News / Asia

China Military Buildup Could 'Upend' Asian Security, says US Official

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia, Wallace Gregson (file photo)
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia, Wallace Gregson (file photo)
Al Pessin

A senior U.S. defense department official says China's military buildup could turn the Asian regional security balance upside down, and called on the country's leaders to be clearer about their plans and intentions.  The comments came just four days after the official was part of senior-level U.S.-China defense talks.  

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia, retired Lieutenant General Wallace Gregson, spoke Tuesday at an event sponsored by the Progressive Policy Institute.

"It has become increasingly evident that China is pursuing a long-term, comprehensive military buildup that could upend the regional security balance," said Gregson.

Gregson said China's decision to modernize its military is not by itself a problem, even with annual double digit defense spending increases.  But he said the effort to develop such capabilities as anti-ship ballistic missiles, advanced submarines, surface-to-air missiles, anti-satellite weapons and the ability to attack computer networks do cause concerns in the United States and elsewhere.

"The U.S. shares the concern of many in the region that this type of military buildup far exceeds China's defensive needs," he said. "In addition, these kinds of weapons threaten to undermine the basic norms that have bolstered East Asian peace and prosperity, such as open access to sea lanes for commerce and security assistance."

Assistant Secretary Gregson's comments came just four days after senior U.S. and Chinese officials held annual defense talks at the Pentagon.  After those meetings on Friday, the top American official involved, Under Secretary Michele Flournoy, called the talks "candid" and "frank" - words officials usually use to signal disagreement.

She said, and Gregson repeated Tuesday, that the Chinese officials agreed on the need for a more consistent defense relationship, without the kind of "freezes" China has imposed in response to U.S. policies it does not like.  But neither official indicated there was any formal agreement to end such freezes.

The U.S.-China defense relationship is just now coming out of an eight-month freeze China imposed to protest a U.S. arms sale to Taiwan.  

Also on Friday, Flournoy said the Chinese military representatives shared "some of their thinking on their strategy and capabilities development."  But Gregson said Tuesday the United States still wants more transparency about how China intends to use its rapidly growing military capability.

"We call upon China to become more transparent regarding its military capabilities, expenditures and intentions," said Gregson. "We are not asking for an unreasonable degree of disclosure, simply enough to allow all parties to avoid miscalculation."

The United States is the preeminent military power in Asia, and officials say it intends to remain so, even as China increases its capabilities.  Still, Gregson said "the United States and China are not inevitably destined for conflict."  He said differences need to be managed, and military cooperation must be deepened on issues where the two countries have a common interest, such as fighting terrorism and piracy, and ensuring open sea lanes.  

Gregson says that means more bi-lateral meetings and military exchanges.  At Friday's talks, the two sides agreed on a series of such activities during the coming year, starting with a visit to China by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid