China poised to attain superpower status: US intelligence czar


Feb 28 1:44 PM US/Eastern – Copyright Agence France Presse
The US Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, warned that
China’s steady military and economic expansion may ultimately lead to
Beijing attaining superpower status on a par with the United States.
“Globalization is causing a shift of momentum and energy to greater
Asia, where China has steadily expanding reach and may become a peer
competitor to the United States at some point,” Negroponte said at a
hearing of the US Senate Armed Services Committee on global security
“Consistent high rates of economic growth, driven by exploding foreign
trade, have increased Beijing’s political influence abroad and fueled a
military modernization program that has steadily increased Beijing’s
force projection capabilities,” the US intelligence czar said.
In the foreign policy domain, China is focused for now on other Asian
nations “where Beijing hopes to make economic inroads to increase
political influence and to prevent a backlash against its rise,” said
But he suggested however that China’s sphere of influence likely will
broaden over time.
“Beijing also has expanded diplomatic and economic interaction with
other major powers, especially Russia and the European Union, and begun
to increase its presence in Africa and Latin America,” he said.
On the military front, Negroponte noted that China is “vigorously”
pursuing a modernization program of its weapons systems.
China’s runaway economic expansion is slowed however by “a number of
difficult economic and legal problems,” including corruption, a faulty
education system, and environmental degradation.
“Beijing’s biggest challenge is to sustain growth, sufficient to keep
unemployment and rural discontent from rising to destabilizing levels,
and to maintain increases in living standards,” said Negroponte.
“Indeed, China’s rise may be hobbled by systemic problems and the
Communist Party’s resistance to demands for political participation that
economic growth generates,” he said.
“Beijing’s determination to repress real or perceived challenges, from
dispossessed peasants to religious organizations, could lead to serious
instability at home and less effective policies abroad.”
At the same hearing, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency,
Lieutenant General Michael Maples, said China’s military wishlist
includes efforts “to expand and modernize all categories of its
ballistic missile forces, to increase survivability and war-fighting
capabilities, to enhance their deterrence value and to overcome
ballistic missile defenses.”
Michael Hayden, the deputy director of national security, said China’s
military buildup may exceed what is needed to protect their own
security, and may be designed to build the country’s image at home and
“They have this perception, there’s almost a momentum in Chinese
thinking, that great powers — and they clearly want to be viewed as a
great power — great powers need certain things.
“They’re not necessarily tied to a specific military event, either
proposed or expected, but simply become the trappings of — I’ll use the
word — their global legitimacy.
“It’s one of the most fascinating aspects in looking at Chinese
actions,” Hayden added.
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Copyright AFP 2005

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