US concerned about China naval challenge in Pacific

US concerned about China naval challenge in Pacific
Thu Nov 21, 2013 13:05:08

A congressional advisory panel has sounded a warning about China's military buildup, predicting Beijing could possess the largest fleet of modern submarine and combatant ships in the western Pacific by 2020.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said on Wednesday that China's military modernization is altering the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region and challenging decades of US pre-eminence.

The commission advises Congress on the national security implications of the relationship between the two world powers.

The groups' annual report also examined cyber-intrusions from China, the trade and economic relationship with the US, and China's global ties.

The primary recommendation is that Congress should fund shipbuilding and increase the Navy's operational presence region in support of the Defense Department's goal to base 60 percent of its warships in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020, compared with about 50 percent currently.

That's a priority of the Obama administration's diplomatic and military rebalance to Asia after a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The commission said it welcomes the policy, but added: “There is growing concern among US allies and partners that the Department of Defense will be unable to follow through on its commitment to the rebalance due to declining defense budget and continuing security challenges elsewhere.”

The panel recommended that the United States improve air and maritime capabilities of allies in the region.

Last year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the commission of “indulging in Cold War mentality.” Beijing says it has no offensive intent, and says Washington of trying to contain it.

The United States far outstrips China in military spending, but in Asia faces a greater burden in fielding forces far from its own shores.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, voiced concern that at a time when the military faces budget cuts, China's military spending is increasing and its leaders want to increase combat readiness.

“Its current pace of military modernization shows that Beijing is developing the ability to project power and influence further abroad,” McKeon, R-Calif., told a committee hearing.


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