US underestimated China's military modernization: Gates

Washington, Jan 10 (ANI): US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who is on a three-day visit to China, has said that his country was surprised by the pace of China's military development, adding that the American intelligence has underestimated elements of Beijing's military modernization.

"We've been watching these developments all along. I've been concerned about the development of the anti-ship ballistic missile ever since I took this job" in 2007," The Washington Post quoted Gates, as saying.

"We knew they were working on the stealth aircraft. What we've seen is that they maybe are somewhat further ahead in the development of that aircraft than our intelligence had earlier predicted," he added.

Gates reportedly made his comments on Saturday before leaving for China with the intention of bridging the gap between the militaries of both the countries.

He last visited China in 2007, and subsequently China suspended military contacts twice following the U.S. decision to sell arms to Taiwan.

However, Gates warned that the Pentagon is stepping up investments on a range of weapons, jet fighters and technology in response to the Chinese military build-up. He also said that the Chinese development of its first radar-evading fighter jet, and an antiship ballistic missile that could hit American aircraft carriers, is a reason behind persuading him to make improvements in American weaponry 'a priority.'

Talking about the Chinese development, he said: "It clearly has the potential to put our capabilities at risk. We have to pay attention to them. We have to respond appropriately in our programs." (ANI)

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