The Pentagon on Wednesday identified the potential threat from China as one of the key terms of reference used to guide the Obama administration’s major military strategy assessment, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review, or QDR.
A fact sheet released by the Defense Department - the actual terms are classified “secret” - identified one of the “key security challenges” as “rising powers with sophisticated weapons,” a phrase defense officials said is a euphemism for China.
Other challenges to be examined during the review, which was launched recently, include violent extremist movements - the current term for Islamist terrorism - the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and failed or failing states.
One other national security threat to be examined in the QDR is identified as a blending of threats “across the global commons” of air, sea, space, cyberspace, something also dubbed “hybrid warfare,” and that also will involve a major focus on China.
The inclusion of China in the QDR is considered a victory for Pentagon policymakers and intelligence analysts who view China’s growing military capabilities as a major long-term worry, the defense officials said.
In the past, China’s military rise was played down under the so-called “self-fulfilling prophecy” policies first outlined in the 1990s by Harvard academic Joseph Nye,a former assistant defense secretary who is expected to be nominated as U.S. ambassador to Japan. Mr. Nye said that if China was designated by the Pentagon as an enemy, it would become one.
One defense official familiar with strategic affairs said the fact sheet makes a total of six oblique references to China, including China’s cyberwarfare activities, the need to prepare for a future conflict with China, and the need to maintain a high-technology edge in weapons because of China.
The QDR also is expected to continue the shift of U.S. forces to the Pacific region as a hedge against China.
Richard Fisher, a China military analyst at the private International Assessment and Strategy Center, said China qualifies for detailed treatment in the QDR.
“The Chinese Communist Party is a violent extremist movement, especially on the Taiwan Strait, and it has ‘spread weapons of mass destruction’ wholly or in part to North Korea, Pakistan and Iran,” Mr. Fisher said.
Mr. Fisher said, however, that he will be looking at whether the final QDR, due to Congress early next year, “engages in verbal disarmament by indirectly referring to China with euphemisms instead of clearly stating the growing challenge from the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army.”
A senior Chinese official, speaking to several reporters in Washington on Wednesday, said China’s arms buildup was purely for defensive purposes. China’s policy is “not to seek hegemony” over anyone and to be “a force for peace in the world,” the official said, speaking on condition that he not be named.
President Obama is close to nominating the next assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, special correspondent Rowan Scarborough reports.View Entire Story
Bill Gertz is geopolitics editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly column ...
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