A newly released Pentagon unclassified intelligence report authored by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) comes to some shocking and alarming conclusions concerning China's rapid advances in advanced military technology in answer to the question: "What are Beijing's strategic intentions?"
The report finds that as a result of “acquiring technology by any means available” — especially in the areas of naval and missile systems, including intermediate range missiles and hypersonic weapons, capable of allowing missiles to travel at many times the speed of sound — China's defense tech is not only at the cutting edge but “In some areas, it already leads the world.”
The "by any means available" charge leveled at Beijing is a reference to what American political leaders and businesses have slammed as unfair Chinese domestic laws forcing foreign partners to divulge secrets as the cost of doing business in China, with its massive population and ever expanding markets.
The 140-page DIA report is titled simply “China Military Power” and the introduction presents the thesis and purpose of the study according to the following central questions:
“What do we need to know about China?” What is China’s vision of the world and its role in it? What are Beijing’s strategic intentions and what are the implications for Washington? How are the PLA’s roles and missions changing as it becomes a more capable military force?
For over a year Pentagon officials and Washington defense planners have been sounding the alarm over the US rival's rapidly advancing pace of weapons tech and research.
Gen. Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs last year warned concerning China's advances in hypersonic missiles: “If we just sit back and don’t react we will lose our technological superiority” over China, Selva said at a think tank event last June.
The new Pentagon study confirms these warnings by concluding:
“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 notes further that the PLA's advances in air, sea and space, including in cyberspace and cybersecurity, will “enable China to impose its will in the region.”
This comes at a moment when tensions are soaring over the Taiwan question, which China sees as part of its territory. This week a high level Chinese military official, General Li Zuocheng, told the head of the United States Navy, Admiral John Richardson, in a face to face meeting that Beijing would defend its claim to Taiwan "at any cost".
And according to The Guardian China's new confidence and willingness to defend the claims has Pentagon leaders worried:
Speaking to Pentagon reporters, a senior defense intelligence official said he was worried China’s military is now advanced enough that PLA generals could feel confident they could invade Taiwan.
“The biggest concern is that as a lot of these technologies mature... [China] will reach a point where internally within their decision-making they will decide that using military force for a regional conflict is something that is more imminent,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Also of note is that the DIA report comments on China's rapidly developing stealth bomber program "capable of striking regional and global targets."
The report says the advanced jets could enter operational use by 2025 in what would be another huge milestone for the PLA, and of extreme worry to a US military committed to continued sailing through the Taiwan Strait and other "international waters" routes near China.