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

Mattis gestures

Pentagon Says China Military ‘Likely Training for Strikes' on US Targets

The report says while the PLA has continued to extend operations, it is not clear what message Beijing is seeking to send by carrying out the flights "beyond a demonstration of improved capabilities".

Similarly, despite being wary of China's assertive behaviour along the Line of Actual Control and its growing naval deployments in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India is also set to roll out the red carpet for Chinese defence minister General Wei Fenghe's visit here from August 21 to 24.

Beijing claims more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea, which carries around US$3.4 trillion worth of global trade each year.

Last year, PLA bombers flew a dozen operational flights through the Sea of Japan, into the Western Pacific, around Taiwan, and over the East and South China Sea - all potential flashpoints.

The new U.S. report released on Thursday said China was deploying "increasingly advance military capabilities meant to coerce Taiwan" in a bid to prevent the island from declaring independence.

As indicated by the "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2018" report, China boasts 75 to 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 16 to 30 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, 200 to 300 medium-range ballistic missiles, and 1,000 to 2,000 short-ranged ballistic missiles, amounting to approximately 2,000 missiles. China's use of such tactics, which fall short of armed conflicts, to pursue its strategic objectives are evident in its expanding territorial and maritime sovereignty claims in South and East China Seas as well as the 73-day troop standoff with India at Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction a year ago, said the Pentagon.

China is in the process of modernising its military in an attempt to fulfil Chinese President Xi Jinping's vision of a world-class military that can fight and win wars in any theatre of combat by the middle of this century.

With almost a million troops, the PLA is the largest standing ground force in the world.

As Thursday's report notes, the PLA is undergoing "the most comprehensive restructure in its history to become a force capable of fighting joint operations".

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The report highlights its increasing military capability, including defence spending estimated at $190bn (£150bn) - a third that of the US.

It is estimated China spent more than $190bn (£149bn) on defence past year, with the Pentagon predicting a rise to $240bn (188bn) by 2028.

The Pentagon report is at pains to stress that the United States "seeks a constructive and results-oriented relationship with China".

Key to this expanding footprint is China's "Belt and Road" initiative that seeks to bolster ties with other nations through lending and infrastructure deals.

Tensions also continue in the non-military sphere.

Mr Trump has long complained of the USA trade deficit with China and has championed tariffs as a way to strike "great new trade deals".

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

Beijing has now stopped substantial land reclamation.

What else does the report say?

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