Pentagon Report is a familiar old song

China Military Online
Zhang Tao

BEIJING, June 8 (ChinaMil) --The US Department of Defense issued a 106-page report titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2017" on Tuesday. This is the 17th report of its kind by the United States. However, this annual report this year was released far behind the scheduled January 31 deadline.

The framework and structure of the report are no different from those in previous years, full of clichés in exaggeration and criticism about China’s normal military development. The way of thinking behind also carried forward the arrogance and prejudice as ever.

First, hyping the territorial and maritime rights disputes between China and its neighbors. The report has carefully recorded the conflicts between China and its neighbors in 2016 with ulterior motives, although many of which have long been settled through peaceful and bilateral approaches.

Second, subjectively assuming invisible military spending in China. The report accused the high growth in China's military spending while implying the multiple sources of China’s military funds including investment of the national defense industry, science and technology R&D funds, and input in military-civilian technologies.

Third, slandering China, saying China taking advantage of international military technical cooperation, arms procurement, academic exchanges and network activities to steal foreign advanced technologies and important parts. The report has ulterior motives to accuse China’s military industry system and defames China that China obtains foreign advanced technologies in the name of civilian purposes.

Fourth, distorting China's normal foreign military exchanges into an "expansion" act for the purpose of expanding military presence and spheres of influence. In this report, China's active participation in peacekeeping, escort, anti-terrorism, disaster relief and provision of other international public security services are misrepresented into China’s intentions to conveniently purchase advanced weaponry systems, accumulate overseas combat experience, and "steal" military combat and procedures of foreign militaries. Normal military diplomatic programs such as personnel mutual-visits and academic exchanges are said to be for observing the military command structures, troop formations and combat trainings of foreign militaries.

Although the report lists highlights in high-level visits, exchanges on systems and between institutions, ship visits, joint training and drills among other aspects between the US and China militaries last year, it exercises great care in stressing that all these communication activities are within the scope regulated in the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2000.

This shows that there are still many forces in the United States opposing exchanges between China and the United States, and the toughness of resistance is not only an outstanding feature of Sino-US military relations in 2016, but will also become a “new normal” of the relationship between the two militaries.

Upon his assumption of duty, Donald Trump approved and issued a Presidential Memorandum on the "Reconstruction of the US Armed Forces" and the plan to "Defeat the Islamic State", requiring the US Department of Defense to revise the defense budget for the 2017 fiscal year, formulate the budget for the 2018 fiscal year, update the national security strategy, complete the evaluation of combat readiness, draft a new version of Nuclear Posture Review, update the Ballistic Missile Defense Review report, and come up with a whole “Defeat the Islamic State" package.

Bombarded with so many tasks, the US Department of Defense is clearly inadequate. This belated report did not even mention the latest achievements of the Xi Jinping-Trump meeting in Mar-a-Lago. On the contrary, the already-canceled Strategic Security Dialogue under the Strategic and Economic Dialogue framework was impressively listed.

Another interesting detail is that the United States used to organize a backgrounder before releasing the annual report in previous years. However, this year the meeting was replaced by a quiet post on the website of the US Department of Defense.

From the Trump administration perspective, this may be because the new administrative group has not yet been fully established, the Asia-Pacific policy is far from taking shape, and their internal opinions on the development of Sino-US military relations are not unified. From the US Department of Defense perspective, they may also feel boring singing the familiar old song again and again.

Written by Zhao Weibin from the PLA Academy of Military Sciences.


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