DNI on China

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Di­rec­tor of Na­tional Intelligence Michael McCon­nell weighed in on the de­bate over the threat from a ris­ing China last week and ap­pears to fa­vor the soft-line approach fa­vored by Tom Fin­gar, the deputy di- rec­tor for anal­y­sis.

Mr. McCon­nell said there are mul­ti­ple schools of thought on China that “tend to take on a po­lit­i­cal fla­vor.”

“There are some who want to paint China as the next Soviet Union or Rus­sia, and there are some that want to em­brace China as a mar­ket, not only a provider of goods and ser­vices to us but that raise our stan­dard of liv­ing by re­duc­ing cost to us, but pro­vide a huge mar­ket for the United States,” he said.

Mr. McCon­nell said his view tends to­ward the eco­nomic side, not­ing that China will be the “No. 1” largest econ­omy in the next 20 years.

China’s ma­jor prob­lem, he said, is “in­ter­nal sta­bil­ity,” some­thing most com­mu­nist regimes have not had much trou­ble han­dling, whether through se­cret po­lice or as in China’s case, the bloody 1989 crack­down by mil­i­tary forces on un­armed pro­test­ers in Bei­jing’s Tianan­men Square.

As for China’s rapid mil­i­tary buildup of long-range mis­siles, sub­marines and space weapons, “I would char­ac­ter­ize it, for the most part, while it has of­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties, for the most part right now, it is de­fen­sive, and their prin­ci­ple fo­cus is on Tai­wan, bring­ing Tai­wan into China, and the abil­ity to have ac­cess to nat­u­ral re­sources.”

China is build­ing deep-sea naval forces that ap­pear de­signed to ac­quire en­ergy re­sources, he said.

“So it’s some­thing we’ll watch very closely,” Mr. McCon­nell said, not­ing that “China will be prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant na­tion to the United States” in the com­ing years.

Bill Gertz cov­ers the Pen­tagon. He can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at bgertz@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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