China State Media Cautious on New U.S. Defense Plan
BEIJING - China's official Xinhua news agency said Jan. 6 it welcomed a bigger U.S. presence in Asia, but only if it helped promote peace in the region, after President Barack Obama unveiled a new military strategy.
The plan calls for the U.S. military to strengthen its presence in Asia and prepare for possible challenges from countries such as China, while downplaying future huge counter-insurgency campaigns such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beijing has given no official response to the review, but Xinhua said Jan. 6 that the United States was welcome to make "more contribution to peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region", while urging it against "warmongering".
"The U.S. role, if fulfilled with a positive attitude and free from a Cold War-style zero-sum mentality, will not only be conducive to regional stability and prosperity, but be good for China," it said in a comment piece.
"However, while boosting its military presence in the Asia Pacific, the United States should abstain from flexing its muscles," it added. "If the United States indiscreetly applies militarism in the region, it will be like a bull in a china shop, and endanger peace instead of enhancing regional stability."
The United States is increasingly focusing its attention on the Asia-Pacific region, where commanders worry about China's growing military power.
The People's Liberation Army is the world's largest active military, and is extremely secretive about its defense programs, which benefit from a huge and expanding military budget.
In November, Obama went on a week-long tour of the Pacific in a bid to enhance the role of the United States in the region, positioning Marines in northern Australia and pushing for a trans-Pacific trade pact.
Shortly afterwards, China announced it would conduct routine naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean, in what some saw as a symbolic move aimed at the United States. Meanwhile, the Global Times - an official, nationalistic daily newspaper - accused the United States of trying to contain China and called on Beijing to "strengthen its long-range strike abilities and put more deterrence on the U.S."
"The U.S. must realize that it cannot stop the rise of China and that being friendly to China is in its utmost interests," it said in en editorial.
The new U.S. strategy unveiled Jan. 5 calls for a leaner military, and also focuses on preventing Iran from securing nuclear weapons.