Among the factors shaping the Asia-Pacific strategic environment and US regional security interests in the twenty-first century, China’s position and role as a major power loom very large. China’s pursuit of autonomous major power status has been a long held and deeply felt conviction of Beijing’s leaders, but the modernisation of Chinese military power per se has not been a major concern of US decision makers for decades. The Sino-American rapprochement of the early 1970s, and the presumed backwardness of China’s defence technology base, meant that Chinese military capabilities posed no inherent or insuperable risk to American regional security interests. If anything, a weaker, more vulnerable China was deemed adverse to America’s declared pursuit of a stable and secure East Asia. Indeed, for much of the 1980s the United States actively facilitated China’s scientific and technological advancement, including a direct US role in assisting China’s military modernisation in four separate mission areas.1 With the United States intent on cultivating China as a counterweight to Soviet power in Asia (or at least hoping to render China a substantial, continuing preoccupation for Soviet military planners), few considered whether or how China might ultimately complicate American regional security interests.