04 June 2012

Gabe Collins: 12 Things Missing from China Report

Gabe Collins offers his personal perspective concerning the latest annual Pentagon report on China’s military.

Gabe Collins, “12 Things Missing from China Report,” The Diplomat, 1 June 2012.

The latest version of the Pentagon’s report on China’s military rise was disappointing. There’s plenty that has been missed out.

The progressive neutering of the annual Pentagon China military power reports is unfortunate, as the report has been among the most authoritative sources of information on specific Chinese military capabilities in recent years. Given the People’s Liberation Army’s unwillingness to reveal this information itself, the report has been one of the few reliable sources of transparency to inform foreign analysts, scholars, and citizens about important Chinese military developments that often have global repercussions. China has experienced important military and security changes over the past year, yet aside from its reformatted font and graphics, the 2012 report proves thin on new content.

While Chinese government spokespeople consistently criticize the Pentagon reports, they don’t provide specific evidence of inaccuracies. There’s no reason to water the report down in the face of criticism unsupported by factual counter-evidence, as doing so deprives citizens around the world of the opportunity to monitor the actions of governments – Chinese, U.S., or any other – and hold them accountable for their actions.

Moreover, like any other sovereign country, China is free to publish its own reports about the U.S. military, and already does so regarding its views on U.S. human rights. It would be very frustrating to think that certain officials in Washington were, at Beijing’s behest, effectively imposing self-censorship of useful and beneficial public discussions of China’s growing military capabilities.

In this spirit of transparency and government accountability, the analysis below looks at the 12 most critical shortcomings and omissions of the 2012 China Military Power Report.

1) The American taxpayer should have access to the highest quality source information on China’s military development given the implications for U.S. national interests. Shying away from critical analysis of important aspects of Chinese military development is a grave disservice to forward deployed U.S. forces in Asia. Our servicemen and women need American taxpayers to be kept well apprised of China’s rapidly growing military power so that voters will be ready to support measures to pay for equipment needed to adapt to the changing circumstances. The Office of Naval Intelligence’s detailed 2009 report on China’s naval development provides an excellent example of a report that provides the type of detail and insights that taxpayers deserve. … … …

Download full text of report here: http://www.defense.gov/pubs/pdfs/2012_CMPR_Final.pdf

For further details, see Press Briefing on 2012 DOD Report to Congress on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China”

For a summary by American Forces Press Serviceclick here.