China's military does not pose a threat to Asia or a challenge to the United States' interests in the region, a prominent specialist on Chinese security and foreign policy said. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior associate Michael Swaine told an Asia Society lunch in Hong Kong yesterday that China's military capabilities and strategic plan ruled it out as a true military threat to Asia and the US. 'Looking at the ability of China to pose a regional threat you have to look at very critical issues of performances, one of them is controlling battle space ... and China is only beginning to acquire [that] capability,' Dr Swaine said. He said China had no sophisticated navy while the US had the only naval power in the world capable of using and countering air-, sea- and submarine-launched anti-ship missiles. China also lacked the capability to launch ground operations against some of its largest neighbours such as Russia and India, in part because those countries also had nuclear weapons. 'So it's not a simple question of acquiring conventional forces and exerting pressure on those countries,' he said. In its 'Quadrennial Defence Review' in February, the Pentagon singled out China as its biggest armed threat, saying it had the 'greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that, over time, offset traditional US military advantages'. Dr Swaine said the advances of China's military modernisation programme during the past two decades were more focused on increasing coercive capacities against Taiwan and deterring the US if it decided to side with Taiwan in a conflict across the Taiwan Strait. 'When you look at the overall strategy that motivates this kind of development on the part of the Chinese military, I don't see a desire to create a military force that is designed to achieve certain military objectives at a certain point of time,' he said. 'It's not that the Chinese military is preparing a host of capabilities [and] that once they attain them they will make the military decision to seize Taiwan.'