Chinese Continuing Military Buildup
by Jim Garamone, U.S. Department of Defense
China continues to build up its military to challenge and
supplant the United States as the preeminent power in the
Indo-Pacific region, the assistant defense secretary for
Indo-Pacific security affairs said today.
Randall G. Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs,
briefed the Pentagon’s press corps following the release of the new
China Military Power Report. He said China continues to challenge
U.S. military advantages, such as America’s ability to deploy and
sustain forces anywhere in the world and its unparalleled alliance
May 3, 2019 - Randall G. Schriver,
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, briefs the Pentagon press on the contents of the new DOD report on Chinese military power. (U.S. Department of Defense photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber Smith)
China is investing money and time into capabilities and capacity,
“Our 2019 report finds that in the coming
decades, China seeks to become both prosperous and powerful, and the
report notes that China has a stated goal of becoming a world class
military by 2049,” he said.
China is continuing to build its
missile force, Schriver said, and
it has begun building a second aircraft carrier. The nation is
sailing two new cruisers and is building more, he said. And China’s
air force has flown its J-20 fifth-generation aircraft, Schriver
said. The aircraft has stealth characteristics and many U.S.
officials have said they believe it may contain technologies stolen
from U.S. manufacturers.
Chinese conventional forces are
moving to improve training and evaluation of ground, sea and air
forces, he said. Newly published doctrine “emphasizes realistic and
joint training across all domains and tasks the PLA to prepare for
conflict aimed at ‘strong military opponents,’” Schriver said.
China is emphasizing civil-military integration with civilian
companies entering the military market to achieve greater
efficiencies, innovation and growth, he said.
January 16, 2019 - Chinese sailors stand in formation in Beijing during a visit by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson to China’s naval headquarters. Richardson was on a three-day visit to Beijing and Nanjing to continue the ongoing dialogue with the chief of China’s navy and to encourage professional interactions at sea, specifically addressing risk reduction and operational safety measures to prevent unwanted and unnecessary escalation. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Elliott Fabrizio)
The report also touches on Chinese espionage, including
cybertheft, targeted investment in foreign companies with crucial
technologies and its exploitation of access that Chinese nationals
may have to U.S. technology. “In 2018, we saw specific efforts
targeting such areas as aviation technologies and anti-submarine
warfare technologies,” Schriver said.
DOD officials have said
they expect China will increase its military footprint, both in and
out of the Indo-Pacific region. “We believe China will seek to
establish additional bases overseas as well as points for access,”
Schriver said. He cited Chinese desires to establish military bases
in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific.
China has been working seriously to bulk up its worldwide status
for more than 20 years. China’s economy is expanding and the Chinese
Communist Party can mandate a strategy unchecked by democratic
forces in the nation. Two programs — the “Made in China 2025” and
“One Belt, One Road” initiatives — point to the path China would
like to take to ensure it is the preeminent power in the region.
Schriver said the initiatives have caused concern in many
nations that following them would mean a loss of sovereignty if the
nations by into the Chinese strategy. “Chinese leaders have softened
their rhetoric and sought to rebrand [the initiatives], however the
fundamental goals of these programs have not changed,” he said.
The report covers Chinese efforts in “influence operations” —
Chinese efforts to influence media, culture, business, academia in
other countries to accept the Chinese way.
China continues efforts to claim the South China Sea and
East China Sea. They continue to claim land on its borders with
India and Bhutan.
China’s attitude toward Taiwan continues to
be threatening as they use elements of persuasion and coercion
against the island,” Schriver said. He said this is destabilizing to
the entire region.
The U.S. National Defense Strategy says
the United States is in competition with China, but that does not
preclude the United States and China from working together when the
interests align, Schriver said. “We continue to pursue a
constructive results-oriented relationship between our countries,
and it is an important part of our regional strategy to have stable,
constructive relations with China and a relationship which mitigates
the risk of incidents or accidents.”