The man nominated to be the new Deputy Defense Secretary says the
United States must be prepared to meet any challenge from China, but he hopes U.S.-China relations will develop so that there is never any such confrontation.
Responding to a question from a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the nominee, Gordon England, said the Defense Department is "keenly aware" of China's military modernization, particularly the expansion of its naval capability.
"Senator, obviously a concern because it is a growing power and so we obviously need to keep track from a military point of view to make sure we are prepared to dissuade," he answered. "That said, I certainly hope that in the course of China's development we find mechanisms to make them our great friends."
Mr. England, who is Secretary of the Navy, declined to go into detail in public about what the U.S. military is doing to respond to China's military development.
Mr. England received a warm reception from both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate committee, who praised his four years of service at the Defense Department and as Deputy Secretary of the new Department of Homeland Security. His government service follows a long career in the private sector, including four years as executive vice-president of General Dynamics Corporation, a large technology company that sells many products to the Defense Department.
In his opening statement to the committee, Mr. England spoke about his leadership philosophy.
"Ethical leadership is especially critical in DoD [the Department of Defense] because trust and confidence define the strength of the link between a nation and her citizens and her military," said Mr. England.
Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman responded to Mr. England's statement.
"I found your opening statement to be stirring and I appreciate very much your patriotism," said Mr. Lieberman. "In the programmatic give and take that we have around here most of the time, we do not get to hear what motivates you. And I appreciate that very much."
The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to recommend confirmation of Mr. England's appointment as Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the full Senate is expected to do so. His predecessor, Paul Wolfowitz, was elected President of the World Bank.