Inscrutable Advice from the Middle Kingdom: Wise or Wicked?

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Adm. Mike Mullen and PLA chief Gen. Chen Bingde toast at a Sunday night dinner / DoD photo by Chad McNeeley

The pressure to reduce U.S. defense spending took a hit Monday when China’s top military officer suggested Washington is spending too much on its military in light of its economic problems at home. “I know the U.S. is still recovering from the financial crisis,” Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, said. “Under such circumstances, it is still spending a lot of money on its military and isn’t that placing too much pressure on the taxpayers? If the U.S. could reduce its military spending a bit and spend more on improving the livelihood of the American people…wouldn’t that be a better scenario?”

Chen made the comment during a joint press conference with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is on an official visit to China this week. Nothing like a possible future foe suggesting you might want to cut back as a way to kick defense spending into overdrive, if you know how Washington — as opposed to national security — works.