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China May Pose a Military Threat in Future, U.K.’s Fox Says

China is a potential military threat as it asserts its claim to natural resources and comes under strain from an ageing population, U.K. Defense Secretary Liam Fox said.

“We can’t gamble on the fact that China wouldn’t pose a military threat in the future and it would be prudent for the U.S. and its allies to prepare for that,” Fox told the Chatham House foreign-policy research institute in London today.

“China has major challenges in its demographics and supplies of national resources and I suppose we will be looking at China as it deals with the unavoidable social and economic problems that it may have,” Fox said. China may react by liberalizing, Fox said. Alternatively, it may “repress” or “externalize as a response,” he said.

Fox’s comments echo those of Prime Minister David Cameron, who in a televised leadership debate before taking power last year cited uncertainty over China as one of the reasons for Britain to maintain its nuclear deterrent.

Cameron’s comments drew an instant reprimand from the then ruling Labour Party, which pointed out that China is a fellow permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

“I neither take the view that we should be overly optimistic about where China is going, nor should we be paranoid about where China is going,” Fox said today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.

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