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DOD Report Highlights Administration Incoherence on China

Posted By Dean Cheng On August 25, 2011 @ 4:51 pm In Security | Comments Disabled

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August 18, 2011, Beijing, China: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is welcomed by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Whether it is the delayed release of the 2011 Department of Defense (DOD) report on Chinese military and security developments or Vice President Joe Biden’s statements regarding Chinese human rights, it is becoming clear that the Obama Administration has an utterly incoherent view of the People’s Republic of China.

Biden apparently sees his statement (“Your policy has been one which I fully understand—I’m not second-guessing—of one child per family”) as actually arguing against the Chinese policy. Similarly, even as the Administration was signaling, just before the Vice President’s trip, that it was not going to sell Taiwan badly needed F-16 C/Ds to replace obsolete F-5s in the Taiwan inventory, the interagency process was concluding that the Chinese military is still focused on a Taiwan contingency and “is likely to steadily expand its military options for Taiwan, including those to deter, delay, or deny third party intervention.”

This latter aspect is especially disturbing, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Schiffer, in the DOD press briefing on the report, went to great pains to emphasize that the report reflects “the views and perspectives that are held broadly by the U.S. government.” So, despite a broad view within the U.S. government that the Chinese military is modernizing across a range of capabilities, is intent upon challenging the ability of the U.S. to support friends and allies, and is focused on the use of force across the Taiwan Straits, the Administration nonetheless does not see fit to provide Taiwan with modern systems to replace obsolete ones.

Of course, this is the same Administration whose Secretary of Defense had confidently predicted that the Chinese would not be fielding advanced fighter aircraft for at least a decade and had derided the need for as many U.S. aircraft carriers—even as the Chinese were developing the J-20 stealthy fighter and preparing their own aircraft carrier for launch.

So perhaps it is less incoherent and more simply mistaken?

That would be a position that perhaps many Americans would “fully understand” and “not second guess.”


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