(National Sentinel) Flashpoint: The Pentagon said in its annual report to Congress this week that China is upgrading its strategic bomber force to strike U.S. and allied targets throughout the Pacific region while transforming its ground forces to “fight and win wars.”
The continued buildup and modernization of forces, made possible by years of expansive economic growth as well as theft of U.S. and allied military secrets and weapons designs, is beginning to pay off, the report says, as Beijing poses the most dangerous threat to U.S. regional dominance in the modern era.
Agence France Press reported:
The annual report to Congress, released Thursday, highlights China’s growing military, economic and diplomatic clout and how Beijing is leveraging this to rapidly build its international footprint and establish regional dominance.
In the case of China’s air power, the report states that Chinese bombers are developing capabilities to hit targets as far from China as possible.
In August 2017, six Chinese H-6K bombers flew through the Miyako Strait in the southwest of the Japanese islands, and then for the first time turned north to fly east of Okinawa, where 47,000 US troops are based.
The PLA may demonstrate the “capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam,” the report says.
“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 US and allied targets,” the report said, noting how China is pushing its operations further out into the Pacific.
Fleet of Chinese warships including the navy’s sole aircraft carrier conduct major exercise earlier this year in the South China Sea.
President Xi Jinping has set a goal of building a world-class military by 2050 after decades of modernizing a force that has largely fielded outdated equipment and poorly-trained forces.
Last year, according to the Defense Department, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began a major transformation of its operational and tactical units as part of the overall reform effort. And with almost 1 million troops, the PLA is the biggest ground force in the world at present.
“The purpose of these reforms is to create a more mobile, modular, lethal ground force capable of being the core of joint operations and able to meet Xi Jinping’s directive to ‘fight and win wars,'” the report notes.
In addition, the Chinese military is preparing for the “Taiwan contingency” — that is, the invasion of the island should its people attempt to declare formal independence. Either way, however, Beijing is gearing up to bring what it considers a “breakaway province” of the mainland back under communist government control.
The U.S. has a formal mutual defense treaty with Taiwan.
“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.
“Should the United States intervene, China would try to delay effective intervention and seek victory in a high-intensity, limited war of short duration.”
As for its manmade islands in the South China Sea, the report notes that Beijing has, for now, stopped major reclamation efforts and is working on building infrastructure on the islands in order to accommodate military assets including fighter jets and bombers.