Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Chinese Anti-Ballistic Missile Test and the Sino-US Relationship.

The recent Chinese anti ballistic missile test has drawn a muted response from the US government which marks a major departure from the heated exchanges between the Chinese and US governments after the 2007 anti-satellite missile test.
If the Chinese leadership is using the anti-ballistic missile test (here) as a message to the US on the pending weapon sales to Taiwan, the US is not taking the bait. On Monday, the US department of defense stated that they wanted to “maintain a positive, cooperative and comprehensive military relationship with China (here) and on the same day, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went on record stating that the missile defense test was not a response to the US arms sale to Taiwan (here) (here) and she continues to seek "a strategic and economic dialogue with China" (here)

There will always be up-and-downs in the Sino-US relationship and the usual speculation by pundits, but in reality, China has little influence over US policy towards Taiwan and by working with the US, it will yield more positive results as was demonstrated during Bush’s 2nd term. A hard-line stance, on the other hand, will prove counterproductive. At the same time, the US also realizes that it has little influence over China’s military modernization program. Bringing attention to China's anti-ballistic missile capacity, a capacity China will have sooner rather than later, would also be counterproductive.

In the meantime, both sides seem to have a bigger google to fry.

U.S. Seeks Positive Military Relationship with China

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2010 – The United States seeks to maintain a positive, cooperative and comprehensive military relationship with China, senior Defense Department officials told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Wallace “Chip” Gregson, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security, acknowledged that the U.S. relationship with the largest nation in the world is complicated.

China is a partner in some respects, but a competitor in others, he explained, and the United States must engage constantly with China and seek to lessen uncertainty.

Uncertainty is the major stumbling block to Sino-American relations, Navy Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the committee.

Willard noted inconsistency between Chinese security statements and reality on the ground. China insists its military program is defensive only, and that it seeks a peaceful and harmonious environment in which its economy can grow and prosper, the admiral said. But the Chinese military has increased its capabilities in power projection and in asymmetric and conventional forces.

“That ambiguity that currently exists, and our attempts to reconcile that, are the security issue that we hope to tackle in a military-to-military dialogue with our [Chinese] counterparts,” Willard said.

Gregson said the department is particularly concerned about Chinese developments in the nuclear arena, cyberspace and space.

The military-to-military relationship with China is important and must be nourished, the admiral said, and a good dialogue between the United States and China will help spread security throughout Asia.

“It’s the reason for our emphasis to the Chinese on the need for continuity, some constancy in terms of that dialogue,” he said. “We think that it’s lagging behind the other engagements between our nation and the People's Republic of China.” The Defense Department must speed up its engagement to match corresponding U.S. efforts on the economic and political levels, he added.

The United States will maintain its presence in the Asia-Pacific region “as robustly as we have in the past as we continue to engage the Chinese in dialogue and, hopefully, foster an improved relationship and get to some of the ambiguities,” the admiral said.

Gregson said U.S. engagement with China and U.S. engagement with the region are inseparable.

“Our consistent and increased engagement with the region, our enhancements of our alliances and partnerships there -- not only in the East Asian region but, increasingly, through the Indian Ocean area -- will be essential to us shaping the environment that will allow us to also shape or develop cooperative, comprehensive relationships with the Chinese,” he said.

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RAJ47 said...
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