Defence plan ruffles the Chinese
John Garnaut and Brendan Nicholson
May 1, 2009
Source - The Age
THE Chinese Government is bristling at reports that tomorrow's Australian Defence white paper will call for a big build-up of naval and air force power to counter the potential military threat of China.
Senior Chinese diplomats and scholars say they are confused at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apparent hawkish stance and predict Beijing will formally raise concerns.
"For us this is confusing," a Chinese diplomatic source told The Age. "Kevin Rudd was supposed to be the Chinese-speaking Prime Minister who would provide a bridge between China and America. "But now it looks like he wants to be act on behalf of America against China. This is going to be hard to explain to the Chinese people."
He emphasised, however, that the relationship was probably strong enough to withstand tension over defence policy. "The momentum in the relationship is unstoppable."
Chinese concerns may have been heightened by a briefing given in Beijing by the white paper's authors on deadly new capabilities for Australian forces that will include an estimated 12 new long-range submarines equipped with cruise missiles.
"China definitely will not accept Australia adopting the so-called China threat thesis," said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at the People's University. He said Beijing would raise "serious questions" with Australia...
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