Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Obama Cut the Military in the Face of a Rising China?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Obama Cut the Military in the Face of a Rising China?

Article excerpt

Secretary Gates's trip to China only revealed an emboldened Beijing on the eve of President Hu's visit to Washington, especially on the issue of Taiwan.

China takes center stage in Washington next week. President Hu Jintao begins a state visit Tuesday that could not come at a more critical time for President Obama and his drive to cut the Pentagon budget.

China's rapid modernization of its military, not to mention recent provocations of its neighbors, have left the Pentagon somewhat flummoxed over whether it can spend less money and still retain superiority in Asia, especially in helping Taiwan defend itself.

Years of trying to make nice with China - such as revealing how the US military operates - has yet to be reciprocated by a secretive Beijing bent on countering US military strength.

In the run-up to Mr. Hu's visit, China did welcome US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Beijing this week. But he didn't come away with very much, mainly a promise from Defense Minister Liang Guanglie to merely "study" a "framework" for further talks between the two militaries.

China, in fact, embarrassed the US defense chief by revealing a new stealth fighter jet, the J-20, that is designed to counter America's radar-evading F-22 Raptor. And the US commander in the Pacific, Adm. Robert Willard, recently let it be known that China now has the initial capability to use a medium-range antiship missile, the Dong Feng 21D, that could possibly knock out an American aircraft carrier. The Pentagon has already begun to shift its weapons to match such surprising advances by the Chinese.

Preventing an arms race between the US and China is in both nations' interest, especially as each faces challenges at home to create jobs. The first step is more cooperation between their militaries, such as better communication to prevent naval accidents at sea. …

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