Saturday, July 07, 2007

Chinese Weapons Appearing in Bad Places

It's worth paying attention to, but encouraging that the State Department does not believe China is intentionally shipping weapons to our enemies:

A senior US official recently told the FT that Iran appeared to be providing the Chinese-made weapons. He said Washington had no evidence that Beijing was complicit, but stressed that the US would like China to “do a better job of policing these sales”. Mr Lawless said the question of origin was less important than who was facilitating the transfer.

More importantly, it seems that while the US side understands our interest in a better understanding of the Chinese military, China has been reluctant to exchange information:

Mr Lawless said the US military relationship with China was “overall, not bad”, but there was a need for more engagement between the militaries, particularly at the senior levels. “They have been more willing to engage, but it is in millimetres and increments,” he said.

He said the Pentagon was disappointed that China had not given Admiral Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, the same kind of access that his Chinese counterpart received during a visit to the US. Adm Mullen, who has since been nominated as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ended up not visiting China...

“There is a great shortfall in our understanding of China’s intentions,” said Mr Lawless, referring to the overall Chinese military build-up. “When you don’t know why they are doing it, it is pretty damn threatening . . . they leave us no choice but to assume the worst.”

The Chinese reluctance is undoubtedly attributable at least partly to their difficulty in figuring out what we want from them. We want assistance on a range of security issues and profess friendship, while we reject their investments in the West and criticize their exports and currency policies. It's not quite love/hate, but it is complex.

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