By Anissa Haddadi
The U.S. Department of Defence unveiled its annual report on China’s military on Wednesday, revealing the Asian giant will have a modern military capable of force-projection while sustaining high-intensity combat in less than ten years.
According to the report China plans to acquire new aircraft carriers, a stealth fighter program, carrier-killing ballistic missiles, and will also focus on improving its cyber-warfare techniques to modernise its 2.3 million-strong People’s Liberation Army.
The annual report comes as various countries in the South Asia region are said to be concerned about China’s investment in offensive weapons technologies, claiming Beijing’s attitude to regional dispute has become increasingly dismissive of the other regional state’s positions.
Relations between the two global giants seemed to improve this year, with the U.S. Vice president Joe Biden even visiting the country this week and calling on closer ties, which was reciprocated by China’s Premier.
The Pentagon report however confirms that the U.S. are keeping a close eye on China as it revealed Beijing spent about US$160billion (£98billion) on its armed forces and other military-related projects in 2010, which is still far from the estimated US$700billion the U.S. spent.
Examining the readiness of China’s new weapons, the report said that China’s carrier program would not be operational until 2015 at the earliest, while its Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter would not be ready until 2018.
The report also announces the Dong Feng, or “East Wind”, DF-21D , a two-stage, solid-propellant, single-warhead medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) will be operational in the foreseeable future.
The report also highlighted China’s focus on ameliorating its modern cyber-space capabilities and focus on satellites and information-networking to help better co-ordinate its modern armed forces, even setting up “information warfare units” to attack potential enemy computer systems and protect its own networks.
China’s military strategists “regard the ability to utilise space and deny adversaries access to space as central to enabling modern, informatized warfare,” the report says.
The document also says China plans to increase its naval forces, pointing out that sea trials on the Varyag aircraft carrier, which previously belonged to the Soviet Union, had recently started. According to the study, Bejing could also plan on developing anti-ship missiles.
“Following this period of ambitious acquisition, the decade from 2011 through 2020 will prove critical to the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) as it attempts to integrated many new and complex platforms, ” the reports says.
China’s embassy in Washington gave the report a cold reception saying it was “a reflection of Cold War mentality” that consists in portraying China as a threat while the U.S. should instead try to “to work with China” to create a better cooperation between he two countries.
On the other end Xinhanet, while reporting on the document preferred to focus on its more positive sides, stating “The U.S. Department of Defence on Wednesday unveiled its annual report on China’s military, recognizing and welcoming China’s contribution to international safety and security, while still overlooking the country’s peaceful defence policy,” before adding the reports “recognized that China has made “modest, but incremental, improvements in the transparency of its military and security affairs,” while alleging “uncertainty about how China will use its growing capabilities.”
The Pentagon document is set to reignite the debate surrounding China’s rapid expansion as the U.S., many Western countries as well as South Asia regional powers have become anxious about China’s military build-up and its will to develop its offensive weapons capabilities, while Beijing has insisted it only plans “a peaceful rise”.