Washington, DC -- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement on the Department of Defense’s Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China:

 “I am concerned by some of the continuing trends and ambiguities regarding China’s military modernization, including China’s missile buildup across from Taiwan and the steady increase of China’s power projection capabilities.  Moreover, China’s military budget continues a trend of double-digit increases and questions remain about China’s strategic intentions.

 “At the same time, the reduction of tensions across the Taiwan Strait is a positive development and I encourage further progress in this area, including meaningful action by China to reduce its military presence directly opposite Taiwan.  Also helpful would be China’s implementation of points made in President Hu Jin Tao’s December 2008 speech, governing the future of cross-Strait relations, including cross-Strait military confidence building measures and negotiation of a peace agreement.

 “Other developments may also be encouraging.  The 2008 White Paper on China’s National Defense and China’s submission of an annual report to the United Nations on its military expenditures reflect positive steps by China toward increasing transparency and openness regarding its defense strategy and expenditures.  Yet, such steps are modest and 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 am also encouraged by China’s recent involvement in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.  This demonstrates a responsible use of China’s military power, in line with its international responsibilities, of which I hope to see more.  It also demonstrates the potential for U.S.-China military cooperation in this area.  President Obama recently called for an increase in the level and frequency of military-to-military contacts between the U.S. and China.  I couldn’t agree more and I hope we will be looking at opportunities in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere around the world.”

The 2009 Military Power of the People’s Republic of China report is available online at: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/ChinaMilitary Power Report 2009.pdf .