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American QDR resorts to insinuation on China

08:12, February 24, 2010

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By Li Hongmei People's Daily Online

The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) report, the latest in a series of policy statements by the U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, was finally hammered out in Early February following the whole year's repeated deliberation. The 105-page report includes as wide arrays of issues as possible covering the assessment of the threats facing the U.S. in the future, suggestions for countermeasures, the defense strategy, the military diplomacy, the issue on "reprogramming" the Pentagon for 21st century challenges and so on and so forth. The report, as the U.S. defense policy and military strategy of the guidance document released every 4 years, would traditionally embrace some China-related content.

The latest report, although defined by Robert Gates as "truly a wartime QDR" with reference to the ongoing war being waged against terror on the Middle East battlefront, still follows the same old tone when relating China----making irresponsibly overstated remarks on China's normal military build-up and the clichéd presumptuous claim of China's "lack of military transparency". What is highlighted in the 2010 QDR is the innuendo that China and Iran are both "nation-state aggressors", and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) will plan for the "conflicts we are in and the wars we may someday face." "At different locations, (the U.S. needs) to simultaneously fight two large-scale wars," as implied in the report.

The 6-part report will definitely never miss the chance to add some color to the two emerging Asian powers---China and India. But it seems to be delivering a message that the two should be treated in a differentiated way by the U.S. geopolitical strategy.

Taken literally, the U.S. deems it still in line with the American interests that the two emerging economies are beefing up their respective strengths. But in actuality, the report betrays its purpose hidden behind that the U.S. is to combine India and contain China. In its description of India, the report says that with the surge in economic strength, cultural communication and political clout, India is playing a more influential part in the global issues. Additionally, India's ever-increasing international influence, along with its shared democratic values with the U.S., its open political system and its commitment to the global stability, will provide it with plenty of cooperative opportunities with the U.S.

On the flip side, the QDR speaks of China in a subtle way even if it agrees China's comprehensive strength is greatly enhanced. Meanwhile, it also points out that China's galloping economic growth and increasingly assertive political influence, plus its quickening development in military capability, enables the country to become the core of the regional strategy and one of the decisive factors in the global security issues.

The report further notes that China has set out to redefine its military role, mission and capability so as to win itself a more solid back-up in terms of regional as well as international interests and play a more robust part in providing the international public security products.

Finally the thread of discourse is switched to the currently boiled-over topic on Sino-U.S. relations. As far as the report goes, the bilateral ties between China and the U.S. have yet to see a clear future. Therefore, the report says the American side, for the sake of its own safety, will have to prepare for the alternative possibility, or perhaps, for the worst; or so to speak, it is in all likelihood that even the bilateral cooperation would not prevent the occurrence of the destructive competition and conflict from the both powers.

A report rife with alarmist talks on China's national defense is actually nothing new. And the long-term vacuum of trust from the U.S side toward China's development and military construction is already a platitude. Perhaps, there is no silver bullet to shoot the insidious problems poisoning the Sino-U.S. relations. China, a giant country still in its developing stage, would turn out more conspicuous to be targeted as the lowest-hanging fruit. The tougher thing confronting China at the time is, perhaps, how to guard against an arrow shot from hiding, as a result of its increasingly visible and vocal role on the world arena.

Back to the China-U.S. relations, only if the super power from across the Pacific took off its sunglass and looked at a developing China in the most objective possible way, could its pledges more convincing and image more positive to the Chinese people. At least, the U.S. should amply believe that to engage China is far more than just paying lip service.

Only when the ice of misunderstanding thaws out, could the seed of mutual trust take root and flourish.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.

Columnists

Li HongLi Hong

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

Gavin Jon MowatGavin Jon Mowat

Gavin Jon Mowat, editor and columnist for People's Daily Online.

As a graduate from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, Gavin came to Beijing 2 years ago to study Chinese.

Enjoying the culture and traditions of the orient so much, Gavin has since left his home in Scotland and is now living and working in China.

Gavin uses his background in writing to share his experiences of China with you at People's Daily Online.