Washington: China is building and strengthening its armed forces to fight and win high-intensity regional military operations of short duration, US Defence Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel has told lawmakers.
"China is pursuing a long-term, comprehensive military modernisation programme designed to improve the capacity of its armed forces to fight and win high-intensity regional military operations of short duration," Hagel said.
"I understand that Taiwan contingencies remain the principal focus of much of this modernisation, but there are growing indications that China is developing capabilities for missions that go beyond China`s immediate territorial concerns, such as its counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and noncombatant evacuation operations from Libya," he said in written answers to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Hagel has been nominated by President Barack Obama, as his next Defence Secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Leon Panetta as the Defense Secretary.
His answers to the Senate committee run into 112-page questionnaire, wherein India does not find any mention.
He underlined that the US should continue to monitor developments in China`s military modernisation while encouraging Beijing to be more transparent about its military and security strategies, policies and programmes.
66-year-old Hagel said the US response to China`s military modernization should be flexible and supported by the continued evolution of its presence and force posture in the Asia-Pacific region, the strengthening of its regional alliances and partnerships.
The former Republican Senator described US-China the relationship as simultaneously possessing elements of cooperation and competition.
"China is rapidly modernising its military and increasingly asserting claims to territory in the East China Sea and the South China Sea," he said.
Observing that China`s expanding economy and growing military are developments the US, Allies, partners, and all other nations in the region must monitor carefully, he said on the one hand, Beijing`s growth and potential create an opportunity to cooperate where America`s interests and those of China converge.
"At the same time, China’s rapid rise and the relative lack of transparency surrounding its intentions can be a source of anxiety and concern in the region. If confirmed, I will evaluate the impact of these developments - as well as the impact of other security trends - on requirements for the US defense posture in the region," Hagel said.
Hagel said if confirmed, he will seek ways to improve the US-China military-to-military relationship, in terms of the quality and the quantity of exchanges between the two sides.