Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988
Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Republican Duncan Hunter (R-CA) today released the following opening statement from the committee’s hearing on recent security and military developments in the People’s Republic of China:
“Thank you to my good friend, Ike Skelton, for holding today’s hearing on recent security developments involving the People’s Republic of China. Today, we take a look at China’s military capacity, the pace and scope of its military modernization; and China’s near- and long-term strategic aspirations in the region and around the world. The Pentagon’s 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report (QDR) noted that China is at a strategic crossroads with the ‘greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States.’ While much of the public’s attention is focused on ongoing military operations in the Middle East, it is important for this Committee to remain focused on all U.S. security interests throughout the world.
“I would like to welcome our witnesses—Mr. Richard Lawless, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Asia-Pacific Affairs and Major General Philip M. Breedlove from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We look forward to your testimony and your perspectives on China’s military modernization ambitions and their impact on the United States and our allies in the Asia Pacific region. We are also interested in hearing about possible areas of cooperation between China and the United States, as well as how we are preparing to deter and prepare for potential unexpected security challenges in the region. This is a timely hearing and we appreciate your appearance here this morning.
“During the last year, China demonstrated its resolve to transform and evolve its military into one that can challenge its regional neighbors first and then into a force that can conduct offensive operations globally.
“In October 2006, a Chinese SONG-class diesel submarine surfaced near the USS Kittyhawk—demonstrating a deep-water capability; on January 11, 2007, China conducted a direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) test—a provocative act signaling the country’s indisputable capability to challenge the United States in space. In March 2007, China continued a fifteen-year trend of double-digit increases in defense spending, announcing that it would increase its annual defense budget by 17.8 percent over the previous year to $45 billion. If you include categories of spending such as foreign acquisitions and military-related research and development, this figure could be as much as $85 to $125 billion.
“Such increased defense spending has contributed to improved capacity and capabilities for the Chinese military. Today, China continues to transform from a coastal navy to a fleet centered on anti-access and area denial. This fleet includes the Russian-purchased SOVREMENNY II guided missile destroyers fitted with anti-ship cruise missiles; nuclear attack and diesel submarines, including twelve KILO-class submarines delivered by Russia, and the Chinese-produced LUYANG II class destroyer with a vertical launch air defense system.
“Additionally, China is modernizing its offensive air capabilities—deploying the F-10 multi-role fighter aircraft to operational units; co-producing the multi-role SU-270 MK/FLANKER fighter with Russia; and arming its tactical aircraft with precision weaponry.
“Lastly, China’s strategic force ambitions remain strong. China has at least ten varieties of ballistic missiles deployed or in development and is updating some of its older systems with improved range, mobility, and accuracy—this includes about 900 CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles deployed to garrisons opposite Taiwan. China’s road-mobile DF-31 and its longer variant, DF-31A, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) reached initial threat availability in 2006 and are expected to achieve operational status in 2007. Make no mistake about it, these missiles could target and reach the United States.
“The basis for China’s military modernization efforts and emergence as a regional and global power is its economic engine. During the last ten years, I have watched China become the world’s third largest trading power by devaluing its currency to achieve an export advantage over its trading partners. In 2006, China’s trade surplus with the United States grew to more than $200 billion—a 25 percent increase from 2004. I continue to be very concerned about the Yuan, which remains undervalued by approximately 40 percent and the Chinese use of American ‘greenbacks’ to purchase its ships, planes, and missiles.
“If you look around the world, there is growing evidence that China is pursuing economic relations and military cooperation beyond Asia, including in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. As China’s demand for energy and natural resources increases, it is partnering with obstinate states such as Iran and Venezuela. In Sudan, China is the country’s number one consumer of oil. In return, China continues to be a major supplier of Sudanese arms, although it has declared its intentions to restrict arms sales to uses outside of Darfur.
“There is certainly positive potential for cooperation between the United States and China. The former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Admiral William Fallon, testified at the February 2007 PACOM posture hearing that he is optimistic about the future of U.S.-China relations after two years in command and that ‘military-to-military activities… such as exercises, port visits, and mid-level officer exchanges can over time reduce the potential for misunderstanding and provide the opportunity to positively influence future People’s Liberation Army leaders.’ In addition to military exchanges and exercises, the United States and China are cooperating diplomatically in the Six Party talks focused on a denuclearized North Korea.
“Despite these opportunities, questions remain, such as: What are China’s ‘true’ military intentions and military capabilities—from military contingencies in the Taiwan Straight to other regional contingencies? Will China emerge as a responsible global partner?
“China’s rapid economic growth, double-digit defense spending, investments in military modernization with a focus on power projection and its strategic forces, and increasing presence around the world require a policy employed by one of America’s great leaders, Ronald Reagan—‘Trust, but verify.’ This committee will continue to try to do just that.”