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Bush Urges China to End 'Old Thinking,'
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-17 15:19 (KST)   
By GEORGE GEDDA Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President George W. Bush is imploring China to shed ''old ways of thinking and acting,'' including its lack of candor about details of its military buildup.

The absence of transparency, Bush said in his National Security Strategy report, aggravates worries about China ''throughout the region and the world.''

Bush did not go as far as some in the administration in assessing China's growing military power.

The CIA, for example, said recently that China's buildup threatens U.S. forces in the region.

In recent days, Pentagon officials have expressed deep unease about what they describe as China's escalating military involvement in Latin America.

Bush's strategy report, which covers a variety of global security issues, was released Thursday ahead of a long-planned visit next month by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

While Bush gave scant attention to the Taiwan question, a top Pentagon official, Peter Rodman, said China had changed the military balance in the Taiwan Strait by deploying 700 ballistic missiles across from Taiwan in recent years.

He said the United States is determined to meet its defense commitment to Taiwan.

Taiwan also was raised Thursday during a press briefing on the strategy report by national security adviser Steven Hadley.

''Obviously, in a conflict in the Taiwan Straits, everybody loses. China loses, Taiwan loses, we lose, the area loses,'' Hadley said.

He added that the cornerstone of U.S. policy is to promote the peaceful resolution of disagreements.

''The two parties need to avoid unilateral action that would upset the status quo in the region,'' Hadley said.

Rodman, in his presentation, echoed Bush's worries about China's secrecy in its military planning. He said China has yet to explain a military budget with an average annual growth rate that Beijing puts at nearly 16 percent from 1994 to 2004.

In Beijing on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang insisted that China is open about its military spending.

Other examples Bush cited of ''old thinking'' in China are reflected in efforts to ''lock up'' energy supplies or to ''direct markets'' rather than opening them up. This, he said, recalls a ''mercantilism'' from a discredited era.

He also scolded China for supporting resource-rich countries ''without regard to the misrule at home or misbehavior abroad by those regimes.'' Among countries with poor human rights records that China has befriended are Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Sudan.

Bush said it is in China's interest to open up its political system.

''The United States encourages China to continue down the road of reform and openness, because in this way China's leaders can meet the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Chinese people for liberty, stability and prosperity,'' Bush said.

As economic growth continues, China will face a growing demand from its own people to follow the path of East Asia's many modern democracies, adding political freedom to economic freedom, he said.

After the White House released the strategy report, several U.S. lawmakers alleged in a Capitol Hill appearance that China's policies harm America's workers.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Beijing has a ''government without a conscience,'' intent on manipulating its currency to the detriment of American producers.

Graham also told a congressional advisory panel that the country allows widespread piracy of copyrighted U.S. goods and abuses its citizens.

The senator has co-sponsored a bill that would impose a high tariff on Chinese goods to counter what he calls artificial currency exchange rates.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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