A Chinese analyst said on Wednesday that the US had exaggerated Beijing military threat to exacerbate frictions between China and its neighbors, as Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said China appears to be building the capability “to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts” along its borders.
“China’s near-term focus appears to be on preparing for potential contingencies involving Taiwan, including possible US military intervention,” Bloomberg quoted Panetta as saying in a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Meanwhile, The New York Times (NYT) said, “China is trying hard to make up for its diplomatic setbacks in 2010, when, in quick succession, it picked territorial fights with Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan and India, and angered South Korea by not condemning Pyongyang’s aggressions.”
Shi Yinhong, director of the Center of American Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that the US has been active in Southeast Asian affairs in the past few years. Panetta’s comments could be seen as a provocation by the US to exaggerate tensions between China and its neighbors.
Although there were some frictions between China and its neighbors, the Chinese government has put a strong emphasis on improving regional relations this year, Shi said.
Panetta has been nominated to succeed US Defense Secretary Robert Gates who has just returned from his final international trip to Asia, which aimed to underline Washington’s prominent position in Asia.
However, the NYT said that China’s rise had upset the status quo.
Shi said that the possibility of large-scale abiding tensions are small since China will never provoke conflicts and neighboring countries would not intensify frictions.
Addressing concerns over China’s military growth, Panetta said that the US should continue to closely monitor the growth of China’s military capabilities while designing a strategy “to preserve peace, enhance stability, and reduce risk in the region,” Bloomberg reported.
“The complexity of the security environment, both in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, calls for a continuous dialogue between the armed forces of the US and China to expand practical cooperation where we can and to discuss candidly those areas where we differ,” he added.
He Xin and agencies contributed to this story