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US concerned about China's military investments

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says he is worried by Beijing's 'heavy investments' in the sea and air capabilities of the China military and its rejection of military contacts with the US.

By Huma YusufCorrespondent / June 10, 2010



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Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Wednesday stated that he is “genuinely concerned” about China’s expanded military programs. His comments are the strongest criticism of People’s Liberation Army since the US and China blamed each other last week for an ongoing freeze in military ties, and Beijing rescinded an invitation to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

China initially stalled all military-to-military relations with the US in January this year, when Washington announced a $6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan. Recent events threaten to destabilize overall US-China relations.

Admiral Mullen said in a speech in Washington that he was worried by China’s “heavy investments” in sea and air capabilities and its rejection of military contacts with the US.

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Responding to Mullen’s statement, the Chinese government on Thursday called for more trust between the two militaries, reports Bloomberg. China will “never be an aggressor,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing today, while calling for the US to foster “mutual trust."

Mullen’s comments follow a tense exchange between Secretary Gates and Gen. Ma Xiaotian, the deputy chief of the general staff of the PLA, during a defense conference in Singapore on Saturday. According to The New York Times, General Ma criticized Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan, while Gates complained that overall US-China relations are “held hostage” by the Taiwan issue and the PLA’s unwillingness to develop ties.

Analysts say the stand-off, which led to Beijing rescinding Gates’s invitation for a visit, reveals the disconnect between the two militaries. The New York Times reports:

Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, a Beijing analyst with the International Crisis Group, said the Obama administration’s hopes for cooperation with Beijing “have been more optimistic than current scenarios warrant.”

“China and the US continue to have fundamentally different values, goals and capabilities,” she said, citing China’s reluctance to press for the truth in the sinking of a South Korean ship, an attack that an international investigation determined was the work of North Korea….

The United States has struggled with limited success to recruit China as a partner in United Nations actions, not only against North Korea but also against Iran’s nuclear program.

Military ties between the US and China were further strained last month when Beijing refused to endorse an international investigation that showed North Korea was responsible for sinking a South Korean warship in March.

Previously, during the Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the US and China on May 24, Rear Adm. Guan Youfei of the PLA criticized Washington’s strategic approach, claiming that the US still viewed China as an enemy.

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