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

Clay Curtis
August 18, 2018

China is actively developing its fleet of long-range bombers and "likely" training its pilots for missions targeting the usa, according to a new Pentagon report.

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

But backed by its growing economic, diplomatic and military clout, China is increasingly willing to employ "coercive measures" to advance its interests.

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

China has been expanding what appear to be military facilities on islands in the South China Sea and has landed bombers on the outposts during training exercises.

Yet, the report says China's goals are not only sought through military means.

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".

China formally established its Djibouti military base in July a year ago, followed several months later by the country's controversial acquisition of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka.

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.

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Usually, there is only one player at the top of the rankings for batsmen released by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Three half-centuries in four innings for India A on their first-class tour of England this summer were encouraging, too.

Even as it strengthens military ties with Washington, New Delhi has also firmly declared its intention to ink the Rs 39,000 crore deal with Moscow for five S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems later this year.

The Pentagon report said Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature infrastructure policy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), served to encourage countries to fall into line with China's ambitions.

"US military aircraft, this is China. leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding", a representative of the PLA said.

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 assessment was contained in an annual report that highlighted China's efforts to increase its global influence, with defence spending that the Pentagon estimates exceeded $190bn in 2017. "We urge the U.S. to stick to its promises to China regarding Taiwan question, and uphold the one-China policy".

"Should the United States intervene, China would try to delay effective intervention and seek victory in a high-intensity, limited war of short duration", the report says.

Officially, China advocates for a peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but it has never repudiated the use of military force, the document notes.

And in June, James Mattis became the first U.S. defence secretary to visit China since 2014.

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