Military Power of the People's Republic of China
Annual Reports to Congress
FY2000 National Defense Authorization Act (Section
1202) directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a
report "...on the current and future military strategy of
the People's Republic of China. The reports shall address
the current and probable future course of
military-technological development on the People's
Liberation Army and the tenets and probable development
of Chinese grand strategy, security strategy, and
military strategy, and of the military organizations and
operational concepts, through the next 20 years."
reports, submitted in response to the FY2000 National
Defense Authorization Act, addresses (1) China's grand
strategy, security strategy, and military strategy; (2)
developments in China's military doctrine and force
structure, to include developments in advanced
technologies which would enhance China's military
capabilities; and, (3) the security situation in the
China Military Power Reports
published in China in February 1999 proposes tactics for
developing countries, in particular China, to compensate for
their military inferiority vis-a-vis the United States during
a high-tech war.
(People's Republic of China)
Armed Forces Website
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, right,
reviews Chinese troops with Chinese Minister
of Defense Gen. Cao Gangchuan, left, during a
military welcome ceremony honoring Gates in
Beijing, China, Nov. 5, 2007.
MILITARY EXPANSION COULD HAVE GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON - China not only is a rising international economic
power, but also is a rising military power with new and
developing capabilities that have global implications,
according to the 2008 China Military Power Report released
The annual report mandated by Congress analyzes China's
military development and strategy and says that the country
spent as much as $139 billion, more than three times its
announced defense budget, modernizing its military forces last
That amount dwarfs the military budgets of Russia, Japan and
South Korea, and has been the driving force behind the
country's military transformation, fueled by the acquisition
of advanced foreign weapons and far-reaching organizational
and doctrinal reforms.
Combined with what Defense Department officials call a lack of
transparency, the military development poses risks to
stability by increasing the potential for misunderstanding and
miscalculation, the report concludes.
"China's military buildup has been characterized by opacity,
but (there is an) inability by both people in the region and
people around the world to really know what ties together the
capabilities that China's acquiring with the intentions it
has," said David Sedney, deputy assistant secretary of defense
for East Asia. "So there are a lot of areas where there is
misunderstanding. There are a lot of areas where there is lack
The Chinese government generally protests the report, said
Sedney, but this year the two sides have agreed to talk about
their objections and officials hope to get more answers to
their questions. This is the first time this has been done, he
"As China continues to grow and expand and influence the
course of world events, it's important for us to have a clear
understanding," Sedney said.
To date, the Chinese have invested in new generations of
survivable nuclear missiles, capable of targeting the United
States as well as regional powers; advanced short and
medium-range ballistic missiles; advanced attack and ballistic
missile submarines; Russian aircraft and precision weaponry;
multi-mission F-10 fighter aircraft; Russian guided missile
destroyers; and modern, long-range, mobile air defense
China's near-term focus appears to be on Taiwan, but long-term
trends suggest China is building a force scoped for operations
beyond Taiwan, according to the report. China continues to
deploy its most advanced weapons systems to the military
regions opposite Taiwan. China's military is developing
capabilities for a number of different military options
against Taiwan, including coercion, an air and missile
campaign, blockade, and amphibious invasion, according to the
Of particular concern to Defense Department officials is the
country's ability to use cyberspace to attack computer
networks. Several "intrusions" around the world in which a
computer network is infiltrated and information gathered,
Sedney said, have been sourced back to China. None of the
intrusions were into classified material, Sedney said.
"While we are not able to definitively label them as the work
of the (People's Liberation Army) or the Chinese government,
the techniques that were used, the way these intrusions are
conducted are certainly very consistent with what you would
need if you were going to actually carry out cyber warfare,"
But, overall, Sedney said, there is no one "big" change this
year in the continued military growth in China.
"The real story is the continuing development, the continuing
modernization, the continuing acquisition of capabilities and
the corresponding and unfortunate lack of understanding, lack
of transparency about the intentions of those and how they are
going to be employed. What is China going to do with all
that?" Sedney said.
