The Pentagon on Tuesday released a report that lays out US concerns about China’s growing military might, underscoring worries about a possible attack on Taiwan.
The key concern is that as China upgrades its military equipment and technology, and reforms how it trains and develops troops, it becomes more confident in its ability to wage a regional conflict, a senior US defense intelligence official told reporters.
Beijing has made it clear that asserting sovereignty over Taiwan is its top priority, they said.
Although China could easily fire missiles at Taiwan, it does not yet have the military capability to successfully invade, the official added.
They spoke on condition of anonymity to provide more detail on intelligence findings in the report, which was written by the US Defense Intelligence Agency.
Its release came a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) called on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to better prepare for combat.
The report talks broadly about the steps China is taking to modernize its military and expand its operations around the globe.
The worry is that China would reach the point where leaders would decide that using military force for a regional conflict is more imminent, the official said.
“Beijing’s long-standing interest to eventually compel Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland and deter any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence has served as the primary driver for China’s military modernization,” the report says. “Beijing’s anticipation that foreign forces would intervene in a Taiwan scenario led the PLA to develop a range of systems to deter and deny foreign regional force projection.”
The PLA is “likely to grow even more technologically advanced, with equipment comparable to that of other modern militaries,” it said.
The US official said that China has been working hard on developing ways to combine cyberattacking capabilities with kinetic weapons.
However, Beijing would face a significant challenge as it tries to bring generational change to its military, they added.
China has mainly done tightly controlled regional operations and some counterpiracy missions, but it would be more difficult to create a joint force capable of conducting large, complex combat operations far abroad, the official said.
Ministry of National Defense Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said that Taiwan watches the development of Chinese military capabilities more closely than any other nation.
“However warfare could play out, that is how we train,” Chen said on the sidelines of a simulated drill at the Hsinchu Air Base to reinforce the military’s defense capabilities ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
Additional reporting by Aaron Tu
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