Sunday, September 07, 2008

China, Russia military expansion threats hit

Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008

Japan remains vigilant of China's growing military power, including its development of an antisatellite laser, but is less apprehensive than last year about Beijing's stand against Taiwan, according to an annual defense review released Friday.

The Defense of Japan 2008, endorsed Friday by the Cabinet, also expresses caution about Russia's military activities around Japan and refers to the possibility of North Korea developing downsized nuclear warheads in a short time span.

In the wake of scandals involving the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces since last year, the 425-page report devotes 22 pages to describing reform measures.

On China, the report repeats a call for more transparency on the country's military spending. China's published defense expenditures have marked double-digit year-to-year growth for 20 years in a row, with the fiscal 2008 budget totaling around 409.9 billion yuan (about $60 billion). The growth during this period translates into "a pace that nearly doubles every five years," the report says.

It argues that the priority in China's military modernization is to acquire the capability to deter Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province, from seeking independence, and also to deter "foreign military forces" from providing support to Taiwan. The report, however, waters down the rhetoric on these reiterated points compared with the 2007 report.

The 2008 review offers for the first time detailed references to China's growing military capabilities in space, including the reported development of a laser aimed at disabling satellites. It also mentions reported Chinese drills against cyber attacks.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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