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China's Rapidly Modernizing Military Has U.S. Senior Officials Concerned

China's Rapidly Modernizing Military Has U.S. Senior Officials Concerned

The senior USA defense intelligence official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, did not predict that China's military, known as the People's Liberation Army (PLA), would take such a step but said such a possibility was the top worry as China expands and modernizes its military capabilities.

"The biggest concern is that as a lot of these technologies mature...[the Chinese] 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, speaking under the condition of anonymity.

China's efforts to enhance its presence overseas, such as establishing its first foreign military base in Djibouti and boosting economic connectivity by reinvigorating the New Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Road under the "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI), could enable the PLA to project power at even greater distances from the Chinese mainland, it said.

That has led to Beijing ratcheting up economic, military and diplomatic pressure on the island of 23 million.

While DIA is most concerned about an eventual military action against Taiwan, in the near future its primary concerns rest in the South and East China Seas, where the Chinese military has built up and militarized artificial islands in areas claimed by China and other nations.

Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan at the end of the civil war in 1949 when the Communists took control of mainland China, but as the island has transformed into one of the region's most vibrant democracies it has become increasingly assertive of its own identity.

China's military will "pay any price" to ensure China's sovereignty, Li told Richardson at their Tuesday meeting.




"China's leaders hope that possessing these military capabilities will deter pro-independence moves by Taiwan or, should deterrence fail, will permit a range of tailored military options against Taiwan and potential third-party military intervention", the report said.

But some in Taiwan say worsening relations with Beijing have harmed business, as cuts to pensions and a reduction in public holidays compound frustrations over a stagnant economy where salaries have not kept up with the rise in cost of living.

The ministry reiterated that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign nation, a fact that would not be changed by China's actions, saying that such acts of bullying would only further "widen the rift between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait".

The official also cautioned that China's military still faced gaps in its capabilities. "I think that they are fairly comfortable with the progress they've made in building out this infrastructure down there, and then working on negotiations with the other claimant states over a longer term", the senior defense official said.

Sounding this warning in its latest report on "China's global expansion by military and non-military means", the US Pentagon says Beijing also "completed" over $20 billion of military sales and transfers as a component of its foreign policy just between 2012 and 2016 to become the world's fifth largest arms supplier.

US defense officials have become particularly alarmed about China's advances in super-fast "hypersonic" technology, which could allow it to field missiles that are far harder to detect.

China's most terrifying weapons are the most advanced in their field in the world. "In some areas, it already leads the world".

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