China seeking ‘world class’ military by 2049: Pentagon report

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China seeking 'world class' military by 2049: Pentagon report

China already has the world’s largest navy with about 355 ships, but the country is rapidly increasing ​its armed forces to fulfill President Xi Jinping’s vow to transform the People’s Liberation Army into a “world class” military by 2049, according to a report from the Defense Department.

It said China pursued objectives throughout 2020 to modernize its armed forces and improve combat readiness — including the capacity to carry out long-range precision strikes and the ability to conduct “increasingly sophisticated space, counterspace and cyber capabilities.”

China also expanded its nuclear forces.

“The PRC is increasingly clear in its ambitions and intentions. Beijing seeks to reshape the international order to better align with its authoritarian system and national interests, as a vital component of its strategy to achieve the ​’​great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,’” according to the report provided annually to Congress, referring to China by its formal name, the People’s Republic of China.  

“According to this worldview, the accrual of the PRC’s comprehensive national power, including military power, is necessary to set the conditions for Beijing to assert its preferences on a global scale​,” it continued.

Chinese naval vessel
China already has the world’s biggest Navy with approximately 355 ships.
Alexander Demianchuk/TASS

The report — “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China”​ ​– said Xi laid out plans in 2017 to complete the modernization of the PLA by 2035 and transform it into a “world class” military by 2049.

The country is doing so by merging foreign policy, economic power, defense and military strategies, and its government and politics systems into one master plan.

“The PLA has sought to modernize its capabilities and improve its proficiencies across all warfare domains so that as a joint force it can conduct the range of land, air, and maritime operations as well as space, counterspace, electronic warfare​, and cyber operations​,” the Pentagon report said. 

Chinese military
The People’s Liberation Army has 975,000 active duty personnel in combat units.
VCG via Getty Images

The report said that China numerically has the largest navy in the world with roughly 355 ships and submarines.

“In the near-term, the PLAN will have the capability to conduct long-range precision strikes against land targets from its submarine and surface combatants using land-attack cruise missiles, notably enhancing the PRC’s global power projection capabilities. The PRC is enhancing its anti-submarine warfare capabilities and comp​etencies to protect the PLAN’s aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines,’ the report said.​​

The People’s Liberation Army has 975,000 active duty personnel in combat units and has accelerated its training and fielding of equipment at a pace exceeding that of recent years. ​

Chinese artillery
China is expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities faster than predicted.
Barcroft Media via Getty Images

China is also expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities faster than previously predicted and could increase the number of nuclear warheads it has by 700 in the next six years. 

The rapid acceleration of Beijing’s nuclear stockpile, which could top 1,000 deliverable warheads by 2030, is designed to match and even surpass the US’ global military might, according to ​the 192-page report.

​It did not note how many nuclear weapons ​China has currently, but the Pentagon said the number was in the “low 200s” last year.

Chinese soldiers near helicopter
​China’s air force is the world’s third largest, the report says, with more than 2,800 total aircraft – 2,250 consist of fighters, strategic bombers and attack aircraft.
AFP via Getty Images

The US has 3,750 nuclear weapons in its stockpile and doesn’t have any plans to increase it.

​China’s air force is the world’s third largest, the report says, with more than 2,800 total aircraft – 2,250 consist of fighters, strategic bombers and attack aircraft.

​The report was released amid China’s increasingly provocative military stance against Taiwan, ​a self-ruled island that China views as a rogue nation and has pledged to reunify with mainland China.

Early last month, China’s military flew dozens of aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense zone.​​

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