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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #305: August 2, 2005

Don't Get Too Close to Beijing

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Don't Get Too Close to Beijing
(Paul Dibb) The Australian


The article is by a well-respected Australian commentator who advises his government to be careful of getting too close to China at the cost of distancing itself from other more important allies. The article denounces a comment by Robert Hill, the Defense Minister of Australia, upon recently visiting China, saying that he saw China's expanding military expenditure as a process of modernization, not destabilization. It then goes on to say, "As important as Australia's relations are with China, our relationship with Japan is much more important."

The fundamental reason for the author of the article to warn caution in dealing with China is that China is an authoritarian regime, where a small clique in the Communist Party continues to repress any challenges to its monopoly on political power, and where people have no freedom - and Australia could not have strategic partnership with that kind of country.

In more specific terms, the article points out that the best estimate of China's "real" military expenditure - as the "formal" figure announced by China is known to be rigged - is more than US$56 billion annually, which brings China the third largest in the world, next to the U.S. and Russia.

In fact, other analyses on China's military budget concur with, or often supersede, this estimate. While the official figure of announced by the China's government for 2004 was 25 billion dollars, the real amount is estimated to be in the range of 3 to 5 times this.

Japan's Defense Agency has just publicized the annual Defense White Paper for 2005. There is a chapter discussing China's military powers where it says China's official military budget has doubled during the past 5 years - actually, it has increased for 17 years at the annual rate of more than 10% - but the official figure still represents only a fraction of the real military expenditure. The report notes the intrusion of a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine into Japan's waters off Okinawa islands and recent activities by its destroyers near the Senkaku Islands, and warns that China is likely on its way to build a deepwater navy capable of operating in the open seas, currently possible only by the U.S. Navy. The paper expresses concerns as to whether "China's military modernization supersedes the levels necessary to defend the land."

Japanese people are generally wary of China's increasing military powers. The basic reason is the same as that described in the article introduced above. China is not a democratic society. It is run under the Communist Party dictatorship. China's rise may indeed be peaceful, but still, to the extent its way of running the country differs from ours - and they do so behind closed doors, it seems only prudent to keep a careful eye on its doings.

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