Rep. J. Randy Forbes, a co-chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, said in an article published Tuesday that the U.S. government has a “frightening reluctance” to highlight the challenges posed by China.
“This needs to end,” the Virginia Republican said on the blog of the Center for International and Strategic Studies. “U.S. officials must come to accept that while there are plenty of opportunities for cooperation with [China], there are also elements of our relationship that are and will remain competitive.”
The extended peacetime competition with China “at its heart is a clash of visions for the international system,” he said.
“This is not to say that conflict between our countries is inevitable. But if U.S. leaders are expected to marshal the diplomatic and military resources necessary to engage in this long-term competition, they must first be willing to speak more candidly about Beijing’s growing capabilities and strategic intentions.”
Mr. Forbes is in the forefront among U.S. officials seeking to tell the truth about China. His office produces the influential daily Caucus Brief of news and information on China that is said to have more than 1,000 readers, mainly congressional members and staff.
The lawmaker’s comments come as Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is finishing a major visit to Asia, where he only hinted during stops in Hanoi and Delhi that the U.S. shift toward Asia is targeted at countering the growing aggressiveness of China and its communist-ruled military, specifically in seeking control of Asia’s strategic, international waterways.
By not directly discussing the threat from China, Mr. Panetta was observing a secret directive within the Obama administration that prevents all U.S. officials from directly pointing to the growing threat from China.
China's military has been engaged in a decades-long buildup of military power that includes both strategic nuclear forces and advanced conventional forces that most experts agree is aimed at winning a future conflict with the United States.
The arms include at least three new nuclear missiles, an anti-ship ballistic missile for use against U.S. warships, large numbers of new submarines, anti-satellite weapons and large-scale and highly effective cyberwarfare capabilities.
Pentagon officials have said that there has been little pressure from Congress to do more to counter China's military buildup.
Mr. Forbes has been among the most outspoken, along with several other Republicans, including Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Michael R. Turner of Ohio, chairman of strategic forces subcommittee; and Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia.
One official said it is the “most dumbed-down” report yet produced.