DNI on China
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 email@example.com.