Foreign Policy in Focus

Myths and Realities of
China's Military Power
By Thomas Bickford

Key Points
· Despite 17.7% rise in its defense budget in 2001 and recent arms purchases, China's military capabilities remain limited and will be limited for some time to come.
· China is reacting to what it sees as a much more aggressive foreign policy from the United States. The Chinese view themselves as being threatened. Bullying China is counterproductive and fuels mutual misperceptions.
· There is a danger that the US and China could easily stumble into a confrontation that neither wants

Key Problems
· Washington is moving away from its policy of deliberate ambiguity toward Taiwan's defenses. This limits future US options and increases the possibility that the US and China will stumble into a crisis.
· US perceptions tend to exaggerate the extent of Chinese Capabilities.
· US policy on TMD and NMD has the potential to be destabilizing

Key Recommendations
· The US needs to be more aware of how its activities are percieved by the Chinese and must avoid treating China with disrespect
· Washington should maintain exchanges between Chinese and US armed forces and should support other confidence building measures.
· Washington must maintain a better balance of relations with all Asian nations and not let concerns over Taiwan outweigh other interests

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