Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Chinese Arms Buidup

Sources: Financial Times, Associated Press

Are the United States and China embarking upon a new arms race? Officially, China upped defense spending by 17.6%, to $58 billion. The US Department of Defense, however, claims that China’s defense spending is between 97 and 139 billion dollars. Nevertheless, according to China it is the Americans who are rolling back the world timeline to a new “Cold War.”

The Pentagon recently released a report documenting Chinese military growth, and criticized the “lack of transparency” in Chinese military growth, especially referencing China’s efforts to potentially operate beyond the Taiwan Straits. The report also noted concerns regarding nuclear weapons growth, as well as the development and acquisition of the new “Jin” class submarines. Nevertheless, China has blasted the report, claiming that this “is a serious distortion of facts and attempts to interfere in China's internal affairs and break the norms of international relations.” China further claimed that this was merely Washington attempting to isolate China by perpetuating the “China Threat Theory.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang urged the U.S. to drop its Cold War mentality and have a correct understanding of China and China's development, correct its wrongdoing and contribute to our mutual trust and constant cooperation.”

China, in her defense, has claimed that the growth in the defense spending has nothing to do with an arms race. China contends that defense spending is not excessive, and is only used to modernize an aging military, pay salaries, and meet the basic funding needs of the People’s Liberation Army.

Question: At what point will the US lose its “lone superpower” status? And, if China acquires the ability to conduct operations beyond Taiwan, what ramifications may this have internationally?

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