A new report reveals potentially troubling signs of an increase in the size and capability of China’s national army.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission began presenting its annual report to Congress this week.
And the commission, created by Congress 18 years ago to study military and economic relations between the two countries, had deeply worrying conclusions.
— US-China Commission (@USCC_GOV) November 14, 2018
As the Washington Free Beacon reported, some of the commission’s findings point to a ramp-up in military might ahead of a possible conflict between the People’s Liberation Army of China and U.S. armed forces.
It appears from the information released this week, however, that Chinese officials maintain a central focus on increasing power and dominance across Asia.
The report found that the “United States and its allies and partners are facing a China more capable and increasingly confident in its ability to use the military as a tool to intimidate countries throughout the Indo-Pacific and support the expansion of its global interests.”
China’s current efforts to modernize and expand the nation’s military come after 20 years of advancement that has placed the PLA among the world’s most powerful forces.
As the commission reported, the Chinese military has already proven “capable of contesting U.S. operations in the region, presenting challenges to the U.S. military’s longstanding assumption of enjoying ground, air, maritime, and information dominance in a conflict in the post-Cold War era.”
Looking ahead, the nation’s leader, Xi Jinping, appears to have set even loftier goals to be completed in the first half of the 21st century.
According to the report, Xi has “significantly accelerated” the timeline, requiring the army “to become a fully ‘modern’ military by 2035 and a ‘world-class’ military by mid-century.”
Prior to an update about a year ago, military upgrades were projected to be completed about 15 years later than current expectations.
Plans reportedly include a range of tactics, including some that are sure to prompt an international response.
The report points to Chinese activities, including selling arms to Iran, stealing American technology, and acts of intimidation toward Taiwan and other Asian nations, as potential steps toward its goal of military dominance.
Other tactics described in the report point to a more traditional military buildup that is exceeding the United States in certain respects.
“China is pouring resources in cyber and space warfare weapons, artificial intelligence, long-range missiles, and other advanced weapons systems,” commission Co-chairwoman Caroline Bartholomew said at a news conference, according to the Free Beacon.
Outright displays of military aggression are less likely in the near term, the commission found.
“However, as military modernization progresses and Beijing’s confidence in the PLA increases, the danger will grow that deterrence will fail and China will use force in support of its claims to regional hegemony,” the report states.
One result of this strategic timeline would be China’s ability to exert maximum authority in the region while reducing U.S. influence, according to the report.
“By 2035, if not before, China will likely be able to contest U.S. operations throughout the entire Indo-Pacific region,” the report stated.
“As China continues to achieve its military modernization goals, the PLA will become increasingly capable of contesting all domains of warfare throughout the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.”
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