New US defense policy challenges trust;China in US gunsights!

By  Li Lianxing, Ma Liyao and Tan Yingzi  (China Daily)

WASHINGTON / BEIJING – US President Barack Obama’s revamped national defense strategy may challenge mutual trust with China, experts said.

While promising to make the US armed forces smaller and leaner, Obama pledged to shift the country’s military focus to the Asia-Pacific region.

The nation’s military review says that US economic and security interests are “inextricably” connected with the area and the US military accordingly will “of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region”, including strengthening Asian allies and investing in the strategic partnership with India.

Though Washington recognizes that the United States and China share common interests and stakes in the region, it fears China’s rise will affect its economy and security in many ways and it worries about the strategic intention of China’s military buildup, according to the review.

The assertive moves by the US may cause potential military tensions between China and the US, said Yuan Peng, an expert of American studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“China has repeatedly explained its defensive policy, but the US keeps pressuring China. This may irritate China and lead to negative reactions if the US continues to do so,” Yuan said.

“However, we need to be clear that the draft of the plan, as a whole, is not China-centered, though it is somehow offending that the document puts China in a similar position with Iran,” Yuan said.

In the 10 primary missions of the US armed forces listed in the draft of the plan, published on the US Department of Defense website, China was mentioned with Iran – a country labeled as a member of “the axis of evil” by former US president George W. Bush.

“Why does the US want to shift its focus to Asia-Pacific as the region has been the most peaceful area compared with other areas which saw conflicts and wars in the last three decades?” asked Xu Hui, professor with Beijing-based National Defense University.

The US military faces $450 billion in budget cuts through 2021, including about $261 billion through 2017, part of the administration’s effort to put the US fiscal house in order.

But “budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region”, Obama said at the news conference.

After the war in Iraq came to an end last month and as the US is winding down its presence in Afghanistan, Obama said the nation can now meet the new challenges, especially from the Asia-Pacific region.

“Our military will be leaner, but the world must know: The United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats,” Obama said.

In the document, the US listed China as one of the countries that will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter America’s power projection capabilities.

Although the Chinese government did not comment on the US review on Friday, the country had said earlier that it welcomes the US playing a positive role in the region, but it opposes Washington’s involvement in disputes in the South China Sea.

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China in US gunsights

A colour guard of US. and Chinese flags awaits the plane of China's President Hu Jintao at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland (file photo)
By Damian Grammaticas Beijing correspondent, BBC

The US review has prompted some to ask whether a clash between the US and China is inevitable

Is China’s rise going to lead to conflict with America? Is Beijing destined to go to war with today’s undisputed global superpower?

The question is not posed directly in the new US defence strategic review. But, unspoken, it is there, running through the document that seeks to shape America’s new military thinking for the 21st Century.

Read the review and it is clear that the challenge posed by a rising China is at the very heart of America’s new defence strategy.

The document is careful to say China is not destined to be an adversary. But it makes clear America is, nevertheless, about to retool its military to deter China, and, if necessary, to confront it.

Released by President Barack Obama at the Pentagon, the aim of the new strategy is there in black and white: to reshape the US military in a way that “preserves American global leadership, maintains our military superiority”.

The Pentagon and the White House are certainly not ready to accept the notion that America is inevitably facing long-term decline while China is on an equally inevitable rise. America wants to remain number one, and this new defence policy is designed to achieve that.

Lack of trust

In the very first sentence of his preamble, President Obama says “our nation is at a moment of transition,” and the review states: “We face an inflection point.” It identifies two basic forces shaping the transition, one inside America, one outside.

At home growing budget pressures mean there have to be cuts in military spending. At the same time there is the awareness that, abroad, China’s growing economic strength is changing the dynamic of power in Asia.

US President Barack Obama US President Barack Obama insists his country welcomes the “peaceful” rise of China

The new defence posture, says the US, encourages “the peaceful rise of new powers”. That is code for welcoming China’s ascent, and has been said many times before.

As to what China’s rise means, the new strategy is open-minded. “Over the long term,” it says, noncommittally, “China’s emergence as a regional power will have the potential to affect the US economy and our security in a variety of ways.”

Note the way that China is described as an emerging “regional power”. The Pentagon is not ready to accord China the status of a global power or superpower, or even an emerging superpower, a reflection of the fact that China’s military reach is still far from global.

However China’s economic influence does now span the world. America and China are bound by mutual self-interest. But the review is clear there is a real lack of trust.

“Our two countries have a strong stake in peace and stability in East Asia and an interest in building a co-operative bilateral relationship. However, the growth of China’s military power must be accompanied by a greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region.”

