China Urged to Respond to U.S. Defense Cuts by Strengthening Long-Range Strike Capabilities

By Patrick Goodenough | January 6, 2012 | 4:48 AM EST

( – China should respond to Washington’s new “leaner, meaner” national defense strategy by “unit[ing] with all possible forces” and “strengthen[ing] its long-range strike abilities” to deter the United States, a Chinese state media outlet said Friday.

Recognizing that Iran’s policies are a restraint to the U.S., Beijing also should avoid treating Tehran in accordance with the values of the U.S., the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times added in an editorial commenting on the strategy unveiled by President Obama at the Pentagon Thursday.

The Chinese government has yet to officially react to the strategy, which involves a shift to smaller and more agile military deployments focusing on the Asia-Pacific and Middle East.

The document, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, refers to potential attempts by “sophisticated adversaries,” using capabilities including electronic warfare, missiles and air defenses, to deny U.S. forces access to and freedom to operate in certain areas.

“States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities,” it says, adding that the U.S. will invest as necessary to ensure that it is able to continue operating in such areas – “sustaining our undersea capabilities, developing a new stealth bomber, improving missile defenses, and continuing efforts to enhance the resiliency and effectiveness of critical space-based capabilities.”

Although the document does not specify the areas concerned, Beijing and Tehran have challenged U.S. freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz respectively, two of the world’s most vital waterways. The U.S. military refers to the strategy being pursued by antagonists as “anti-access/area-denial.”

Elsewhere the new defense strategy says that China’s emergence as a regional power will over the long term “have the potential to affect the U.S. economy and our security in a variety of ways.”

Although the U.S. and China have a strong interest in building a cooperative relationship, it says, “the growth of China’s military power must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region.”

“The United States will continue to make the necessary investments to ensure that we maintain regional access and the ability to operate freely in keeping with our treaty obligations and with international law.”

On Iran, the document says military policy in the Gulf region will emphasize security “to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon capability and counter its destabilizing policies.”

“To support these objectives, the United States will continue to place a premium on U.S. and allied military presence in – and support of – partner nations in and around this region.”

‘U.S. cannot stop the rise of China’

In the editorial, Global Times said China should respond soberly to the new development.

“Since [China] has become a firm strategic target of the U.S., its efforts to improve Sino-U.S. relations have proved incapable of offsetting U.S. worries over its rise,” it said. “China can only use its strength to gain friendship from the U.S. from now on.”

“Dealing with the U.S. containment attempts should be one of China’s diplomatic strategic goals,” the editorial continued. “China should unite with all possible forces and keep certain strategic initiatives against the U.S.”

Global Times noted that the strategy document identifies China’s “anti-access capabilities” as a target.

“China should come up with countermeasures,” it said. “It should strengthen its long-range strike abilities and put more deterrence on the U.S. The U.S. must realize that it cannot stop the rise of China and that being friendly to China is in its utmost interests.”

The editorial interpreted as significant the U.S. document’s references to Iran.

“The U.S. strategic adjustment highlights Iran’s importance to China. Iran’s existence and its stance form a strong check against the U.S.,” it said. “China should not treat Iran following U.S. cultural, social and political values.”

China’s biggest advantage when dealing with the U.S. is its rapid economic development, the editorial argued.

“The U.S. can hardly provoke China in the economic field, unlike its developing military strength which gives excuses for the West to suppress China. The more the two focus on economic competition, the more the situation will tilt China’s way.”

“China should try to avoid a new cold war with the U.S.,” the article concluded, “but by no means should it give up its peripheral security in exchange for U.S. ease in Asia.”

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow