Chinese extending military might globally: Pentagon

United States has expressed concerns over the rising might of the Chinese military.

Last Updated: Aug 17, 2010, 12:25 PM IST

Washington: United States has expressed concerns over the rising might of the Chinese military and its effort to extend its reach globally beyond its traditional territorial neighborhood.

The annual Congressional-mandated report by the
Pentagon expresses concerned about the lack of transparency
from China into the force projection and anti-access, area
denial capabilities it is acquiring, the intentions that
underlie those acquisitions and the resources dedicated to
that task.

In 2009 alone, the Pentagon estimates China`s military -related spending was USD 150 billion. While some of the increasing Chinese capabilities have been put to positive use,
like humanitarian and anti-piracy efforts, the report says, China`s continued effort to be able to sustain military operations far from its shore was concerning to the US
military.

But China`s ability to sustain military power at a distance, today, remains limited, the report says.

"China has the most active land-based ballistic and cruise missile program in the world. It is developing and testing several new classes of offensive missiles, qualitatively upgrading certain missile systems and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses," a Pentagon official told reporters in condition on anonymity.

For example, China`s developing an anti-ship ballistic missile that has a range in excess of 1,500 kilometers, which is intended to provide the PLA with the capability to attack
ships, including aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific, the official noted.

China`s active ballistic and cruise missile development program also extends over into the area of its nuclear force modernization, where China appears to be
focusing on developing more survivable delivery systems, he said.

"Turning to the maritime realm, the PLA navy has the largest force of principal combatant submarines and amphibious warfare ships in Asia. China continues to invest heavily in undersea warfare with a mixture of nuclear-powered submarines and conventionally-powered diesel electric boats. This is complemented by investment in new surface combatants designed to improve the PLA navy` capability and capacity for anti-surface and anti-air warfare," the official said.

While, China`s strategic focus continues to be on Taiwan and the maritime approaches to China towards the east and southeast, it has, therefore placed a higher priority on
generating maritime capabilities and asserting and strengthening its maritime territorial claims.
"In the South China Sea, China`s primary interests are
related to securing its extensive sovereignty claims and
exploiting natural resources. A stronger military presence in
the region would also position it for force projection,
blockade and surveillance operations to influence critical sea
lanes," the official said.
"China`s investment in advanced electronic warfare
systems, counterspace weapons and computer network operations
reflect the emphasis and priority China`s leaders place on
building capability in these areas," the senior Defense
official said.

"China still has much work to do to translate its
aspirations into operational capabilities, but we note that
China is in fact working to translate those aspirations into
operational capabilities," the official said.

PTI