China is building first-class weapons aimed to rival those of the U.S. And they are getting built way faster than we anticipated. Ready, set…
“China will eventually have a military powerful enough to compete with the United States,” claims Global Times. The nationalist editorial was published ahead of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ visit to China.
Gates hopes to bolster U.S./China military communication in an effort to gain a greater transparency with regards to their increasing military operations—something he probably will not get, nor does he expect to.
There have been increasing reports that China is building an arsenal of weapons to compete with the U.S., which China has long claimed is for defense only. Last year, Gates said that no country could come close to the U.S. in terms of an arsenal of advanced weapons. China itself claimed they were at least one to two decades away from catching up to the U.S.
It appears that China was being modest, and Gates admittedly acknowledges he underestimated China’s weapons technology.
“They clearly have the potential to put some of our capabilities at risk,” Gates told reporters traveling on his plane to Beijing. “We have to pay attention to them, and we have to respond appropriately with our own programs.”
Reports have surfaced that China has recently completed a prototype fifth-generation jet, dubbed the J-20—a fighter jet, said to rival the Air Force’s F-22.
“We knew they were working on a stealth aircraft,” Gates said aboard his plane to Beijing. “They may be somewhat further ahead in development of that aircraft than our intelligence had earlier predicted.”
Just last week, Vice Admiral Jack Dorsett, the head of U.S. Navy intelligence, said the Pentagon had underestimated China’s work on a ballistic missile that ultimately might be able to hit a maneuvering U.S. aircraft carrier.
A Washington Times article reports that critics of U.S. intelligence on China have said Beijing’s development of new missiles, submarines, aircraft and anti-satellite and cyberwarfare weapons have been underestimated by U.S. analysts for more than a decade.
Gates recently announced that Pentagon and Military spending would be cut by $78 billion over the next 5 years. On the contrary, China’s defense budget has risen over the past decade with an increase of 7.5% the next year alone.
As Gates meets with Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, and later with President Hu Jintao he will try to open a dialogue between the militaries that has been vacant since last year when the U.S. announced a $6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan—a rival of China.
The two countries will also discuss plans to ease tensions between the two Koreas. “My own view is that a positive, constructive and comprehensive relationship between the United States and China is not just in the mutual interest of the two countries,” Gates said. “It’s in the interest of everybody in the region and, I would say, across the globe.”
Fears that China is rapidly catching up to the U.S. in weapons technology, along with their booming economy to support increased military spending, coupled with our decrease in defense spending, is a recipe for conflict.
If Gates comes back feeling uneasy on the state of China’s military operation, we might just see a really to increase our defense budget, and if that passes Congress the stock of private defense contractors will jump—and well that could be the sound of the gun going off.