DOD Asia Policy Nominee Encourages Close Watch on China
DOD Asia Policy Nominee
Encourages Close Watch on China
By Nick Simeone, American Forces
Washington D.C. – (AFPS)
– February 25, 2014 – The man nominated to be the Defense Department’s top
policy official for the Asia-Pacific region said today he believes the United
States must do more than just watch and analyze China’s military, and he called
for encouraging Taiwan to develop a defense force capable of thwarting Beijing’s
efforts to coerce its rival.
“We are paying particular attention to Chinese investments in
technology development, as well as what they are fielding,” David Shear said in
written answers to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is
considering his nomination to be assistant secretary of defense for Asia and
Pacific security affairs, adding that it’s also necessary to understand what is
shaping those investments.
He pointed to work by the Defense Department’s Minerva
Initiative, designed to help assess future security challenges, which he said
can help defense officials understand the social, cultural and historical
factors driving China’s strategic priorities.
While Shear said Washington welcomes the rise of a peaceful
China, the growth of the Chinese military remains a concern, especially
Beijing’s investments in technology. He described China’s increasing defense
spending as part of a long-term military modernization program lacking
transparency but aimed at winning high-intensity, short-duration regional
conflicts, primarily focused on Taiwan.
His answers were largely echoed by Robert Work, nominated to
be deputy secretary of defense, who appeared at the same confirmation hearing.
Shear described Sino-U.S. relations as having elements of
both competition and cooperation, saying he believes the United States should
remain the pre-eminent military power in the Asia-Pacific -- two years after the
United States announced a military rebalance to the region. But getting the
relationship with China right “will be critical to the future of U.S. national
security, as well as international security, for decades to come,” he said.
Relations between Washington and Beijing are often affected
by U.S. ties to Taiwan, and if confirmed, Shear said, he would urge Taiwan to
increase its defense budget to 3 percent of its gross domestic product, while at
the same time the United States would continue providing Taiwan with what the
island needs to maintain its defense, telling the committee “our priority should
be to assist Taiwan in implementing an asymmetric and innovative defense
strategy to deter aggression from China.” Doing so, he said, would be consistent
with the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, in which the United States committed to
Taiwan’s self-defense capability.
In addition, Shear said the United States will continue to
assert its right to conduct military operations in the East China Sea in an area
where China has unilaterally declared an air defense identification zone in
response to an ongoing dispute with Japan over contested islands. “If confirmed,
I would support the DOD position that China’s announced ADIZ will not change how
the United States conducts military operations in the region.”
On North Korea, Shear said leader Kim Jong Un remains
unpredictable, pointing out last year’s execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek,
a key figure who was considered a mentor to the young leader, in what was widely
reported as a power struggle over the control of exports.
Work, in his answers to committee questions, said “my
understanding is that Kim Jong Un remains in full control and is consolidating
his power.” A strong possibility exists of more North Korean provocations, he
added, as Pyongyang attempts to coerce the United States back into negotiations
on its own terms.
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