Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pentagon urges China to explain military buildup

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China's rapid military modernization has altered Asia-Pacific military balances and could pose threats to other forces, the Pentagon said on Tuesday in an annual report that repeated U.S. calls for the Chinese to explain the purpose of their build-up.

The 2006 China Military Power Report said China's military build-up retained its long-standing focus on rival Taiwan but that years of double-digit growth in arms spending gave it the ability to project power further afield.

"Long-term trends in China's strategic nuclear forces modernization, land- and sea-based access and denial capabilities, and emerging precision-strike weapons have the potential to pose credible threats to modern militaries operating in the region," said the report's executive summary.

The Pentagon has been raising alarms over China's military modernization for several years, and the United States has been joined by Japan in calling for China's communist rulers to be more open about military budgets and policy.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon in a new long-range strategy blueprint called China the rising power with the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States. It recommended new long-range weapons and a greater military presence in the Pacific.

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