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'China's military build-up is alarming'

July 24, 2010 13:41 IST

Expressing alarm over rapid Chinese military build up which they say threatens to challenge US freedom of action in space, cyberspace, at sea and in the air, influential US lawmakers want Pentagon to file a report to the US Congress on Beijing's growing military might.

"China's extensive military build-up is alarming," said five Republican Senators, John Cornyn, John McCain, James Risch, Pat Roberts and James Inhofe in a letter to Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

"The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has undertaken a military modernisation programme, supported by a military budget that has experienced double-digit-percentage annual increases for more than two decades," they said.

The Senators alleged that the Pentagon has failed to submit a report to the Congress on the military power of China as mandated by the 2000 National Defence Authorisation Act.

The Defence Department's annual Chinese military power report informs Congress on the true nature of the extent of Beijing's rapidly growing military capabilities and military strategies.

"With the Chinese military power report now almost five months overdue, we ask that you submit it to Congress immediately and provide an explanation as to the significant delay," they said.

"Continued delay would further hinder Congress' ability to fully and accurately understand the potential threat that China's rapidly expanding military poses to US national security," the Senators said.

The letter from the Senators come on the heels of comments by top most US military commanders expressing concern over China flexing its muscles over territorial claims on disputed islands in the south China specially Spratly Islands.

The views of the Senators also coincide with concern over Chinese military build up projected by the US Defence Department's Annual Report on Chinese military power.

The report said China presently had the most active land based ballistic and cruise missile programme in the world. It also said that Beijing was developing and testing offensive missile, raising up new missile units, upgrading existing missiles and trying to develop an anti-missile system.

At sea, the report said China after successfully inducting nuclear submarines was trying to develop anti-ship ballistic missiles and new submarine-launched ballistic missiles that "would provide China its first credible sea-based nuclear strike capability."

The report also took notice of moves by Beijing to acquire an aircraft carrier and Su-33 carrier-borne fighters from Russia.

The Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in a paper, said China "appears to be purposefully developing and fielding offensive military capabilities that challenge US freedom of action in all domains -- space, cyberspace, at sea and in the air. Chinese military writings strongly support this proposition."

Beijing is developing an anti-ship ballistic missile as part of its anti-access strategy that "is intended to provide the PLA the capability to attack ships at sea, including aircraft carriers, in the western Pacific Ocean."

Furthermore, two new Shang-class nuclear-powered submarines and a unit of Song-class diesel-electric attack submarines were recently put into service.

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