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Topping the list of key developments in 2011 are China’s robust weapons advances, including the refitting and sea trials of the first aircraft carrier the Varyag and first test flight of the newest stealth jet fighter, the J-20.

Also prominently mentioned is the People’s Liberation Army’s intensified “all-directional, broadly based and multilevel” active military outreach to other parts of the world, including the resumption of military-to-military visits between Washington and Beijing. The report also discussed the PLA’s frequent posturing and visits among the militaries of many of China’s neighboring countries, especially those in or near the contentious South China Sea.

However, sizable space is devoted to lauding the PLA’s operational involvement in various key trouble spots around the globe, including China’s busy counterterrorism, naval and ground exercises with several countries, especially with allies Pakistan, Indonesia and Belarus.

But the military’s involvement in the swift and successful evacuations of more than 30,000 Chinese citizens from war-torn Libya in the early months of 2011 was particularly touted as a major accomplishment of China’s long-range operational capabilities.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com.

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