Amid increasing tensions with Beijing, the Pentagon on Tuesday released a new report that lays out USA concerns about China's growing military might, underscoring worries about a possible attack against Taiwan.
"The result of this multifaceted approach to technology acquisition is a PLA (People's Liberation Army) on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world", the report says.
DIA Director Robert Ashley said: "Beijing's longstanding interest to eventually compel Taiwan's reunification with the mainland and deter any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence has served as the primary driver for China's military modernisation".
"The PLA [People's Liberation Army] is acquiring a range of technologies to improve China's counterspace capabilities", the agency adds.
The report estimates that Chinese spending on its armed forces "probably exceeded $200 billion" in 2018, "a threefold increase since 2002".
According to the report, China's military strategy reflects its drive to establish a coherent, unified approach to managing national security in a world where Beijing perceives that China's expanding interests have made it more vulnerable at home and overseas. "Domestic laws forced foreign partners of Chinese-based joint ventures to release their technology in exchange for entry into China's lucrative market, and China has used other means to secure needed technology and expertise", Ashley said.
American officials have routinely scolded China's militarization of the Spratly and Parcel islands, which China claims outright, and tensions have grown in recent years as the United States regularly sails warships through the region on freedom of navigation operations.
A senior defense official said the U.S. was concerned that China's increased capabilities may lead its military commanders to advise its political leaders that they were confident of military success with regard to a campaign against Taiwan.
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"These countries continue to develop, test and proliferate sophisticated anti-satellite weapons to hold USA and allied space assets at risk", the Air Force report says.
After making some of the most advanced weapons in the world China is in the cusp of imposing its will in the region, which includes India.
"China also has developed the world's first roadmobile, anti-ship ballistic missile, a system specifically created to attack enemy aircraft carriers", it says.
Under its "one-China" policy, the ruling Communist Party has always said it wants to bring Taiwan under its control, whether by diplomacy or by force.
"We make no promise to give up the use of military force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means" against Taiwanese separatist activities and "outside forces" that interfere with reunification, he said.
And a year ago the Pentagon disinvited China to a major, multinational Pacific exercise, citing Beijing's militarisation of man-made islands in the South China Sea.
China has planned to construct about 1.3 million kilometers of roads and 26,000 kilometers of expressways by 2020 to bolster its military's ability to mobilise more expediently across greater spans of the country, the Pentagon has told the US Congress.
"I think in a lot of ways, they have a lot that they need to do", the official said.