Arms race

So the US is still hedging its bets. Already last year, the Obama administration unveiled its “pivot”, turning America’s gaze towards the Pacific. That shift is clear in this new doctrine. “We will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region”, it says several times.

Now America is stating that it will work on several fronts to counter China’s emerging power.

There is a clear concern about China’s efforts to develop weapons that would make it hard for US forces to operate in parts of East Asia. China is investing in “anti-access” and “area denial” weapons like so-called “carrier killer” missiles that could sink US aircraft carriers at sea. It has also invested heavily in submarines and is building stealth fighter jets.

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army undergoing a tug-of-war at a military base in Hefei in December 2011 The US and China may send up in a tug-of-war over the Pacific region – and perhaps globally

All of those could push US aircraft carrier fleets further from China’s shores, limiting their ability to influence vital trade routes in the South China Sea, or to defend Taiwan if it is attacked by China.

The review says “states such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities.” But it promises “the United States must maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged”.

“The maintenance of peace, stability, the free flow of commerce, and of US influence in this dynamic region will depend in part on an underlying balance of military capability and presence,” it says.

So the US wants to keep its military superiority over China intact. What that leads to is an escalating arms race as America moves to counter China’s own advances.

In a way the Pentagon may be copying China’s own strategy, investing in similar types of weapons. There will be a focus on developing increasing air and naval power, and on advanced weapons such as even more sophisticated stealth jets, missiles and drones, along with cyberwarfare and space capabilities too.

Making friends

Strengthening a network of alliances around China is the other pillar of the strategy. “We will emphasise our existing alliances, which provide a vital foundation for Asia-Pacific security. We will also expand our networks of co-operation with emerging partners throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

“Start Quote

China must make the US realise that its rise can’t be stopped”

Global Times State-run Chinese newspaper

Already the US has close defence relationships with South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Australia. It is working to build ties with Vietnam, Indonesia and is “investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India”.

What all this amounts to is a very robust message of deterrence to China. The US will contest any challenge to its dominance. It will cement core alliances with China’s neighbours and protect its interest in East Asia.

To return to the question we began with. Will there be conflict between the US and China one day?

The answer may well depend on how China responds to this new policy. Will it seek to assert its own power in East Asia? Will that cause growing friction?

One early response to the new US policy has come from the state-controlled Global Times newspaper, often nationalist in its opinions.

It says “China needs to enhance its long-distance military attack ability and develop more ways to threaten US territory in order to gradually push outward the front line of its ‘game’ with America”.

“China,” the paper says, “must make the US realise that its rise can’t be stopped and that it is best for the US to show friendliness towards China.”

Related post:

China warns US on Asia military strategy


‘Poke eye’ Melayu English in many public institutions inexcusable!

The Star/Asia News Network

Melta: Language mistakes on Mindef website inexcusable

PETALING JAYA: The Defence Ministry’s English Language mistakes on its website is inexcusable, said Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) president Dr S. Ganakumaran.

“If these sort of mistakes happen with ordinary people, it is still excusable, but if large institutions make such mistakes, it becomes a big problem because they should be the ones setting the standard. If such mistakes are present, what can we expect from the rest of the country?” he asked.

He said if the ministry had chosen to use English as a part of their website, they have the responsibility of ensuring that it is done correctly.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said such mistakes were absolutely inexcusable, especially because it was from a government website.

“This mistake gives a very bad impression and image of the Government. They have improved in many ways, but little things like these overshadow them,” she said.

National Translation Institute of Malaysia managing director Mohd Khair Ngadiron said there was still no perfect replacement for a professional translator’s work.

“More often than not, machines tend to translate work literally, and even if we use Google to translate, we must still look at the context,” he said.He said anyone setting up a website should get a professional body to do its translation because the site would be viewed by many globally.

 Websites of other ministries have ‘poke eye’ English, too


PETALING JAYA: While there are no ministries which advise against “clothes that poke eye”, a check has shown numerous errors on their respective websites.

A check on the websites of the Prime Minister’s Office and the 22 ministries, apart from the Defence Ministry, found eight with English translation that fell below what could be considered good standards of the language.

Among them was the Education Ministry that states:

“Education in Malaysia is on-going efforts towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonic, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God”.

It was reported yesterday that the Defence Ministry had carried literal and somewhat amusing English translation on its website.

Other websites that used sketchy English include the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Ministry.

The websites for the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries, Tourism and Natural Resource and Environment ministries also had noticeable grammatical errors, but had better language by far.

