there to be “transparency in exactly what the Chinese government intends.”

He said there has been “marginal” improvement in Chinese transparency over the past few years, but “there's still a long way to go,” which is causing the United States and others to remain concerned.

Citing the anti-satellite test, McCormack said it “took everybody by surprise,” and China “has not been clear as to exactly what was its intention in conducting that test, as well as how that test fits into their overall doctrine about the weaponization of space.”  (See related article.)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates March 7 told reporters that Chinese officials are “clearly … making a significant investment in their military forces and in both strategic and tactical modernization,” and called for a “greater openness about the purposes.”

He also said he believes the military spending China has announced “does not represent their entire military budget.”

Gates said China's reassurances to the country's neighbors and the international community about its intentions would be “one of the most significant things [it] could do.”

He added that currently he does not view China as “a strategic adversary” of the United States.

“It's a partner in some respects. It's a competitor in other respects. And so we are simply watching to see what they're doing,” he said.

For more information on U.S. policy, see The United States and China.

A transcript of Gates remarks is available on the Defense Department Web site.