A new Pentagon report on Chinese military power has shown the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has surpassed the U.S. military in terms of navy size, land-based missiles and advanced air defense systems.
The Office of the Defense Secretary issued today its annual Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC) report, detailing how a country identified as the United States’ top strategic competitor has advanced.
The PRC has marshaled the resources, technology, and political will over the past two decades to strengthen and modernize the PLA in nearly every respect,” the report assessed.
China is already ahead of the USA in certain areas” such as shipbuilding, land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, and integrated air defense systems.
When it comes to ships, China has managed to amass the world’s largest navy with some 350 ships and submarines, including more than 130 major surface combatants, according to the report.
The U.S. Navy, in comparison, has about 293 vessels in its battle force. At a press conference that preempted the report’s release, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Chad Sbragia told reporters that the People’s Liberation Army Navy was forecast to have an additional 10 ships by the end of the year.
On the topic of missile strength, Sbragia said China feels it has an asymmetric advantage over regional powers “not least of which is the United States, and the development and expansion of those have been significant.
China also has more than 1,250 ground-launched ballistic missiles (GLBMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with ranges between 500 and 5.500 kilometers.
The USA was restricted from producing such weapons through its 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, leaving the Pentagon with just one fielded GLBM and no GLCM’s.
Since single handedly leaving the INF in August of last year, the U.S. has tested mid-range one GLCM and one GLBM each in developments that drew criticism from both China and Russia.
In addition to offense, China has also invested in defense, establishing what the Pentagon report called one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems.
These include state-of-the-art Russian S-400’s, S-300’s and domestically-produced systems that constitute part of its robust and redundant integrated air defense system architecture.
China has argued that the massive discrepancy in its arsenal as compared to those of Russia and the U.S. meant there was no need for it to join existing bilateral arms control pacts between Moscow and Washington.
Worsening frictions between the two has led to heightened geopolitical tensions over the status of Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea, all of which Beijing largely claims. Chinese officials have accused the U.S. of meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
While China has made major strides in power projection, its two aircraft carriers face a fleet of 20 operated by the USA. Two of are currently sailing not far from Taiwan in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson Navy Lieutenant James Adams recently told Newsweek that “the USA will never bow in intimidation or be coerced into accepting illegitimate maritime claims, such as those made by the People’s Republic of China.
Newsweek / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2020.