China developing bombers, likely training pilots to target US: Pentagon
18 August, 2018, 00:56 | Author: Gregory Stephens
"Over the last three years, the PLA has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets", the report says, using an acronym for China's People's Liberation Army.
Commenting on China's air force, the Pentagon said the PLA is aiming "to engage targets as far away from China as possible" with its bombing operations. China now has only one overseas base, in the East African country of Djibouti, and its military budget for 2018 was estimated at $175 billion.
Even before the new report's release, Washington was feeling the full brunt of the Chinese military's fury over a new $717 billion USA defense bill which encourages closer cooperation with Taiwan to counter Beijing.
"Over the last three years, the [People's Liberation Army] has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against USA and allied targets".
The report, which is mandated by Congress, details Chinese military developments over the previous year.
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.
A Pentagon report released on Thursday claims China is "likely training for strikes" against US and allied targets.
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".
In 2017, Beijing actually cut 300,000 personnel from its ground forces and reorganized them on a brigade structure.
Last week, China's armed forces told a US Navy reconnaissance plane to "leave immediately" on six separates occasions today during a tense flight over the South China Sea.
The report, which comes as the US and China spar over trade negotiations, said China increased its global defense spending to more than $190 billion in 2017, according to Reuters.
"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 military regularly seeks to demonstrate freedom of navigation by flying over the South China Sea.
"Should the United States intervene, China would try to delay effective intervention and seek victory in a high-intensity, limited war of short duration", Pentagon officials notes.
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.
There is regular contact between USA and Chinese military officials.
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.
China's military modernisation is primarily aimed at preventing any USA intervention in the Taiwan Strait and protecting its energy supplies coming through the IOR, but India certainly needs to keep its guard up.
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