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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid