Washington: Increasing military might of China has raised an alert for Pentagon and US Senators. Expressing concern over the increasing military influence of China in the Asia Pacific region, a top Pentagon Commander and several senators have favoured the demand for more counter-balancing US efforts in the region.

"We have received general appeals across the Asia-Pacific from among our partners with regard to a desire for more US influence in China," Admiral Robert Willard, Commander, US Pacific Command (PACOM) said.

"Countries in the Asia Pacific region are asking for its influence to counterbalance China as they are being challenged by it," he said.

But he quickly pointed out that the significant growth of the Asian economy has been mainly due to the economic achievements of China.

Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said that it is important to understand and anticipate the consequences of this Chinese growth on the regional dynamics.

"As China's influence and military grow, traditional alliances and partnerships in the region may come under pressure from a perception that the balance of power is shifting, and certain countries in the region may find it necessary to grow their militaries as well," Levin said.

"Some experts even warn of the potential for an emerging arms race in the region and countries leery of China's intentions for its burgeoning military seek to shore up their own defence," he said.

"Such developments must be studied and understood if informed decision making is to proceed in a thoughtful, effective way," he said.

"A robust, meaningful and mutually beneficial military-to-military engagement with China's military, although elusive and intermittent, remains a useful goal for the United States," he said.

Admiral Willard agreed with the senators. "Last year we witnessed Chinese assertiveness that was demonstrated in the South China Sea and in the Senkaku Islands near Japan," Willard said.

"We believe the motive behind that was a declaration by the Chinese regarding their sovereign claims over the contested areas within the South China Sea region and over the
Senkakus," he said.

"However, we have not seen the same level of assertiveness in 2011 that we witnessed in 2010," he said.

“But I think there's no question regarding their aims to have a great influence over that maritime space and especially over the contested areas that they've laid claim to in both the South China Sea and East China Sea," he added.

Agencies