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Pioneer Editorial: China sees growth in threat areas

News on both the defense and economic fronts prove that China is becoming a more formidable competitor than we realized.

News Tuesday shows China poised to replace Japan as the world's No. 2 economy. No. 1? The United States, of course.

News reports show China as being on track to move into the No. 2 slot this year, which would put the nation on par to be an economic superpower to rival us. Japan's economic output before inflation was $5.09 trillion in 2009, slightly ahead of China's $4.91 trillion. The United States still far outpaces the world, at $14.26 trillion.

While Japan's economy has seen a slow growth, China's double-digit growth will see it surpass Japan yet this year. At that pace, China would surpass the U.S. by 2030 to become the world's largest economy.

Gaining such stature has its liabilities, especially to the rest of the world. As China's economic stature has grown, so has its assertiveness in political and financial corners. Such strengthen, poised against the United States, could affect our nation's role in world politics and economies.

Another harbinger is Tuesday's annual assessment of Chinese military power by the Department of Defense. The report states that China secretly is building up its military strength to become a world superpower militarily, a goal it actively seeks.

Major economic gains over the decade "have also enabled China to embark on a comprehensive transformation of its military. The pace and scope of China's military modernization have increased over the past decade, enabling China's armed forces to develop capabilities to contribute to the delivery of international public goods, as well as increase China's options for using military force to gain diplomatic advantage or resolve disputes in its favor," states the report.

Also, "China has the most active land-based ballistic and cruise missile program in the world. ...The (Chinese) Navy has the largest force of principal combatants, submarines, and amphibious warfare ships in Asia. China's naval forces include some 75 principal combatants, more than 60 submarines, 55 medium and large amphibious ships, and roughly 85 missile-equipped patrol craft."

It's safe to say that China has surpassed Russia as the No. 2 military power in the world, and some may say it has also gained superpower status.

While relations currently are cool with China, it behooves us to watch where we step. Hopefully it is possible for our two nations to emerge as harmonious and sharing superpowers. If not, China has become and will be a most formidable foe on both military and economic fronts.

After surviving one Cold War with the Soviets, we don't need an era of a second Cold War with China.