The Pentagon report on China

Photo: National Historic Landmark Nomination

The US built the most powerful war machine the world has ever known. And the whole army, to stay on top, need to know your possible enemies perfectly. By the way, this was already taught by the Chinese Sun Tzu, there is 2,5 a thousand years.

The US Ministry of Defense has just sent Congress its annual report on China. It is the 20th edition of the study, which carefully analyzes Chinese Defense policies and strategies and tracks the material and doctrinal development of the People's Liberation Army (ELP).

With 200 pages, the document finds that the PLA has been strengthened and modernized in almost all possible dimensions. There are some aspects, inclusive, where Chinese military capabilities already outnumber US capabilities.

From start, the report describes the Chinese strategy, which aims to take the country, no year of 2049, centenary of the revolution that brought the Communist Party to power, to the “Chinese Dream”, described hair president Xi Jinping: a position of prosperity, strength and leadership on the international stage.

To achieve this goal, the strategy states that the complete “reunification” of the Chinese nation is non-negotiable, meaning the return of Taiwan to full sovereignty in China and the total reintegration of Hong Kong and Macau. The report also highlights an increasingly assertive stance in the field of Chinese foreign policy, especially in recent years, moment when Chinese military power was better able to support the country's aspirations.

Chinese economic development is central to the country achieving its modernization goals in all areas, even military. Always according to the Pentagon's understanding, the Chinese government would use the “One Belt” initiatives as its main economic induction tools, One Road”, infrastructure investment, “Made in China 2025”, promoting technological and industrial development, as well as protectionist policies, in addition to “economic coercion” tools.

By focusing on the Chinese armed forces, American analysts highlight their modernization efforts, with a view to becoming “world-class” forces, in 2049. That means being proficient in ground combat, naval, aerial, as well as in the space environments, electronic and cyber warfare. The document warns that China would have already achieved parity - and even exceeded - US military capabilities in several areas, especially in shipbuilding capabilities, conventional ballistic and cruise missiles and integrated air defense systems.

There are six Chinese armed forces, all members of the PLA and directly subordinate to the Central Military Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Beyond the army, navy and air force, the country has the “Rocket Force”, responsible for conventional and nuclear ballistic missiles; with the “Strategic Support Force”, in charge of centralizing space operations, cybernetic, electronic and psychological and the “Joint Logistic Support Force”,  entrusted with integrated logistical support to the entire PLA.

In the last years, the Chinese effort to increase the level of combat readiness is evident. Large-scale joint exercises have reached increasingly higher levels of complexity. Training scenarios are increasingly realistic, with the use of simulation technologies and the presence of an enemy “blue force” that evaluates rigorously and increasingly demands the performance of commanders at all levels.

Besides that, China maintains sufficient nuclear capacity to deter any attack on its territory. This capability is based on the belief that the country would be able to preserve its nuclear weapons from a first attack and, in retaliation, strike back with your arsenal.

The ELP has expanded its global operations. Greater presence on humanitarian aid missions, naval escorts of merchant trains, UN peace operations, military exchanges, arms sales and multinational military exercises are the most visible tools of this power projection.

The detailed analysis of the document prepared by the Pentagon for the North American Congress is an interesting exercise for all those who are willing to understand the dynamics of relations between the two countries., in particular the concerns of the US defense state. It is evident that a document of this nature is always written with the intention of demonstrating the large amount of resources necessary to maintain the American armed forces in the global leadership position in which it finds itself today.. And it is the congress of that country that holds the key to the safe. But it is a study based on solid data and arguments, that accurately unveils Chinese military power.

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Army Cavalry Officer, graduated from the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras, in 1990. He was commander of the 11th Mechanized Cavalry Regiment, in Ponta Porã / MS; instructor at the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras, the School for the Improvement of Officers and the Army Command and Staff School.
Currently serves on the Ground Operations Command - RATE - in Brasília / DF.

Published articles are of personal opinion. Does not speak on behalf of the Army. The ideas expressed here are the result of his professional experience and the studies he carried out.