The speed with which U.S. ground forces captured Baghdad and the prominent role played in Iraq by U.S. commandos have led China to rethink how it could counteract the American military in the event of a confrontation over Taiwan, the Pentagon says.
The Chinese also believe, partly from their assessment of the Bush administration's declared war on terrorism, that the United States is increasingly likely to intervene in a conflict over Taiwan or other Chinese interests, according to the Pentagon analysis.
"Authoritative commentary and speeches by senior officials suggest that U.S. actions over the past decade . . . have reinforced fears within the Chinese leadership that the United States would appeal to human rights and humanitarian concerns to intervene, either overtly or covertly," the Pentagon report said.
The analysis is in an annual Defense Department report to Congress on Chinese military power. The Pentagon took the unusual step of releasing the report late Saturday.
The report said China is rethinking the concept that U.S. air power alone is sufficient to prevail in a conflict -- a concept it inferred from the 1999 air war over Kosovo, which involved no U.S. ground forces.
Because China's leaders believe their military forces are not yet strong enough to compete directly with the U.S. military, they are putting more emphasis on preventing U.S. intervention. Beijing considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory and has threatened to take it by force.
The Pentagon for several years has expressed concern at China's military modernization, especially its emphasis on deploying more shorter-range ballistic missiles that can strike Taiwan.