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The military deception is said to be most intense regarding cyber-warfare, space weapons, power projection and strategic nuclear programs.

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s military power, released in March, discussed China’s use of denial and deception, quoting Chinese military writings as saying that strategic deception is “[luring] the other side into developing misperceptions … and [establishing for oneself] a strategically advantageous position by producing various kinds of false phenomena in an organized and planned manner with the smallest cost in manpower and materials.”

The world “has limited knowledge of the motivations, decision-making, and key capabilities supporting China´s military modernization,” the report said, noting that “China´s leaders have yet to explain in detail the purposes and objectives” of the expanding Chinese forces.

“The lack of transparency in China´s military and security affairs poses risks to stability by increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation,” the report said.

Asked about Beijing’s strategy, one U.S. intelligence official told Inside the Ring: “The Chinese government - like many governments - sometimes uses deception to mask or conceal its true capabilities. It’s something people constantly keep in mind when looking at China.”

• Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at Inside the Ring.