Wed, Mar 07, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: China is a clear and present danger

China plans to spend 350.92 billion yuan (US$44.94 billion) on national defense this year, a 17.8 percent increase over last year. The rapid growth of China's military expenditure not only heightens tensions in the Taiwan Strait and unsettles its neighbors, but worries the world community as a whole.

News of double-digit growth in China's military spending is nothing new; after all, Beijing's military budget has been increasing more than 10 percent annually since 1993. But the curious thing is that China has no hostile neighbors and does not face any immediate threat, nor do there appear to be any potential ones. So what is Beijing's motivation for spending so much on military hardware when it faces a host of more pressing problems, such as declining health standards, inadequate education and social infrastructure. What is it pointing its guns at?

This is the real cause for concern.

China's military expansion is clearly not of a defensive nature, and Taiwan is planted firmly in its crosshairs. China already has more than 900 missiles aimed at Taiwan along its eastern seaboard and has established a legal pretext for using them -- along with other types of military force -- by passing the "Anti-Secession" Law in 2005.

Japan should also be worried. Concomitant with next year's Beijing Olympics, Chinese nationalism is reaching a fever pitch and Japan is China's first target in its quest for supremacy in the Asia-Pacific region. This, compounded by competition for oil reserves and influence in Southeast Asia, as well as continuing friction over Japan's role in World War II, has allowed the Chinese Communist Party to portray Japan as a national enemy. China can't be top dog until it has forced Japan into submission.

The US must object -- and intervene -- if Beijing ever decided to violate regional security by using military force against Taiwan or Japan. China has been striving to develop its own submarines in order to prevent the US from sending aircraft carriers into the Taiwan Strait, as it did after China launched missiles into the strait in 1996. In addition, Beijing's anti-satellite missile test in January demonstrated that it is also preparing for war in space. Since the US is the only state with appreciable military capabilities in space, one need not be a political scientist to figure out who China is gearing up to fight.

Such zealous development of "defensive" weaponry is certainly in conflict with China's "peaceful rise." This buildup is a threat to international peace, yet in its zeal to maintain business ties, the international community chooses to either turn a blind eye or to appease Beijing.

States all over the world should clearly express their opposition to China's military expansion. The EU, for its part, should continue to resist pressure to lift its military embargo against China. Meanwhile, Japan, the US and India will hold joint military exercises in the Pacific early next month. This is the first effort of its kind and a clear warning from the three countries of their intention to rein in China.

Taiwan's politicians are well aware of the threat China poses. They know that this nation's missile defense system and anti-submarine capabilities are inadequate against a Chinese attack, and yet some still choose to block arms purchases and hinder efforts to upgrade the military.

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