China's Military Buildup a Threat to U.S., Analysts Say

By Gertz, Bill | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 22, 2000 | Go to article overview

China's Military Buildup a Threat to U.S., Analysts Say


Gertz, Bill, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


China's military buildup and opposition to the United States' role in Asia could lead to a war by miscalculation, several specialists on China warned Congress yesterday.

"Absent some systematic change in China, we can expect in the years ahead a steady level of military tension with Beijing, with the real possibility of a crisis," said Arthur Waldron, a noted China specialist with the American Enterprise Institute and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Waldron told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee that China is engaged in a "massive military buildup." The buildup, including nuclear missiles and conventional arms, is not based on any threat to China but because Beijing is ruled by "a communist dictatorship."

Larry Wortzel, a Heritage Foundation analyst and former defense attache posted in Beijing, also warned that "America should be wary" of China.

"The United States cannot be assured that China will seek to resolve territorial disputes peacefully," Mr. Wortzel said. "Despite Beijing's claims that it has only peaceful, defensive intentions, it refuses to renounce the use of force to settle territorial disputes; it continues to threaten the use of force against Taiwan; and it has used force in the international arena on a number of occasions in the recent past."

Michael Pillsbury, a visiting fellow at the National Defense University, said excessive secrecy by Beijing has made it difficult for the United States to assess China's strategy.

Mr. Pillsbury questioned the U.S. policy of "ambiguity" toward Taiwan and stated that public reports indicate the United States has no war plan to defend Taiwan.

"Do the Chinese have dangerous misperceptions about the U.S.?" he asked the panel.

Mr. Pillsbury said U.S. estimates of annual Chinese defense spending range widely from $10 billion to as high as $200 billion.

"It makes a big difference whether China's defense spending is less than one-twentieth or more than one-half of U.S. defense spending," Mr. Pillsbury said.

Mr. Pillsbury, author of two books on Chinese official writings, stated that the United States needs to devote more resources to understanding China's strategy, which is directed at splitting the United States from its allies in Asia and becoming the dominant power in the region.

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