Pentagon report: Major Beijing buildup includes high tech, ‘disruptive’ weapons
China is continuing a large-scale military buildup of high-tech forces that includes “disruptive” anti-satellite missiles, new strategic forces, and computer attack weapons, the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on the Chinese military says.
“China has made steady progress in recent years in developing offensive nuclear, space, and cyber warfare capabilities — the only aspects of China’s armed forces that, today, have the potential to be truly global,” says the report titled “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)” that was released March 25.
While noting that China has limited ability to sustain power far from its shores, the report warns that Beijing’s communist-controlled armed forces “continue to develop and field disruptive military technologies, including those for anti-access/area-denial, as well as for nuclear, space, and cyber warfare, that are changing regional military balances and that have implications beyond the AsiaPacific region.”
Anti-access and area denial weapons include large numbers of precision-guided ballistic and cruise missiles and submarines that are designed to attack aircraft carriers, the report said.
The report also criticized China’s arms sales to countries like Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe. It noted that Chinese arms supplied to Iran “were found to have been transferred to terrorist organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“This is a serious issue that the United States continues to monitor,” the report said.
Under a section on significant developments over the past year, this year’s report for the first time described China’s military efforts to develop and wage computer warfare by attacking networks and electronic infrastructure.
“In 2008, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be the target of intrusions that appear to have originated within the PRC,” the report said.
The report said it is “unclear” whether the attacks were carried out by the Chinese military or with its support, or by other elements of the Chinese government.
“However, developing capabilities for cyber warfare is consistent with authoritative PLA military writings on the subject,” the report said.
Larry Wortzel, co-chairman of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said the latest report reflects the Chinese military’s ambitions “to be a major military power with global reach.”
Richard Fisher, a specialist on the China military with the private International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the report “should be required reading for those proposing major U.S. military reductions like ending production of the F-22A fifth-generation fighter, reducing U.S. carrier battle groups and unilaterally disarming future U.S. space warfare and robust missile defense capabilities.”
Typically, China criticizes the annual report the day after it is released, asserting that its rise as a global power is not hostile. Before the release of this year’s report, Maj. Gen. Qian Lihua, director of the Chinese Defense Ministry Foreign Affairs Office, warned in a published article that the report would damage U.S.-China military relations.
Anti-aircraft and ballistic missiles on display at Beijing’s militar y museum.