U.S. Official Notes China Military Gains

September 30th, 2007  

Topic: U.S. Official Notes China Military Gains

U.S. Official Notes China Military Gains

By ERIC TALMADGE 19 hours ago
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AP) While the U.S. has been tied up in Iraq, China is modernizing its military and its air defenses are now nearly impenetrable to all but the newest of American fighters, the senior U.S. military official in Japan said.
Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of the roughly 50,000 U.S. forces in Japan, Washington's biggest ally in Asia, said in an interview with The Associated Press this week that the Iraq war is reducing the availability of U.S. troops and equipment to meet other contingencies.
It's also eating funds that could go toward replacing or upgrading planes that are being pushed to their operational limits, he said.
China, meanwhile, is rapidly filling the skies with newer, Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27 "Flankers" and Su-30s, along with the domestically built J-10, a state-of-the-art fighter that Beijing just rolled out in January.
China has also improved its ballistic missile defenses and its ability to take the fight into space as it proved in January by shooting down an old weather satellite at an orbital height similar to that used by the U.S. military.
Wright stressed he is "positive" about the current efforts to increase diplomatic and political engagement with Beijing. But he said the Chinese military buildup is disconcerting.
China says spending for its People's Liberation Army, the world's largest standing army with 2.3 million members, grew 17.8 percent this year to nearly $45 billion.
The Pentagon estimates China's actual defense spending may be much higher, because the official budget does not include money for high-priced weapons systems and some other items.

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