Dec 30, 2006

New Defense White Paper From Beijing

The Bush administration has been complaining to the Chinese about the lack of explanation from Beijing about their ambitious military modernization program.

China has issued a defense white paper (in part) to sate Washington's curiosity.

The latest in China's series of biannual defense white papers reiterated threats against Taiwan, gave questionably low defense budget numbers, and accused the U.S. of aggravating tensions with Beijing by referring to a "China threat."

But the 91-page document, the fifth produced by China's State Council since 1998, offered plenty of new detail as well. ...

Among the primary policy concerns of the new white paper was "upholding national security and unity ... opposing and containing the separatist forces for 'Taiwan independence' and their activities, taking precautions against and cracking down on terrorism, separatism and extremism in all forms." ...

The report put China's 2006 defense budget at $35.3 billion, up 12.5 percent from $30 billion the previous year. That is far lower than estimates from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which earlier this year put Chinese military spending between $70 billion and $105 billion in 2006, up from $60 billion and $85 billion the previous year.

"The defense budget continues to grow, and the white paper attempts to minimize this with comparisons to Japan and the United States," said Larry Wortzel, commissioner of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. ...

The paper cited its new mantra of "zhixin xiquan," or "informatization," as one of the primary goals of the military.

"A clear stress is placed on informatization -- that is, preparing the PLA to fight and win in a more fast-paced, high-tech, digitized battlespace," (said Bates Gill of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)).

China has been upgrading its C4ISR capabilities and continues to pursue programs that will enhance its combat effectiveness. These include a recent agreement between China and the Pakistan to jointly develop an airborne early warning aircraft. China is also developing more advanced satellites to augment its current deployment of 20 satellites that perform positioning, navigation, reconnaissance, scientific and meteorology missions.

The white paper also points to growing concerns over U.S./Japan cooperation in initiatives such as missile defense and joint weapons systems.

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