Pentagon says China military 'likely training for strikes' on U.S. targets

A J15 fighter jet landing on China's sole operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning during a drill

China's military has expanded its bomber operations in recent years while "likely training for strikes" against the United States and its allies, a Pentagon report released on Thursday has said. DOD officials expect China to increase its defense budget to $240 billion over the next decade.

In January the Pentagon put countering Beijing, along with Russian Federation, at the center of a new national defense strategy.

"Over the last three years, the PLA [People's Liberation Army] has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets", the report says.

The report also points to China developing "increasingly advance military capabilities meant to coerce Taiwan" in an attempt to maintain its "one China" policy.

The East China Sea and the South China Sea have been flashpoints for provocative military behaviour from China and its neighbours, to the ire of the US.

One of the arguments in favor of developing such a force is that American rivals like China appear increasingly ready to strike USA space-based capabilities in the event of a conflict.

Hundreds of military vehicles carrying advanced weaponry including drones, early warning radar, howitzers and air defence missiles participated in the PLA manoeuvre, state-run China Central Television (CCTV) reported on August 11.

China is also focusing more on military spending, the report said.

From that passage, it is clear that the Pentagon is concerned about Chinese capabilities against forward USA bases in places like South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and maybe even Guam - not the continental United States, which China can already reach with nuclear missiles anyway.

Has China responded to the report's claims?

The document also warns that China "is likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with China by force".

China's defence spending exceeded $190bn in 2017 as the one-party socialist republic seeks to project military power on the global stage, the report said.

Part of that involves the PLA's Air Force being reassigned a nuclear mission, which would "provide China with a nuclear "triad" of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air".

"China intends to use the BRI to develop strong economic ties with other countries, shape their interests to align with China's, and deter confrontation or criticism of China's approach to sensitive issues", the report said.

Titled, "U.S. report on China's military reveals its guilty conscience", the editorial states, "The U.S.' technical analysis of the PLA capability is one thing, the Pentagon's publication of the analysis to hype the "China threat" is another".

The US military seems particularly alarmed by the prospect of China developing long-range bombers.

The US is watching these developments closely, as the Pentagon believes that "great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of US national security", as Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis explained earlier this year.

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