WASHINGTON – The speed with which U.S. ground forces captured Baghdad and the prominent role played in Iraq by U.S. commandos have led China to rethink how it could counteract the American military in the event of a confrontation over Taiwan, a Pentagon report says.
The Chinese also believe, partly from their assessment of the Bush administration’s declared war on terrorism, that the United States is increasingly likely to intervene in a conflict over Taiwan or other Chinese interests, according to a Pentagon analysis.
“Authoritative commentary and speeches by senior officials suggest that U.S. actions over the past decade … have reinforced fears within the Chinese leadership that the United States would appeal to human rights and humanitarian concerns to intervene, either overtly or covertly,” said the Pentagon.
The assessments are in an annual Defense Department report to Congress on Chinese military power. The Pentagon took the unusual step of releasing the report late Saturday night.
The report said China is rethinking the concept that U.S. air power alone is sufficient to prevail in a conflict – a concept it inferred from the 1999 air war over Kosovo, which involved no U.S. ground forces.
“The speed of coalition ground force advances and the role of special forces in (Iraq) have caused the People’s Liberation Army theorists to rethink their assumptions about the value of long-range precision strikes, independent of ground forces, in any Taiwan conflict scenario,” the report said.