Gates Says China Military Development Has Potential to Put U.S. `at Risk'

Here's an update from the post I wrote earlier today: The Pentagon grossly underestimated China: their ballistic missile is now operational, next on the list is a stealth fighter jet. It seems like Robert Gates is worried that China has the potential to put the US at risk.
Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said en route to Beijing that China’s military development could represent a risk for the U.S. and that the Pentagon is rearranging budget priorities partly in response.
Oh yes, the perfect excuse to add to the ever increasing defense and intelligence budgets and to restrict freedoms of speech and movement in the country.
“They clearly have the potential to put some of our capabilities at risk,” Gates told reporters traveling with him yesterday. “We have to pay attention to them, and we have to respond appropriately with our own programs.”

The defense chief said China may be developing a stealth fighter more quickly than the U.S. had believed, marking the second time in a week that a Pentagon official has said the U.S. may have underestimated China’s weapons development speed.

“We knew they were working on a stealth aircraft,” Gates said. “They may be somewhat further ahead in development of that aircraft than our intelligence had earlier predicted.”

Gates arrives today in China three days after announcing a five-year plan to cut defense spending by $78 billion, reduce the number of troops and shift funds to new weapons. His visit will restore ties that soured a year ago over a $6.4 billion U.S. arms sale to Taiwan. He will spend three days in Beijing before going to Tokyo and Seoul for talks focused mainly on North Korea.

The atmosphere with China is “perhaps better” now than his last visit in 2007, Gates said. He said the Chinese government last year played a “constructive role” in easing tensions after North Korea’s deadly attacks on South Korea, and restoring military ties with China will be “evolutionary” rather than marked by any “dramatic breakthrough.”
Gates last week unveiled an overhaul of budget priorities, carving savings from some spending plans and shifting them to other areas. In one case, the Navy plans to speed development of electronic jammers intended to thwart other militaries from restricting U.S. access on the seas and in the air.
Gates, like predecessors in multiple U.S. administrations, has struggled to persuade China to be more forthcoming about the intent of its weapons build-up. Chinese officials say their purpose is purely defensive.
What kind of joke is that? Be more forthcoming about the intent of its weapons? By the way, are they going to find some lame excuse and invade China like they did in Afghanistan and Irak?
The two sides also disagree over territorial issues such as how close to Chinese shores U.S. military vessels can operate. Gates said he aims to achieve more stable military relations and end the on-again, off-again pattern of interruptions during disputes over issues such as U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

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