The Defense Department today published a new China Military Power report that finds the Asian country is on the cusp of fielding some of the most modern weapons in the world.
The 140-page volume is part of a new series of unclassified country assessments by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Confusingly, the report is separate from the annual report on China's military the Pentagon prepares annually in response to a statutory requirement, which is formally titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" but informally titled the same as the new DIA volume.
On Jan. 15, a senior Pentagon official summarized the new report's findings:
As we look at China, we see a country whose leaders describe it as "moving closer to center stage in the world," while they strive to achieve what they call "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." This ambition permeates China['s] national security strategy and guides the development of the People's Liberation Army, the PLA, which actually is not a national institution, but rather the military arm of the Chinese Communist Party.
Party leaders have identified the initial decades of the 21st century as a period of strategic opportunity in the international environment that would allow China to focus on building what they call "comprehensive national power." A key component of this, of course, is military power.
The strategic objectives of the Chinese Communist Party include securing China's status as a great power. Chinese leaders characterized their long-term military modernization program as essential to achieving this great power status. Indeed, China is rapidly building a robust lethal force with capabilities spanning the ground, air, maritime, space and information domains, designed to enable China to impose its will in the region and beyond.
During the past decade alone, from counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, to an expanded military presence in the East and South China Seas, China has demonstrated a willingness to use the PLA as an instrument of national power in the execution of what they call their "historic mission in the new century."
Improvements in PLA equipment and capabilities that have focused on generating combat power across the PLA services present Beijing with additional response options as China faces increasing global security concerns.
Expected future advances in areas such as nuclear deterrence, power projection, cyberspace, space and electromagnetic spectrum operations will continue to be critical components of the PLA's developing capabilities.
China also continues to develop capabilities for what they term "non-war missions," such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counter-piracy, peacekeeping, things of that nature.
In the coming years, the PLA is likely to grow even more technologically advanced and proficient with equipment comparable to that of other modern militaries. The PLA will acquire advanced fighter aircraft, modern naval vessels, missile systems, and space and cyberspace assets as it reorganizes and trains to address 21st century threats further from China's shores.
DIA will continue to closely monitor China's growing military capabilities, and we will provide foundational assessments such as this China Military Power Report to support decision advantage in the defense of the nation.