sees China as growing threat to U.S.
The Pentagon's top general warned yesterday
that China may emerge as a Soviet-like superpower in the coming years.
"I am firmly convinced that we need to focus
all elements of U.S. power and diplomacy on ensuring that China does not
become the 21st-century version of the Soviet bear," said Gen. Henry H.
Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a speech to the
National Press Club.
In particular, the United States needs to
convince China that resolving its differences with Taiwan peacefully "is
the only way ahead."
China's government stated in a recent official
report that the situation in the Taiwan Strait was "grim." The Communist
government is building up its missile forces opposite the island and has
also stepped up threatening rhetoric, calling for unification, through
force if necessary.
Gen. Shelton said the combination of a capitalist-style
economy and Communist political dictatorship is a potential threat to regional
stability. He noted that it will not be easy for the United States to prevent
China from becoming a new Soviet Union.
"China takes a distrustful view of the United
States' intentions, as articulated in their recent defense white paper,"
he said. The government white paper characterized the United States as
a global menace and threat to peace.
"They are aggressively modernizing their military
forces, both conventional as well as nuclear. At the same time, they hope
to maintain control of an expanding capitalist-like economy under a communist
hierarchy that embraces centralized planning and centralized control.
"This situation is a contradiction that could
threaten China's internal power, and consequently threaten stability throughout
Gen. Shelton made no mention of the recent
long-range missile test carried out by China during his visit to the country
The flight test of the new DF-31 mobile missile
was the second in the missile-development program and officials said a
third flight test could take place in the next several weeks.
The four-star general, who will finish his
term as Joint Chiefs chairman in September, said the next administration
will need to boost defense spending by $60 billion to $100 billion to fix
problems caused by underfunding during the Clinton administration, a depletion
that has caused a "fraying" of the military.
The problem for defense planners is "plenty
of strategy, not enough forces," Gen. Shelton said.
"And the wear and tear on our equipment is
significant, leading to what has been termed as a fraying of our force,"
Recent instability in Haiti, Africa, Indonesia
and Southwest Asia provide a window on the future international-security
environment, Gen. Shelton said.
"I think we all realize it's murky, it's frustrating
and it's increasingly dangerous," he said.
Asked if there will be any changes in the
military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy of permitting homosexuals to
serve secretly in the ranks, Gen. Shelton said: "I think that the current
policy strikes the right balance between the requirements for good law,
order and discipline, and provides for opportunities for men and women
to serve the nation, and I think from the policy standpoint, we've got
Improvements can be made in implementing the
policy, he noted.