US Congress seeks report on Chinese military from Pentagon

China`s extensive military build-up is alarming, the Senators said.

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2010, 11:17 AM IST

Washington: In the wake of China`s "alarming" military build-up over the recent years, five influential Senators have asked the Pentagon to file a report to the US Congress on Beijing`s growing military capabilities.

"China`s extensive military build-up is alarming, as are its potential implications for US national security," the Senators wrote in a letter to Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

The letter was signed by Republican Senators John Cornyn, John McCain, James Risch, Pat Roberts and James Inhofe.

"The Chinese People`s Liberation Army (PLA) has undertaken a military modernisation program, supported by a military budget that has experienced double-digit-percentage annual increases for more than two decades," they said.

The Senators alleged that the Pentagon has failed to submit a report to the Congress on the military power of China as mandated by the 2000 National Defence Authorisation Act.

The Defence Department`s annual Chinese military power report informs Congress on the true nature of the extent of Beijing`s rapidly growing military capabilities and military strategies.

"With the Chinese military power report now almost five months overdue, we ask that you submit it to Congress immediately and provide an explanation as to the significant delay," they said.

"Continued delay would further hinder Congress` ability to fully and accurately understand the potential threat that China`s rapidly expanding military poses to US national security," the Senators said.

According to Department of Defence (DoD) 2009 report, "China has the most active land-based ballistic and cruise missile program in the world. It is developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading certain missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defences."

Beijing is developing an anti-ship ballistic missile as part of its anti-access strategy that "is intended to provide the PLA the capability to attack ships at sea, including aircraft carriers, in the western Pacific Ocean”.

It is also developing a new submarine-launched ballistic missile that "would provide China its first credible sea-based nuclear strike capability”.

Furthermore, two new Shang-class nuclear-powered submarines and a unit of Song-class diesel-electric attack submarines were recently put into service. The report also states that "China remains interested in procuring Su-33 carrier-borne fighters from Russia”.

The Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in a paper, said China "appears to be purposefully developing and fielding offensive military capabilities that challenge US freedom of action in all domains - space, cyberspace, at sea and in the air. Chinese military writings strongly support this proposition."

The report also highlights Beijing`s willingness to use military force to take Taiwan.

It further acknowledges that the PLA "is also developing longer range capabilities that have implications beyond Taiwan" which "could allow China to project power to ensure access to resources or enforce claims to disputed regions."

"China`s interest in a peaceful and stable environment that will support the country`s developmental goals is difficult to reconcile with the evolving military capabilities that appear designed to challenge US freedom of action in the region or exercise aggression or coercion of its neighbours, including US treaty allies and partners," Admiral Robert F Willard, Commander of the Pacific Command, had earlier said while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee.