Sun, Jun 04, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Rumsfeld tells PRC to come clean on military spending

AFP , SINGAPORE

US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld urged China yesterday to explain its increased military spending to the world, saying it was in its interest to demystify actions that others find worrying.

Speaking at an international security conference in Singa-pore, Rumsfeld said China had every right to decide how to invest its resources but the rest of the world also needed to understand Beijing's intentions.

"The only issue on transparency is that China would benefit by demystifying the reasons why they are investing what they are investing in, in my view," he said.

A Pentagon report last month said China was spending two to three times more on military buildup than the US$35 billion a year it has publicly declared.

The report concluded that while Taiwan appears to be the near-term focus of China's military spending, the buildup poses a potential threat to the US over the longer term.

Rumsfeld did not put emphasis on the US view of China as a potential threat or future military rival either in his speech or in a question-and-answer session with defense and security officials and experts attending the so-called Shangri-la Dialogue.

He said he thought China's first choice was a peaceful reunification of Taiwan with China.

But, he argued that as China's stake in the global economy grows, it will face pressure to explain its behavior to the outside world.

"In life you can't have it both ways," Rumsfeld said.

"You can't be successful economically and engage the rest of the world, and have people milling around your country and selling things and buying things and engaging in exchanges, and have them at the same time worried or wondering about some mystery that they see as to a behavior that is unsettling," he said.

"If the rest of the world looks at China and sees a behavior pattern that is mysterious and potentially threatening, it tends to affect the willingness to invest," he said.

On other issues, Rumsfeld expressed concern about China and Russia's role in forming the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group of central Asian nations that last year called for US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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