China 'training for strikes' on U.S. and its allies

Erika Holt
August 18, 2018

In August 2017, six Chinese H-6K bombers flew through the Miyako Strait, south-west of the Japanese islands, and then for the first time, turned north to fly east of Okinawa, where 47,000 USA troops are based.

But it was unclear, the report added, what message Beijing was trying to send, "beyond a demonstration of improved capabilities".

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 report said that China's space program "continues to mature rapidly" and is also developing counterspace capabilities to "degrade and deny adversary use of space-based assets during a crisis or conflict".

China has yet to comment on the report.

In May, China landed a long-range nuclear-capable bomber on an island in the disputed South China Sea, a move that raised tensions in the region due to a prior commitment by China not to militarize the area.

"The PLA continues to strengthen its military space capabilities despite its public stance against the militarisation of space", it said. Starting with the USA, which objects to its growing trade deficit with China, both sides have announced tariffs on a range of each others' goods.

Has China responded to the report's claims?

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made no secret of his desire to modernize China's armed forces, including weeding out widespread corruption in the ranks and updating the country's military hardware.

The call has alarmed China's neighbours, several of whom are embroiled in tense border disputes with the superpower.

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

In 2017, Beijing actually cut 300,000 personnel from its ground forces and reorganized them on a brigade structure.

The assessment, which comes at a time of heightened US-China tensions over trade, is contained in an annual report that highlights China's efforts to increase its global influence, with defence spending the Pentagon estimates exceeded $US190 billion ($A261 billion) in 2017.

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

The US is watching Chinese activities carefully as China's power grows in what the Pentagon argues is an era of renewed "great power competition".

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.

There is regular contact between USA and Chinese military officials.

"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.

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

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