The Transport Ministry had taken down its English site for “maintenance”, while the Higher Education Ministry did not have such option.

However, most ministries clearly took the effort to make sure they used proper English on their respective websites including the Prime Minister’s Office.

Two notable ministries were Home and Women, Family and Community Development that chose to use a more “approachable” way to explain their goals and functions instead of a “dry” approach.

Related Post:

“Clothes that poke eye”, Melayu English!

901 Malaysian Anwar’s life D-day? Rally allowed – only at car park!

Another twist in Anwar’s life


The Sodomy II verdict is around the corner and the PKR leader is pushing for a show of support with his party’s call for a mass rally on Monday.

YET another confrontation is brewing between PKR and its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the authorities as his long-drawn Sodomy II trial climaxes with a verdict by Justice Mohamad Abidin Diah on Monday.

Anwar, who is charged with committing sodomy against his former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan on June 26, 2008, is mobilising 100,000 people outside the courthouse on the day in an effort to presumably influence the verdict.

In the spotlight: Anwar and his wife Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail leaving the Kuala Lumpur courthouse in this file picture.>>

That number of people in a small court compound is also a sign of desperation on Anwar’s part, irrespective of whether that actual number of people turn up or not.

It is also an attempt to shake the political establishment, grip the nation’s attention, revive the flagging fortunes of his PKR and try to avert the inevitable.

Anwar has had a long and unrelenting political career that saw him rise to become the second most powerful man as Deputy Prime Minister but then fall from grace ending up as a prisoner only to rise again on his release in 2004, as leader of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

He came within touch of the country’s highest post, his lifelong dream, winning 82 seats in parliament in the 2008 general election.

The problem is that the political establishment saw Anwar as an outsider who first used the Islamic reform movement Abim to pressure for change and then when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad opened the doors, Anwar abandoned friends and principles and entered Umno.

He made short shrift of his opponents as he climbed up the Umno ladder and was helped along by Mahathir until 1999 when he was to have challenged his own benefactor for the Umno presidency and take the Prime Minister’s post that goes with it.

But he fell foul of powerful political interest groups and was expelled and jailed on corruption and sodomy charges in 1998.

He served his corruption sentence and was acquitted of sodomy and released in 2004 only to put together a loose knit grouping of three parties, including his own PKR, PAS and DAP, to win handsomely against then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the 2008 general election.

He managed to combine his grievances, especially the black eye incident, with the grouses of the people and romp home against an ineffective prime minister, winning big but not big enough with just 49% of the popular votes.

After that an eager and impatient Anwar, instead of accepting the people’s verdict and playing his role as Opposition Leader, styled himself as the Prime Minister-in-waiting and launched his Sept 16 gambit that failed miserably when Barisan MPs refused to defect.

His credibility plunged with nearly everyone – the international media, his own supporters and the Malaysian public at large.

In the meantime, Umno saw fit to change horses, urgently retiring Abdullah and putting Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in the captain’s seat. Anwar fought very hard to prevent Najib taking over but he failed.

Najib began his political and economic transformation of the nation and three years on is poised to call a general election on the strength of the changes he has introduced principally the repeal of the ISA and other outdated laws, a Peaceful Assembly Bill that allows demonstrations and repeal of Sec 29 of the Police Act that requires police permits.

He is also reforming the election laws and procedures, and has been criss-crossing the country meeting all kinds of people and offering aid and promising that the government is for all the people, not just a few.

Najib is now preparing to introduce a Race Relation law in the March sitting of Parliament that would further undercut the opposition chances at the polls by promising a fair and egalitarian society without discrimination based on race, colour or ethnicity.

Anwar on the other hand has been, as his one-time ally Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK) claims, a frequent traveller overseas giving speeches at numerous conferences while his sodomy trial here dragged on with numerous postponements.

Surprisingly, at the trial, Anwar preferred not to testify under oath but gave a speech from the dock decrying government oppression and persecution likening himself to Nelson Mandela.

He also gave up his chance to rebut Saiful thoroughly.

Further sensitive parts of Saiful’s testimony were held in camera, at Anwar’s request. Anwar also promised to call a long list of alibi witnesses but did not do so, weakening his case.

As many, including RPK, have said, Anwar received a fair trial this time compared with 1999.

Whatever the verdict, for Anwar it is just another day and event in a tumultuous career that could have easily floored a lesser man but not this incorrigible optimist.

Rally allowed – only at car park


KUALA LUMPUR: Police have allowed the much talked-about Free Anwar 901 gathering to go on as long as it is held at the car park of the Jalan Duta Court Complex here.

The court complex has parking bays for 1,000 vehicles.