Still, the overall U.S.-China defense relationship continues
to improve, as demonstrated by extensive high-level visits in
both directions; ship visits; and officer exchanges, including
for mid- and junior-grade officers and between military
education institutions, according to the report.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met in November with Chinese
Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan and said, "the United States
has a relationship with China that is candid, constructive,
and cooperative. Minister Cao and I discussed ways to build on
positive momentum in our defense relations, and how to use
these interactions to improve communications and reduce the
risk of misunderstanding."
On Feb. 29, the two countries agreed on establishing a
telephone link between their respective defense departments.
Officials believe the link will be operational this month.
Still, U.S. officials would be more comfortable with China's
military expansion if it understood the country's overall
intentions, officials said.
"The United States welcomes the rise of a stable, peaceful,
and prosperous China," the report reads. "The United States
continues to encourage China to participate as a responsible
international stakeholder by taking on a greater share of
responsibility for the stability, resilience and growth of the
global system. However, much uncertainty surrounds China's
future course, in particular in the area of its expanding
military power and how that power might be used."
In our estimation, China is the the United States' top
long-term military threat. If
economic power equals military power, then China is the new
world military heavyweight.
Iraq has shown the world, and China, that the United States
can conquer you, but not defeat you. But China won't need an
insurgency to fight the US. China is procuring and acquiring
thousands of planes, tanks, and other war materials. Having
stolen plans to many of America's most technologically
advanced weapons, the ever-resourceful Chinese are quickly
catching up to the U.S. in all aspects of the military
spectrum. China is the new Soviet Union! But there is one
critical difference. Unlike the Soviet Union, China has a
roaring state-controlled capitalist economy. China won't
crumble from within because of economic inefficiencies.
Chinese are meticulous planners. There should be no argument
that the Chinese are planning the eventual takeover of Taiwan,
whether it be in five years or fifty. It's not sure that even
the Chinese have a concrete timetable for the conquest of
Taiwan, but they are taking steps and they will jump at the
chance when the odds are in their favor. Of course, China
could pull off a political coup and gain Taiwan without firing
a shot. Or overwhelming Chinese military might could force the
capitulation of Taiwan, also without firing a shot. Or the
Chinese, in the years after the 2008 Olympics, and after
gaining regional military superiority over U.S. and allied
forces, could launch a full-scale military assault to reclaim
full-scale assault on Taiwan could cripple the United States
naval fleet. Does America want to risk the bulk of its Carrier
Battle Groups, floating half a world away, against an enemy
that has hundreds of airstrips and thousands of planes?
Whether yes or no, the fall of Taiwan will signal a worldwide
tilt in economic power. Except for South Korea, China and
Taiwan account for a good part of the world's supply of
advanced computer components and a host of other high-tech
components. (Plus, the U.S. could lose more Top Secret
material to the Chinese if American military facilities in
Taiwan, including eavesdropping posts, are captured. The
equipment the US left behind in Panama was immense and
regrettable, and Jimmy Carter and all those responsible for
the abandoned equipment should be tried and convicted. But
this loss will pale in comparison to what America could lose
Beyond Taiwan, China is making inroads across Asia and Africa.
And they are slowly turning to the Western Hemisphere as well!
Imagine the Chinese military in Cuba, Venezuela or even Mexico! It could
happen, considering that some Latin American countries, having
become disenchanted with American capitalism, could welcome an
alternative to the United States.
In a nutshell, the United States needs to wean itself from the
mass production of China. The United States defeated the
Soviet Union by strangling its economy, in part by dumping ten
dollar a barrel oil on the world market with the help of Saudi
Arabia. If China isn't reaping tens of billions from the U.S.
economy each year, then it won't have as much money for
And the United States needs to start shoring up strategic
alliances in the Far East. Of note, the United States needs to
become India's best friend. India has a budding economy and a
billion people of its own (many of whom speak English).
The current situation between the U.S. and China is sort of
like the tipping point in a game of Risk, where one player
gains control over a couple of continents and the armies start
multiplying for one side and diminishing for the other. With
the trade imbalance as it is with China, and with a BILLION
resourceful Chinese people, we might be at that tipping point.
Only long-range planning and actual implementation by the
United States can turn this tide.