China’s Military Rebirth Prompts U.S. Response

Military issues are sure to be added to the long list of topics Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to discuss with her Chinese counterparts during a visit there this week. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

China has been boosting defense spending by double-digit percentages annually – 17.6 percent last year – in a bid to modernize its large but relatively low-tech air, ground and sea forces.

The country is building destroyers, frigates and submarines; researching ways to construct an aircraft carrier; developing more sophisticated defense satellites; and aiming more missiles toward the island of Taiwan – the source of its main military conflict with the United States over the years.

[…] Top Pentagon commanders are responding to China’s strategies by shifting more surface ships, submarines and service members from the East Coast to the West Coast. Two attack submarines have been moved to the Point Loma Naval Base, the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson will join two other carriers next year at North Island Naval Air Station and the first batch of Littoral Combat Ships will be assigned to San Diego.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton probably will discuss the overall topic when she visits China during her current swing through Asia.

The Pentagon just announced that the military dialogue between China and the U.S. will resume later this month.

Meanwhile, AP reports that Clinton may be putting China at the center of her diplomatic portfolio and hopes to expand the U.S.-China relationship beyond just economics:

In a series of administration discussions to press her case, Clinton contended the complex issues related to China should fall under the nation’s top diplomat, not economic officials — who controlled them during the Bush administration — or others, the people familiar with the conversations said.

In her overture to the East, Clinton may have decided that the U.S.-China relationship offers an opportunity to build a lasting diplomatic record, according to Asia specialists inside and outside government.

An emphasis on China makes sense, said Drew Thompson, an Asia specialist at the Nixon Center. “She could create a legacy there.”

February 17, 2009 11:32 AM
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