Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rumsfeld Visits China, Returns Unimpressed

Donald Rumsfeld’s recent visit to China was significant in many respects. It was not only his first visit to China as part of the Bush Administration but it also brought into sharp relief the US-China tensions as China continues with its military modernization. Rumsfeld has been a persistent critic of China’s military behavior. He has raised the question of Chinese intentions at a security conference in Singapore a few months back and he returned to this theme again arguing that a rapid and secretive Chinese military buildup, raised questions about "whether China will make the right choices, choices that will serve the world's real interests in regional peace and stability." This is despite the fact that Rumsfeld became the first US Defense Secretary to visit the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army Second Artillery Corps (SAC), China's strategic missile command.

According to the Pentagon's latest report on Chinese combat capabilities, "current trends in China's military modernization could provide China with a force capable of prosecuting a range of military operations in Asia - well beyond Taiwan - potentially posing a credible threat to modern militaries operating in the region." The debate over China's military power and the purported need for a major US buildup to counter China's recent arms acquisitions is bound to become increasingly heated in the months and years to come and India will also be forced to negotiate its way between an America trying to preserve its military supremacy and an increasingly aggressive China. India's own military modernization should also take into account the opacity surrounding the military build-up of China.


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