Beijing Feeds the Hype

In the last few days, China has voiced its disapproval of the new Pentagon report evaluating Chinas military. The comments have been about what youd expect, along the lines of the Foreign Ministry spokesman that accused the Pentagon of a "Cold War mentality."But that didn't stop Beijing from feeding the hype by unveiling an ambitious new program to enhance its capability to innovate, develop and rapidly supply new-generation weaponry on the same day it was criticizing the US for "continuing to peddle the so-called 'China threat.'"Sino Tech army.jpg The 15-year endeavor will include new and high-technologies for the space industry, aviation, ship and marine engineering, nuclear energy and fuel, and information technology for both military and civilian purposes, with a focus on development of new and high-tech weaponry.The effort to develop new technologies may run up against Chinas continuing difficulties with fraud in its scientific and R&D communities, although the government is also introducing initiatives to confront these problems.In truth, the new military technology plan doesnt appear to mark any actual departure from the trends the Pentagon report already noted this is new PR and packaging, not new policy. But youd think someone would realize that its difficult to protect your international image as a peaceful, stabilizing presence the same day youre trying to instill national pride in your new, powerful, high-tech military. Maybe they should divert a few yuan to modernizing their media operation.Its actually been a rough couple of weeks for Chinese spokesmen addressing security relations with the US. Last week, they had to deal with a Taiwanese sales rep for Lockheed who pled guilty to spying for China and attempting to purchase US military technology for shipment to China. A few days later, they were criticizing a State Dept announcement that none of the Departments thousands of new Lenovo computers would be used on classified networks, out of security concerns with the Chinese companys systems. The FBIs Chinese spy is still in the news as well.So it looks to be a trend of hawks and pessimists steering the technology/security policies of both countries lately. Not to worry our China policy remains as muddled as ever: In developments that are apparently completely unrelated, this month China (and the American Chamber of Commerce in China) asked the US to relax export controls of high-tech goods, and apparently that wont be a problem.-- Matthew Tompkins

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