Washington, D.C.— Today, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the following statement regarding the Department of Defense’s Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving China:
“This report shows how critical it is for the U.S. to be actively engaged throughout the Asia-Pacific region. China’s security posture is undergoing a significant transformation, and the U.S. must continue to be prepared to address a number of regional security challenges and opportunities and do what we can to encourage China to play a constructive role in the international security environment.
“Today, the U.S. and China face a number of common transnational challenges and have many common strategic interests. I am encouraged by DOD’s recent efforts to increase U.S.-China security cooperation in a broad range of areas stretching from counterterrorism and nonproliferation to energy security.
“I welcome China's efforts to move toward a more cooperative path for U.S.-China security relations in certain areas. China's ongoing counter-piracy efforts reflect a constructive use of its military power in line with its international responsibilities, and the reduction in tensions across the Taiwan Strait in recent years continues to be a positive development with the potential for further improvement. The U.S. and China must also continue to work closely together, and with other members of the international community, to address North Korea's aggressive behavior, which undermines peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.
“However, we clearly still have a long way to go in U.S.-China security relations. Particularly troubling is China's continuing trend of suspending U.S.-China military-to-military contacts, which limits the extent to which our nations can explore areas of cooperation and is not a helpful approach to addressing our differences. There is a dangerous risk that miscommunication and misperception between the U.S. and China could lead to a miscalculation, particularly given China’s increasing military capabilities, and military-to-military contacts are an essential tool to help prevent such instances. These contacts promote understanding, build trust, prevent conflict, and when appropriate, foster cooperation.
“I am also concerned by some continuing trends and ambiguities regarding China's military modernization, including its missile buildup across from Taiwan, its maritime activities in the South China Sea, and the steady increase of its power projection capabilities, which do not obviously support China's stated national security objectives. I encourage meaningful action by China to reduce its military presence directly opposite Taiwan and to implement the points made in President Hu Jintao's December 2008 speech governing the future of cross-Strait relations.
“While China has taken some steps toward increasing transparency and openness regarding its defense strategy and expenditures in recent years, such steps are modest. China's most recent military budget continues a trend of sustained annual increases, and China's strategic intentions remain opaque. This was highlighted by China's missile intercept test on January 11 and by the cyber-attacks on Google earlier this year. I hope China will increasingly come to view transparency more as a responsibility to accompany the accumulation of national power and less as a transaction to be negotiated.
“I continue to believe that China is not necessarily destined to be a threat to the United States and that China doesn’t need to view the United States as a threat to its interests. Yet, conflict between our nations remains a possibility, and we must remain prepared for whatever the future holds in the U.S.-China security relationship. At the same time, we must each be mindful that our actions can produce unintended consequences, and although cooperation is a difficult path, it is ultimately the path that is in both nations' best interest.”
The 2010 Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China report is available online at: http://www.defense.gov/pubs/pdfs/China_Military_Power_Report_2010.pdf