Don't become a "bull in a china shop," Chinese state media tells U.S.

President Barack Obama and top defense officials unveiled Thursday a new U.S. defense strategy.

Story highlights

  • U.S. officials announced new defense strategy this week
  • It makes the Asia-Pacific region a key focus for U.S. military power
  • Xinhua editorial says U.S. "should abstain from flexing its muscles" in the region
  • "All the trends" are pointing toward the Pacific as strategic focus, top U.S. general says

The United States should use the "utmost caution" as it makes the Asia-Pacific region a key focus of its newly announced military strategy, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said in a commentary published Friday.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama and top defense officials unveiled a new U.S. defense strategy that focuses heavily on the Asia-Pacific region, a fast-growing economic powerhouse with numerous potential flashpoints that the administration has identified as crucial to U.S. interests.

While resulting in a leaner force, the new strategy also calls for the U.S. to increase its military's "institutional weight and focus on enhanced presence, power projection, and deterrence in Asia-Pacific," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

While welcoming a peaceful U.S. role in the region, Xinhua's commentary Friday warned the United States against acting like a "bull in a china shop."

"The U.S. role, if fulfilled with a positive attitude and free from a Cold War-style zero-sum mentality, will not only be conducive to regional stability and prosperity, but be good for China, which needs a peaceful environment to continue its economic development," the Xinhua editorial said.

"However, while boosting its military presence in the Asia-Pacific, the United States should abstain from flexing its muscles, as this won't help solve regional disputes."

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The new defense strategy, which still lacks many specifics, is meant to pare U.S. defense spending by at least $487 billion over the next decade and drops a long-standing doctrine calling for the ability to fight to simultaneous ground wars.

The result will be a more "agile, flexible, ready-to-deploy, innovative and technologically advanced" force prepared to counter terrorists, rogue states and the threat of nuclear weapons worldwide, Panetta said Thursday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the focus on the Asia-Pacific region is crucial.

"The strategy talks about a shift to the future," he said Thursday. "And all of the trends -- demographic trends, geopolitical trends, economic trends and military trends -- are shifting toward the Pacific."

With U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, the focus on the Asia-Pacific region has become a key theme of the administration's foreign policy commentary in recent months.

In November, Obama toured the region to highlight its economic and strategic importance to U.S. interests and announced plans to eventually station a task force of up to 2,500 Marines in Australia

"The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay," he said at the time, pledging that the coming defense cuts would not affect the country's military posture in the region.

He reiterated that pledge Thursday.

"As I made clear in Australia, we will be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of that critical region,," he said.

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