By ELISABETH BUMILLER, May 18, 2011
WASHINGTON — A top Chinese general said Wednesday that China had no intention of challenging the American military and that it was “very strange” that questions were raised about his country’s military buildup when the same concerns were not voiced about the United States.
Gen. Chen Bingde, the chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, made his comments in a speech and joint news conference with Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I am surprised by the sophistication of the U.S. military, including its weapons and doctrines,” General Chen said at the news conference at the Pentagon, where he spoke through a Chinese military interpreter. “I can tell you that China does not have the capability to challenge the United States.”
He said that since the United States “has far more advanced weapons and equipment, why is not the question raised” that those weapons and equipment are “targeted at someone, some country, or some defense leadership?” In conclusion, he said, “I find that very strange for questions to be raised only to China but not to the United States.”
General Chen, who is on a weeklong visit to the United States with seven other Chinese generals, made similar remarks in a speech at National Defense University earlier on Wednesday. The visit, the firstby a Chinese official of General Chen’s rank in seven years, is meant to warm the tense relations between the United States and China. The Pentagon has grown increasingly concerned about the Chinese military buildup in the Pacific, including antiship ballistic missiles that have the potential of hitting an American aircraft carrier. In January, the Chinese conducted a test of their new stealth fighter jet hours before Mr. Gates met with President Hu Jintao.