Sunday, November 19, 2006

U.S. Concerned about Rising China

By ANNE GEARAN, The Associated Press, Friday, November 17, 2006

HANOI, Vietnam -- The United States has some concerns about a rising China, including a military expansion that may be excessive, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.

Beijing has spent heavily in recent years on adding submarines, missiles, fighter planes and other high-tech weapons to its arsenal and extending the reach of the 2.3 million-member People's Liberation Army, the world's largest fighting force.

Its reported military budget rose more than 14 percent this year to $35.3 billion, but outside estimates of China's true spending are up to three times that level.

Beijing insists its multibillion-dollar buildup is defensive, but it has alarmed some Asian neighbors and U.S. military planners who see China as a potential threat to U.S. military pre-eminence in the Pacific.

U.S. concerns are manageable within a relationship she described as strong overall, Rice said. She visited China last month to shore up United Nations sanctions against China's ally, North Korea, and she credited Beijing with cooperation in opposing the North's nuclear development.

Bush and Rice were both meeting with their Chinese counterparts during this weekend's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.