Pentagon hypes China threat amid renewed strategic competition

Chinese bombers are much more active and operating farther from Chinese shores at an increased frequency, and the Pentagon thinks they are likely training for strikes on usa targets, according to the 2018 China Military Power Report.

Overall, the report found that China wants to leverage its economic, diplomatic and strategic strength to "establish regional preeminence and expand the country's global influence".

According to the Pentagon, China is building a "stealthy, long-range strategic bomber with a nuclear delivery capability that could be operational within the next 10 years".

It is also the first such report since the adoption of a new national defense strategy in January, which called "inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism", the primary concern for the US.

On Thursday, the Office of the Secretary of Defense released its annual report to Congress regarding military and security developments involving the People's Republic of China.

Media captionA BBC team flew over the disputed South China Sea islands in a United States military plane.

The 130-page report on China's expansive military modernisation, which ranges from long-range precision-strike missiles, nuclear bombers and submarines to expanding information, cyber, space, counter-space and expeditionary warfare capabilities, comes ahead of the inaugural "two-plus-two" dialogue between India and the US.

PLA naval vessels from three theater commands have also conducted air defence and anti-missile live-fire exercises in the East China Sea, PLA Daily reported last week.

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.

"The deployment and integration of nuclear-capable bombers would, for the first time, provide China with a nuclear "triad" of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air", the report said.

"The PLA also is likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with China by force, while simultaneously deterring, delaying, or denying any third-party intervention on Taiwan's behalf", it states.

The US regularly seeks to demonstrate freedom of navigation with flights over the South China Sea, much of which is claimed by China, and a number of other nations.

One of the most high-profile areas is the South China Sea, much of it claimed by China and other countries.

China's military budget for 2017 was about US$190 billion (S$260 billion), according to the report, far behind the Pentagon's annual budget of about US$700 billion.

The report's release comes amid an apparent break in ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China, with both countries agreeing to come back to the negotiation table in an effort to find a compromise.

The US also continues to maintain a substantial military presence in Japan, which has its own territorial disputes with China and the Philippines.

  • Rogelio Becker