A US commission on bilateral relations with China has warned that the country’s fast-growing military may pose a threat to US security, while urging Congress to assess whether America’s involvement in the region diminishes its own military capabilities.
“The military capabilities China is developing will expand or improve the ability of the People’s Liberation Army to conduct a range of externally focused operations [and] strengthen China’s traditional war-fighting capabilities against weaker neighbors. Given its enhanced strategic lift capability, strengthened employment of special operations forces, increasing capabilities of surface vessels and aircraft, and more frequent and sophisticated experience operating abroad, China may also be more inclined to use force to protect its interests.
China’s pursuit of expeditionary capabilities, coupled with the aggressive trends that have been displayed in both the East and South China seas, are compounding existing concerns about China’s rise among US allies and partners in the greater Asia,” states a lengthy annual report from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which was submitted to the US Congress on Wednesday. After detailing the spheres in which China has been improving its capabilities, the report recommends that the Defense Department look more closely into the “gains and risks” to the US resulting from its participation in the fate of the region.
“[The Commission recommends that] Congress require the US Department of Defense to conduct a study identifying the risks and gains associated with the United States pursuing a burden sharing strategy that utilizes emerging People’s Liberation Army expeditionary capabilities to help stabilize the Asia Pacific region during a crisis or to counter a shared threat such as the spread of terrorism in Southeast Asia,” the report urges.
It also advises the Defense Department to assess the US’ own military capabilities to see if they measure up to China’s and would be sufficient if China “uses force.”
“[It] should also detail the national security implications of a diminished domestic industrial base (including assessing any impact on US military readiness), compromised US military supply chains, and reduced capability to manufacture state-of-the-art military systems and equipment,” it said.