DOD Submits Annual Report on Chinese Military Developments

  • The Chinese People's Liberation Army has fewer nuclear warheads than outsiders expected, but it is close to reaching the "nuclear trinity."
  • It is estimated that China will double the number of nuclear warheads in the next 10 years from the current 200.
  • Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimated that China has about 320 nuclear warheads, the United States has 3,800, and Russia has about 4,300.

The US Department of Defense submitted its annual “China’s Military and Security Development Report” to Congress on Tuesday. It is estimated that in five years, China will double the number of nuclear warheads in the next 10 years from the current 200. It may threaten the United States.

People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers march next to the entrance to the Forbidden City during the opening ceremony of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Beijing, May 21, 2020.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has fewer nuclear warheads than outsiders expected, but it is close to reaching the “nuclear trinity.” The report also mentions that China has not given up its use of force against Taiwan, and said the armed police force that went to Hong Kong via sea, land, and air from Shenzhen last year is still in Hong Kong.

The report continued that China has the ability to launch nuclear weapons from land and sea through ballistic missiles, and is developing the ability to launch ballistic missiles from the air. In other words, it is close to reaching the “nuclear triad,” that is, it is capable of launching on land, sea, and air.

This is the first time the US military has disclosed the number of Chinese nuclear warheads. Previously, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimated that China has about 320 nuclear warheads, the United States has 3,800, and Russia has about 4,300.

The Pentagon believes that Beijing’s expansion and modernization of nuclear power are to establish a more confident position on the world stage, catching up with or even surpassing the United States, and becoming the dominant force in the Asia-Pacific by 2049.

The report mentioned that China has reached or surpassed the US level in shipbuilding, land-based ballistic missiles, land-based cruise missiles, and integrated air defense systems. Among them, the Chinese navy has the largest number of ships and submarines in the world, with approximately 293 ships and submarines.

Chad Sbragia, Deputy Assistant Secretary for China Affairs of the US Department of Defense, expressed concern about China’s nuclear development. He described the People’s Liberation Army as a tool of China’s national strategy.

“The Chinese Communist Party has spent several years organizing the PLA. After a thorough restructuring, the goal is to become a more combative, innovative, and global joint force.”

Beijing Has Not Renounced Military Force against Taiwan

Regarding the situation in the Taiwan Strait, the report stated that Beijing has not given up a possible invasion of Taiwan. The PLA may adopt naval and air blockades, limited military forces, or mandatory options, air and missile attacks, and invasion of Taiwan. It also pointed out that the PLA considers a credible threat of force to maintain Political progress and preventing Taiwan independence.

Chinese aircraft-carrier killer missile.

According to the report, China’s defense budget has continued to increase, reaching 15 times that of Taiwan’s in 2019. In view of the continuous expansion of cross-strait military imbalances, the US continues to sell arms to Taiwan based on the Taiwan Relations Act, and six guarantees to ensure that Taiwan has self-defense abilities.

Armed Police Entered Hong Kong via Land, Sea, and Air

On the other hand, the report mentioned that when the PLA Hong Kong Garrison was rotated in August last year, there may have been armed police forces entering Hong Kong from Shenzhen via sea, land, and air.

However, no troops were withdrawn from Hong Kong. The authorities announced the rotation and did not mention it. After the rotation of the troops, the number of garrison posts and equipment is the same as before the rotation.

During several consecutive months of anti-extradition demonstrations, the People’s Liberation Army and the armed police have publicly demonstrated anti-riot, anti-terrorism, and disaster prevention training.

The report also stated that China’s military used social media to spread pro-Beijing views in an attempt to influence public opinion. Facebook and Twitter deleted some accounts related to China in August last year, suspected of publishing fake news about the Hong Kong demonstration.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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