U.S. Changes Pacific Military Policy

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The rise of China as a regional force has shaken assumptions that had governed this vast region since the end of World War II, including that of uncontested U.S. naval and air power from California to the Chinese coast. With those days soon to end, senior officers said, the U.S. military in Asia is retooling to reflect new war-making technology, better prepare for military crises and counter any future threat from the emergent Chinese navy and air force.

Some U.S. specialists have predicted an Asian Cold War or outright conflict as a newly muscular China gets ready to project power beyond its shores. But U.S. military planners in the region have a different interpretation of the Chinese challenge. The goal, they said in interviews, is to maximize U.S. forces here -- as demonstrated by the B-2 deployment. However, the planners also said the United States was seeking to build a network of contacts with the Chinese government and military through which the power overlap could be managed rather than fought over.

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