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The war of words between Washington and Beijing is just one more chapter in newly cold cross-Pacific relations.
Earlier this month the Pentagon warned that the China was joining the United States and Russia as the top nations capable of deploying nuclear weapons on land, in the air and from at sea. China was on the cusp of reaching the “triad” of delivery systems, the 200 page report to the United States Congress suggested.
For twenty years the Department of Defense (DoD) has provided this annual assessment of the military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the first report found the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to be a mostly archaic military that was poorly suited to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) long-term ambitions. Now two decades later, the PLA’s objective is to become a “world-class” military by the end of 2049 and it seems well poised to reach that goal.
The Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020—Annual Report to Congress report warned that China is ahead of the United States in certain areas. These include as shipbuilding, where China now has the largest navy in the world; land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles; and integrated air defense systems.
“More striking than the PLA’s staggering amounts of new military hardware are the recent sweeping efforts taken by CCP leaders that include completely restructuring the PLA into a force better suited for joint operations, improving the PLA’s overall combat readiness, encouraging the PLA to embrace new operational concepts, and expanding the PRC’s overseas military footprint,” the report stated.
More ominously China could expand and diversify its nuclear force, likely at least doubling its nuclear warhead stockpile.
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The Destroyer of World Peace
Despite the fact that the Chinese PLA is the one looking to become a world class military power in the coming decades, Beijing’s response to the report was that the United States is in fact “the destroyer of world peace,” and further suggested that China’s buildup aims to “revise” the international order.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Col Wu Qian called the report a “wanton distortion” of China’s aim and intentions.
“Many years of evidence shows that it is the U.S. that is the fomenter of regional unrest, the violator of the international order and the destroyer of world peace,” he said, noting U.S. actions in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other countries, TheHill.com reported.
Qian pointed to the 800,000 people that have been killed—along with the millions displaced—due to America’s actions in those countries over the past two decades.
“Rather than reflecting on itself, the U.S. issued a so-called report that made false comments about China’s normal defense and military construction,” he added. “We call on the U.S. to view China’s national defense and military construction objectively and rationally, cease making false statements and related reports, and take concrete actions to safeguard the healthy development of bilateral military relations.”
-- This Story First Appeared in The National Interest --
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear includingA Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.