City police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Mohmad Salleh said the decision was made after a discussion with PKR deputy president Azmin Ali yesterday.

“After the discussion, they (the organisers) promised to have a peaceful gathering at the car park,” he said during a press conference.

Approved site: The car park outside the Duta Court Complex where the rally is allowed take place.

The meeting between DCP Mohmad and Azmin lasted for one and half hours at the city police headquarters.

Meanwhile, Sentul OCPD Asst Comm Zakaria Pagan said they had imposed 10 conditions on the organisers and supporters.

They have banned the use of “Free Anwar 901” tagline and the organisers were allowed to use only two loud hailers for crowd control purposes.

“The use of Free Anwar 901 tagline and amplifiers is strictly forbidden,” he said.

Stressing that no speeches were allowed, Zakaria said the organisers must ensure that participants did not cause any nuisance.

He said they were only allowed to assemble at the public car park on the left side of the main road.

“Participants should not step outside the boundary,” he said, adding that “excess” crowds would not be allowed.

He also said the participants must not carry any form of weapons, cooperate during spot checks and that the crowd should disperse within an hour after the verdict was delivered.

The rally is planned to coincide with the court decision in the high-profile sodomy case of Opposition Leader and PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar, 64, is charged with sodomising former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at a condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

On Thursday, Inspector-Gene-ral of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said the organisers had been asked to meet the city police chief to discuss whether the gathering should be held at another location instead of in front of the court complex.

Anwar told a ceramah last night that the court’s decision was secondary and the most important thing was for Pakatan Rakyat to win the general election.

In PUTRAJAYA, the Alliance of Non-governmental Organisations Malaysia and several individuals have lodged police reports against the rally.

Its secretary Mohd Jurit Ramli urged the authorities to take action against the organisers on grounds that the gathering would be an insult to the country’s judiciary.

The group, comprising some 50 NGO leaders, lodged 45 reports against the gathering.

Related posts:

Malaysia’s Anwar’s Sodomy Verdict D-Day 901; So near, yet so far?

 Politician, hero or zero? RPK hits back at critics!

  Malaysia’s Anwar walking a tightrope! He should resign

China warns US on Asia military strategy

President Obama: “The tide of war is receding”

China’s state media have warned the US against “flexing its muscles” after Washington unveiled a defence review switching focus to the Asia-Pacific..

In an editorial, official news agency Xinhua said President Barack Obama’s move to increase US presence in the region could come as a welcome boost to stability and prosperity.

But it said any US militarism could create ill will and “endanger peace”.

Mr Obama also plans $450bn (£290bn) in cuts to create a “leaner” military.

Thousands of troops are expected to be axed over the next decade under the far-reaching defence review.

The defence budget could also lose another $500bn at the end of this year after Congress failed to agree on deficit reduction following a debt-ceiling deal in August 2011.

Mr Obama said the “tide of war was receding” in Afghanistan and that the US must renew its economic power.

Regional disputes

However, he told reporters at the Pentagon: “We’ll be strengthening our presence in the Asia-Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region.”

Xinhua said the US role could be good for China in helping to secure the “peaceful environment” it needed to continue its economic development.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on the new challenges for the US military

But it added: “While boosting its military presence in the Asia-Pacific, the United States should abstain from flexing its muscles, as this won’t help solve regional disputes.

“If the United States indiscreetly applies militarism in the region, it will be like a bull in a china shop, and endanger peace instead of enhancing regional stability.”

BBC Asia analyst Charles Scanlon said the US decision to focus on Asia would have come as no surprise to China’s leaders. However, to some in Beijing, it would look like a containment strategy designed to curtail China’s growing power.

Beijing officials have yet to comment.

However, the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper said Washington could not stop the rise of China and called on Beijing to develop more long-range strike weapons to deter the US navy.

‘Flexible and ready’

The US strategy shifts the Pentagon away from its long-standing doctrine of being able to wage two wars simultaneously.

However, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta emphasised the military would retain its ability to confront more than one threat at a time, and would be more flexible and adaptable than in the past.

Mr Obama said: “The world must know – the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”

No specific cuts to troop numbers or weapons programmes were announced on Thursday – those are to be presented as part of the federal budget next month.

But a 10-15% reduction to the US Army and the Marine Corps is being considered over the next decade – amounting to tens of thousands of troops, Obama administration officials have told US media.

Initial Republican reaction to the review was negative. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, California Representative Howard McKeon, said the new policy was a “retreat from the world in the guise of a new strategy”.

“This is a lead-from-behind strategy for a left-behind America,” he said in a statement.


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