China is aggressively building up military forces capable of striking U.S. forces in the western Pacific and elsewhere as part of what the Pentagon calls an array of high-tech “anti-access” missiles, submarines and warplanes in its latest annual report.
The report to Congress on China's military power, released Monday, also warned that China's military is extending its global military reach beyond a weapons buildup to wage regional war with Taiwan and the United States. The report also questioned U.S.-China military exchanges, noting that Beijing is using the visits and meetings for political influence operations and intelligence gathering.
“China is fielding an array of conventionally armed ballistic missiles, ground- and air-launched land-attack cruise missiles, special operations forces, and cyberwarfare capabilities to hold targets at risk throughout the region,” the report said.
• Click here to read the report (PDF).
Release of the assessment comes amid reports that China has surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy in terms of gross domestic product, highlighting Beijing’s expanding global power.
Japan’s nominal GDP, which isn’t adjusted for price and seasonal variations, was worth almost $1.29 trillion in the April-to-June quarter compared with almost $1.34 trillion for China, the Associated Press reported. The figures are converted into dollars based on an average exchange rate for the quarter.
The 74-page Pentagon report highlighted numerous military developments by China’s 125-million-troop army, including the first mention of a new multiple-warhead, long-range road-mobile missile, and details on China’s plan to field aircraft carriers.
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Much of the report builds on past reports on China’s arms buildup, which includes a modestly growing nuclear arsenal and large-scale expansion of missile, naval and air forces.
However, the report for the first time highlighted the growth of Chinese anti-access and area-denial weapons, notably Beijing’s building and testing of a unique anti-ship ballistic missile that can hit ships at sea with pinpoint accuracy up to 1,000 miles from China’s coasts.
“China is pursuing a variety of air, sea, undersea, space and counterspace, and information warfare systems and operational concepts to achieve this capability, moving toward an array of overlapping, multilayered offensive capabilities extending from China’s coast into the western Pacific,” the report said of the anti-access arms.
Primary anti-access weapons are China’s medium-range missiles “designed to target forces at sea, combined with overhead and over-the-horizon targeting systems to locate and track moving ships.”
Additionally, China now has six nuclear powered attack submarines and 54 diesel-electric powered submarines, many of them outfitted with advanced anti-ship cruise missiles.
Other key anti-access weapons include Luyang 1- and 2-class guided-missile ships and Russian-made Sovremenny-class missile ships. The ships are equipped with advanced long-range anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles.