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US warned not to ignore China's military advances
The United States must prepare an effective strategy to face China's rising military power and not freeze at the Asian giant "like a deer in the proverbial headlights," a new study warned Wednesday.
Beijing's rapid technological advances mean that the United States "must plan seriously" for its development of weapons of greater complexity and power, said the study by the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based conservative think tank.
The report, entitled "China's New Great Leap Forward: High Technology and Military Power in the Next Half-Century," warned that the US government is too preoccupied with its "war on terror" and democratization of the Middle East and Central Asia.
Meanwhile, Washington is ignoring China's emergence as a top competitor to US technological leadership.
Since the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks, the United States has largely focused on the "cunning, soul-less but essentially low-tech predator: the terrorist," the study said.
"Yet those other realms of warfare that occupied us prior to 9/11 -- information, naval, and above all aerospace -- still constitute the nucleus of the new RMA (revolution in military affairs)," it said.
"If we neglect the timely development of weaponry in these arenas, then China could catch America like a deer in the proverbial headlights -- precisely where we caught them after the 1991 victory in Desert Storm."
The American use of surgical bombing and electromagnetic warfare in the Gulf War in 1991 "dramatically demonstrated" the huge chasm between China and the United States in modern weapons systems, the report said.
The gap was further displayed in 1996 when two US aircraft carrier battle groups off the coast of Taiwan upstaged Chinese missile exercises with flight combat maneuvers and the monitoring of Chinese military activities on the ground, it said.
The first Iraq War sparked a revamp of the Chinese military, which at that time was "at least 20 years out of date across the board," noted the study.
But the ensuing changes comprised the "greatest, deepest and broadest global military transformation that has ever occurred in mankind's history," said the 95-page report.
The report was unveiled at the US Congress Wednesday, with a legislator from President George W. Bush's Republican party warning that Washington could not afford to shrug off the Chinese military threat.
Senator Norm Coleman said China's "proliferation of massive numbers of scientists, mathematicians and engineers will have major impact on lessening America's edge in high technology, telecommunications, computing and weaponry, and this challenge cannot be ignored."
After reading the report, the Senator said the biggest perceived military threat posed by China was on the naval front.
"America has the responsibility for ensuring the openness of shipping lanes. And so I think that's the one area where there is probably most vulnerability as one looks into the not-too-distant future," he said.
The report said the United States must be prepared to fight the "war of complex technologies -- information warfare, space warfare, deep-sea warfare, and the less exotic but still vital arena of air superiority -- that China may very well decide to fight against us."
Otherwise, it warned, the United States "may face the real prospect" of being unable to execute military operations in Asia with relative ease.
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