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China – The ailing economy trumps China’s military modernization

Published on: April 11th 2009 22:12:17
As the latest Pentagon report on China’s growing military power underscores obstacles in the way of restoring US-Sino defense ties, economic cooperation between Washington and Beijing continues to advance. According to the annual report, the Chinese have not only increased the quantity of their major weapons systems but are also acquiring more advanced systems that could be used to attack Taiwan and blunt the superiority of American naval and air power. The Chinese government predictably denounced the report with Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin terming the document a gross distortion of the facts and an interference in China’s internal affairs. While Qin warned that the continued issuance of such reports would impede the development of defense relations between the two countries, the latest meeting between President Obama and Chinese President Hu ahead of the G20 summit in London reflects a different story. In their first face-to face encounter on April 1st both leaders emphasized the importance of increased cooperation and agreed to work to improve military ties. As the world economic meltdown continues and traditional foreign policy concerns receive less attention, US-Sino cooperation is being regarded as indispensable   Even though the Obama Administration is unlikely to ask Congress to repeal the requirement mandating the report's annual publication, we believe that the Pentagon will be quietly encouraged to tone down future editions. This would remove potential obstacles for expanded Sino-American cooperation while at the same time avoiding suspicions that the Administration was taking a “soft” position vis-à-vis Beijing.

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