- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — China has emerged as an increasingly powerful competitor in global markets, but its military technology remains at least two decades behind that of the United States, a report has found.

The Council on Foreign Relations report said the United States is likely to continue to lead China in military capability for at least 20 years if the United States continues its rate of military spending.

The 92-page report, released Thursday, was prepared by a task force led by former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown and retired Navy Adm. Joseph Prueher, a former U.S. ambassador to China.

The task force found that China’s military spending rose throughout the 1990s, and that the country is poised to become East Asia’s predominant military power, though it said North Korea could spark a change in the region’s balance of power.

While the report pinpointed the Taiwan Strait as an area of concern, the task force said China is unlikely to invade Taiwan, though it said China could impose blockades on Taiwan or lay mines in the strait.

U.S. forces would prevail in a conflict with China, but China could “impose serious risks and costs” on the U.S. military if the United States battled with China over Taiwan, the report said. The report also predicted that the United States “will continue to possess overwhelming dominance over China’s nuclear forces for the foreseeable future.”

It said devoting resources to other issues that concern China, including education, AIDS, and social security, “will in the long term constrain the pace of military modernization.”

The Council on Foreign Relations is a nonpartisan think tank.

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