News / Asia

Top US Officer Concerned About China's Military Buildup, Lack of Contact

Al Pessin

The top U.S. military officer says he is concerned about China's military buildup and its freeze of military relations with the United States.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, spoke Wednesday to the Asia Society in Washington.

Admiral Mullen said China is a legitimate regional power, but he said its recent moves to develop more modern and long-range military capabilities make him wonder about the intentions of Chinese leaders.  

"Their heavy investments of late in modern, expeditionary maritime and air capabilities seem oddly out of step with their stated goal of territorial defense," Mullen said. "Every nation has a right to defend itself and to spend as it sees fit for that purpose.  But a gap as wide as what seems to be forming between China's stated intent and its military programs leaves me more than curious about the end result.  Indeed, I have moved from being curious to being genuinely concerned."

Admiral Mullen said his concerns are heightened because Beijing has cut off military contacts with the United States again, to protest the most recent U.S. arms sale to Taiwan in January.  The United States is committed to continuing to help Taiwan maintain its ability to repel any attack from the mainland, but China says the arms sales hurt its efforts to press for national reconcilliation.

Admiral Mullen says cutting military ties with the United States is counterproductive.

"The question is: Should China and the U.S. work together, lead together, to promote regional stability?  Washington's answer is and has been an unequivocal 'yes'.  Beijing's answer has been sometimes 'yes' and sometimes 'no'," Mullen said.

The admiral indicated that military exchanges and meetings would help both sides understand the other's actions and intentions, and would reduce the likelihood of potentially dangerous misunderstandings.

His comments followed criticism of China's military last week by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.  On his way to a regional security conference in Singapore, Gates accused China's top military officers of not following the same policy as senior political leaders, who have worked to develop other aspects of the U.S.-China relationship.  But some experts say the Taiwan issue is more important to Chinese leaders that U.S. officials realize.

On Wednesday, Admiral Mullen said China and the United States share a responsibility to promote stability in the Pacific and need to work together to do so.

"I hope we may renew our military relationship with China, and I hope that their military leaders will join us in supporting efforts to reduce tension, increase trust and foster the sort of genuine and sustainable stability that the people who live and work in Asia so very much deserve," Mullen said.

Admiral Mullen also welcomed China's recognition of the seriousness of North Korea's sinking of a South Korean navy ship.  But at the same time, he criticized Chinese leaders for what he called their "tepid" response to the international community's request for support in holding North Korea accountable.   

You May Like

Video Obama: Action on Climate Change 'Economic, Security Imperative'

President spoke to reporters on sidelines of UN Climate Summit outside Paris, where leaders are working to agree on binding measures

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs