China adopting a more aggressive military stance, say US officials

March 11th, 2009 - 4:48 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar.11 (ANI): Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples and National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair have respectively told the US Congress that Somalia’’s extremist al-Shabaab is poised to formally merge with Al Qaeda and that China is adopting a more aggressive military stance.
While Lt. Gen. Maples briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on the issue of Somalian terrorists, Blair told the same body that China’’s alleged harassment of an unarmed U.S. Navy craft is the “most serious” he’’s seen in eight years.
“The Chinese trajectory there has changed in a somewhat more aggressive way in the past several years from what we had seen earlier. They seem to be more … military, aggressive, forward pushing than we saw a couple of years before,” Fox News quoted Blair, as saying.
Blair said the debate is still open as to whether China’’s military power will be “used for good or for pushing people around.”
His testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee comes after the Pentagon accused five Chinese ships of harassing an unarmed U.S. Navy craft in international waters. Blair said the incident is the worst since a U.S. spy plane and crew were detained in 2001.
In the incident Sunday, Chinese ships surrounded and harassed a Navy mapping ship in international waters off China, at one point coming within 25 feet of the American boat and strewing debris in its path, the Defense Department said. The Obama administration protested to China about what it called reckless behavior that endangered lives.
At one point during the incident the unarmed USNS Impeccable turned fire hoses on an approaching Chinese ship in self defense, the Pentagon said.
At another point a Chinese ship played chicken with the Americans, stopping dead in front of the Impeccable as it tried to sail away, forcing the civilian mariners to slam on the brakes.
In the hearing, Blair and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples also said Iran does not yet have any highly enriched uranium, the fuel needed to make a nuclear warhead.
They said Iran has only low-enriched uranium — which would need to be refined into highly enriched uranium before it can fuel a warhead.
Neither official said there were indications that refining has occurred. Their comments disputed a claim made last weekend by Israel’’s top intelligence military official, who said Iran has crossed a technical threshold and is now capable of producing atomic weapons.
Meanwhile, according to Xinhua report, China has lodged a formal protest with the Government of the United States on the issue.
China says the US ship was carrying out an illegal survey.
“China has lodged a protest to the United States as the USNS Impeccable conducted the activities … without China’’s permission,” ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular news briefing.
“We demand that the United States immediately stop such activities and take effective measures to prevent similar acts from recurring,” he said.
Ma said “the US claims are gravely in contravention of the facts and confuse black and white. They are totally unacceptable to China.”
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf of the People’’s Republic of China, and China’’s Regulations on the Management of Foreign-related Marine Scientific Research, have clear regulations on foreign vessels” activities in China’’s EEZs, Ma said.
The Chinese government always handles such activities strictly in accordance with these laws and regulations, he added. (ANI)

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