Friend Or Foe? -- Inside China's Military

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
March 2, 2008 By Jonathan Karl
JUJU CHANG: Now, an ABC News exclusive. This week, there were reports that the US is hooking up a military hotline directly to China. It says a lot about the fastest growing military in the world.
ABC's national security correspondent Jonathan Karl got an unprecedented look at China's secretive military machine.
JONATHAN KARL: China, friend or foe? It may be the most important question of the 21st century. And that is where Admiral Timothy Keating comes in. He's the commander of US forces in the Pacific. His most important job? Keeping an eye on China and making a few friends in the process.
ADMIRAL TIMOTHY J. KEATING (Commander,U.S. Pacific Command) (To Chinese official): It's my pleasure.
KARL: ABC News went along with Admiral Keating on a recent trip to China. It was an unprecedented opportunity to get behind the scenes.
This building is called the Bayi. It's basically the Chinese Pentagon, headquarters for the military, an organization that in China is so secretive that until recently it didn't even have a published phone number, and even now doesn't have a spokesman.
Inside the Bayi, we did something that is almost never done in China. We asked a top general, the chief of staff, some questions.
KARL: (To Chinese official) Should the United States have anything to fear from China's military build-up?
(Chinese Spoken)
KARL:'That's impossible, isn't it?" He says. 'There is such a big gap between our military and the American military. If you say you are afraid, it means you don't have enough courage." In fact, even by the Pentagon's estimates, China spends only about one quarter of what the US spends on defense.
But China's military is growing every bit as fast as its economy, some analysts say the quickest military build-up in history.
KEATING: The Chinese military is developing impressive capabilities. We are watching carefully.
KARL: The problem? The Chinese military is so secretive, it's impossible to know what they are up to. That is why Keating is traveling throughout the country, getting to know the generals.
We're flying right now on a Chinese military aircraft. It's highly unusual for a journalist, especially an American journalist, to be flying on one of their airplanes. But the Chinese have insisted that when Admiral Keating is flying over Chinese airspace that he take one of their airplanes.
It's an odd sight, Chinese and American officials flying around together. It's Chinese hospitality, but it's also a chance for them to keep an eye on the Admiral while he's in their country.
KEATING: Quite firm that we, we fly on their airplane inside their territorial airspace, understandable.
KARL: Back on the ground, Admiral Keating bids farewell to China's top commander in the South. As he does, he makes an extraordinary offer.
KEATING (To Chinese official): If there's anything I can do, personal, professional basis, to help you in your job, please contact me directly.
KARL: If this Admiral has anything to say about it, China will be friend, not foe. For 'Good Morning America," Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Guangzhou, China.