U.S. officials have recently expressed concerns about China's military buildup. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that while the U.S. relationship with China "is a positive one, . . . .we've been – all of us – very concerned about the Chinese military buildup." U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld expressed similar concerns in a speech in Singapore:
"It is estimated that China's is now the third-largest military budget in the world, and clearly the largest in Asia. China appears to be expanding its missile forces, allowing them to reach targets in many areas of the world, not just the Pacific region, while also rapidly expanding its missile capabilities here in the region."
Mr. Rumsfeld said that it is important to determine why China is improving its ability to project power and developing advanced systems of military technology:
"Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: why this growing investment? Why these continuing large and expensive arms purchases? Why these continuing robust deployments?"
China's growing military power is of particular concern, Mr. Rumsfeld said, given that its economic successes have not been accompanied by "a growth in political freedom." It is also of concern given that China's nominal legislature, the National People's Congress, passed an anti-secession law in March that authorizes the use of "non-peaceful" means if Taiwan tries to secede from China "under any name or by any means."
The U.S. goal is for China to assume responsibilities commensurate with its new role as a leader in the region. This will contribute to stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. encourages China to consider expenditures on the rule of law and greater popular participation in government rather than on military hardware and technology that do not advance the cause of peace in the region.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.