Re­tired of­fi­cers call for curb­ing China’s power

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY SEAN LENGELL

China’s bur­geon­ing mil­i­tary poses a sig­nif­i­cant se­cu­rity threat to South­east Asia and be­yond un­less quickly coun­ter­bal­anced by the U.S. and its al­lies, said sev­eral re­tired mil­i­tary of­fi­cers Mon­day at a Washington sym­po­sium.

That threat could hit global wa­ters in as soon as 10 years, Yoji Koda, a re­tired vice ad­mi­ral with the Ja­pan Mar­itime Self-de­fense Force, said at The Washington Times Foun­da­tion-spon­sored event at the Capi­tol.

“The U.S. may be shadow-box­ing against an elu­sive threat to them . . . [but] to­day is not the time to shadow-box,” said Adm. Koda, who was a se­nior fel­low at the Har­vard Univer­sity Asia Cen­ter. “The U.S., Ja­pan and South Korea must be ready and to­gether pre­pare for the grow­ing Chi­nese threat 10 to 20 years from now.”

Be­cause China’s long-range nu­clear mis­sile ca­pa­bil­ity doesn’t match that of the U.S., it re­lies heav­ily on mo­bile war­ships as po­ten­tial launch sites for nu­clear weapons, he said.

“The role of China’s navy is much larger than that of the United States,” he said.

China also is beef­ing up its naval pres­ence in Africa and South Amer­ica as a way to ex­pand its global in­flu­ence, Adm. Koda said.

“That’s the fron­tier for China,” he said. “To ex­er­cise its in­flu­ence and also to gain a vic­tory over the nat­u­ral re­sources com­pe­ti­tion in Africa, China needs a navy.”

Pa­trick M. Walsh, a re­tired U.S. Navy ad­mi­ral who com­manded the U.S. Pa­cific Fleet from 2009 to 2012 and was a vice chief of naval op­er­a­tions, warned that China’s po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and mil­i­tary ex­pan­sion will be both “dra­matic and trau­matic.”

The grow­ing pro­cure­ment of war­ships by na­tions through­out South­east Asia — in­clud­ing China’a re­cent in­ten­tions to pur­chase air­craft car­ri­ers — chal­lenges se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion, he said.

Adm. Walsh added that China’s mil­len­nia-old con­flicts with its neigh­bors and its sense of his­tory make the arms race in the Pa­cific Rim dif­fer­ent than those in the Mid­dle East.

“This is not an ide­ol­ogy, this is the na­tion-state con­cept com­ing in to di­rect con­tact and col­li­sion with a coun­try that views it­self as a civ­i­liza­tion,” he said

Adm. Walsh also warned against viewing China and other South­east Asian na­tions as only eco­nomic part­ners.

“It’s eas­ily to ra­tio­nal­ize some­thing as be­ing too far in the fu­ture to be wor­ried about,” he said. “Look­ing at eco­nom­ics as a sole in­di­ca­tor of na­tional in­ter­ests and roles will bring you to just ig­no­rant one-di­men­sional con­clu­sions.”

Kook Jin Moon, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Saeilo En­ter­prises and Tongil Group, called on the U.S. and demo­cratic na­tions world­wide to band to­gether to keep China’s mil­i­tary in check.

“China has never used its power to ben­e­fit oth­ers; China has used its power to ben­e­fit China,” he said. “This has been its his­tory.”

The event also was spon­sored by the Asia Pa­cific Peace Ini­tia­tive and the Project 2049 In­sti­tute.

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