CIA Director Michael Hayden said China was beefing up its military with "remarkable speed and scope," calling the buildup "troubling."
China and India will affect strategic planning, he said. “Competition for influence will characterize the relationships between China, India, Japan and other emerging powers,” Hayden said during a speech at Kansas State University.
“But China, a communist-led nuclear state that aspires to and will likely achieve great power status during this century, will be the focus of American attention in that region of the world.”
Hayden said there are differing views about China’s rise and its motivations. His view is that China is an economic competitor and increasingly becoming a “geopolitical” competitor.
“But China is not an inevitable enemy of the United States of America. There are good policy choices available to both Washington and Beijing that can keep us on the largely peaceful, constructive path that we've both been on now for about 40 years,” he said.
China’s military buildup is the most significant aspect of Beijing’s growth, Hayden said, noting that the PLA has integrated the U.S. conflict lessons learned in both Persian Gulf wars. “They've developed an integrated advanced weaponry into a modern military force,” he said.
The new Chinese military power could pose a risk to U.S. forces and interest in the region, and the military buildup is also about projecting the image of strength, he said.
“It sees an advanced military force as an essential element of great power status, and it is the intelligence community's view that any Chinese government, even a democratic one, would have similar nationalist goals.”