Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

China hiding its military expansion: Leaked cable [Straits Times/Reuters]


This is not the first time Australia has been suspicious of China’s military build-up. As one of the U.S.’s keenest allies and a key benefactor of China’s rapid growth and need for resources, Australia typically has to take care of what its alignment to either. In this instance, however –

China’s military build-up and ‘the opacity of Beijing’s intentions and programmes’ was ‘already altering the balance of power in Asia and could be a destabilising influence’.

– – –

China hiding its military expansion: Leaked cable
Reuters
Source – Straits Times, published January 8, 2010

SYDNEY: China is hiding the extent of its military build-up, spending double what it declared in 2006, but may overestimate its might and escalate minor events into conflict and destabilise the region, according to a leaked Australian intelligence briefing.

A strategic assessment by Canberra’s intelligence agencies found that China’s military spending for 2006 was US$70 billion (S$91 billion), double the amount announced by Beijing, according to US documents provided by WikiLeaks to the Sydney Morning Herald.

China was building a military capability well beyond its priorities of self-defence and Taiwan, said Australia’s Office of National Assessments, Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Defence and Foreign Affairs departments.

‘China’s military modernisation is beyond the scope of what would be required for a conflict over Taiwan,’ said the 2006 secret assessment, by Australian foreign affairs officials for the US embassy in Canberra, which was published yesterday.

‘Arguably China already poses a credible threat to modern militaries operating in the region and will present an even more formidable challenge as its modernisation continues.’

China’s military build-up and ‘the opacity of Beijing’s intentions and programmes’ was ‘already altering the balance of power in Asia and could be a destabilising influence’.

The Australian security assessment said China’s military build-up, coupled with the People’s Liberation Army’s lack of operational experience, rising nationalism, and a heightened expectation of China’s growing global status, could lead Beijing to overestimate its military might and spark conflict.

‘There is the potential for possible misconceptions which could lead to a serious miscalculation or crisis… and minor events could quickly escalate,’ it said.

A confrontation with Japan last September, after a Chinese fishing boat captain was detained following a collision with two Japanese patrol vessels in disputed waters in the East China Sea, intensified distrust between the two countries that continues to cloud efforts to resume normal ties.

REUTERS

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Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Influence, International Relations, military, Politics, Straits Times, Strategy

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