Threat Level

By Sebastian Sprenger / March 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale last week said he does not subscribe to the thinking that China would eventually overtake the United States militarily (and in pretty much every other aspect, for that matter, as pundits have suggested).

"Maybe I'm naïve, but I'm hopeful that our economic ties to China -– the fact that they are a huge trading partner with the United States -- will cause them to think twice, and us to think twice, about getting involved in a military conflict," Hale said March 3 at an industry conference in Arlington, VA.

The pace of China's military buildup has caused much talk in Washington about Beijing's long-term intentions in recent years. The Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review criticizes Chinese defense leaders for being less than forthcoming about their modernization plans. Still, the QDR expresses the Defense Department's desire for a "multidimensional (relationship) undergirded by a process of enhancing confidence and reducing mistrust in a manner that reinforces mutual interests."