Byline: Retired Navy Adm. James A. Lyons, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates met with China's Minister of Defense Gen. Liang Guanglie last week at the ASEAN defense ministers conference. Although the specifics of their agenda were unknown, China's aggression and arrogance this year means there should have been no lack of talking points. Certainly, China's unprecedented military buildup along with its illegal claims to the South China Sea should have been addressed head-on. However, it appears the main focus was on getting the Chinese to resume military-to-military relations and extending an invitation for Mr. Gates to visit Beijing in 2011.
It should be clear by now that China's Communist Party and People's Liberation Army refuse to value building military-to-military relationships as does the United States. The more we stress this goal, the more China is simply going to use it as a means to force U.S. concessions. For example, two presidents have failed to approve the sale of new F-16 aircraft and new conventional submarines to Taiwan in hopes that China will moderate its aggressive actions. China deftly employs the same psychology to prevent the United States from defending its interests in the useless six-party talks on North Korea while China's increasing support for North Korea allows Pyongyang's nuclear threat to grow.
On the other hand, China has no problem with advancing its priorities, which start with building the most powerful military in Asia as a direct challenge to the United States. In so doing, its intent is to place Japan, South Korea, Australia, India and other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) nations in positions of strategic subordination as well as destroying the democratic system in Taiwan. Furthermore, from the 2020s onward, China intends to challenge the United States for global military supremacy. In short, China's goal is to make the world safe for the continued survival of the Chinese communist dictatorship. China's successes, if unchecked, will come only with diminished influence and freedoms for the United States as well as for our friends and allies.
So far in 2010, China in April conducted provocative naval exercises in the East China Sea followed by precipitating low-level clashes with Japanese fishing trawlers in August. In September, a Chinese trawler rammed two Japanese coast guard patrol boats in the Senkakus, stoking Chinese bluster when the captain justly was arrested. Further, China has made illegal claims to most of the South China Sea and then declared it to be a core interest, meaning it is on par with Tibet and Taiwan in importance. China's continued military buildup opposite Taiwan, despite progress on economic and political relations, makes no sense unless China is preparing for war against the only Chinese democracy.
China also has expanded foreign military activities, such as maintaining constant naval patrols off Somalia, and a peace mission 2010 exercise in Kazakhstan in September that demonstrated heightened capabilities for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization alliance of dictatorships. …