Pentagon’s unnecessary paranoia of China’s military strength

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/7 15:58:39

The Pentagon released a 106-page report titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2017" on Tuesday.

Some of the highlights include the claim that China's defense budget for 2017 will reach $180 billion, a figure much higher than China's official figure of 954.3 billion yuan ($151.4 billion). The report mentioned China's first "overseas naval military base" in Djibouti several times and speculated that China will seek to establish more military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship, such as Pakistan.

The report expressed concern over cyber espionage, claiming that computer systems, including those owned by the US government, continued to be targeted by China-based intrusion through 2016. It also scrutinized the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force.

The report indicated that the US opposes any unilateral change to the status quo in the Taiwan Straits by either side and does not support Taiwan independence. "Consistent with the TRA (Taiwan Relations Act), the US has contributed to peace, security, and stability in the Taiwan Straits, including by providing defense articles and services to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," the report stated.

In general, the content of the document does not exceed previous Pentagon reports on China's military strength. However, these reports suggest that the US has decreasing confidence over its military supremacy in the West Pacific. The facility China is building in Djibouti is a logistics supply base, which differs from the traditional US overseas military base in nature. US military bases, often built in allied countries, also function to stress the US military presence and create a strategic deterrence.

China's military assets listed by the report cannot match that of the current US military, and cannot pose a challenge to US national security. However, the Pentagon is extremely concerned about any growth in China's defense capability, which can clearly be seen from this annual analysis of China's growing military power. Despite China's growing national strength, the Pentagon still wishes to safeguard its lead over China and maintain its hegemony in the West Pacific. However, this goal has become increasingly too ambitious and may now lie beyond the reach of the US.

It is inevitable that the gap between China and the US in military strength is becoming smaller, but as long as the Pentagon is rational, there will be no need for paranoia, as exhibited over China's logistics supply base in Djibouti.

The Pentagon will find it increasingly difficult to challenge China's national interests in the West Pacific. The area is geographically closer to China and concerns many of China's core interests, so the strategic determination to defend it will be much firmer.

The comparison of overall military strength between China and the US is clear. China neither has the capability nor the will to challenge the US. If the US feels limited in its ability to project strength in the West Pacific, it means that Washington has "crossed the boundary" into an area where it can no longer force China to make concessions.

Both China and the US need to respect the fact that there are boundaries to each other's strength. They should explore these limitations with a humble attitude.



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