By Sankar Ray
The Pentagon, headquarters of US military establishment, submitted to the US Congress a report, ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2022’ pursuant to the National Defence Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2000.It reflects Pentagon’s concern about China’s military beef-up as it poses a challenge to the hegemonistic power of American military supremacy. The report encapsulates China’s plan to beef up the integrated development of mechanisation, informatisation, and intelligentisation of the PRC’s armed forces, aiming at outmanoeuvring of the American military-industrial complex in a couple of decades.,
The 196-page report reveals “in both classified and unclassified form, on military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China ‘tenets and probable development of Chinese security strategy and military strategy, and of the military organisations and operational concepts supporting such development over the next 20 years. The covert belligerence in PRC’s preparedness is of concern for Washington although Beijing reiterated its commitment to US-China engagement and cooperation on security matters through bilateral military-to-military contacts, for such engagement and cooperation. The report identifies ‘the contours of the People’s Liberation Army’s way of war’, while surveying China’s current activities and capabilities, and assessment of its future military modernisation goals.’
The Pentagon document has noted that PRC in 2021 began reposing greater responsibility on the PLA ‘as an instrument of statecraft as it adopted more coercive and aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific region’. Following completion of modernisation in 2020, the PLA ‘now sets its sights to 2027 with a goal to accelerate the integrated development of mechanisation, informatisation, and intelligentisation of the PRC’s armed forces. If realized, this 2027 objective could give the PLA capabilities to be a more credible military tool for the Chinese Communist Party to wield as it pursues Taiwan unification.’ There is a comparative statement between China and Taiwan in tabular form on China’s all out edge over Taiwan in any eventual military showdown.
Alongside development of PLA’s conventional capabilities, the PRC continues acceleration of the modernisation, diversification, and expansion of its nuclear forces while looking up to strengthening of its “strategic deterrent,” keeping the whole plan discreet as it covers development of PLA’s nuclear, space, and cyberspace capabilities.
The 20th National Congress of the CCP laid down important military and security implications for the PLA’s 2027 centenary objectives while having focused on intensification and acceleration of PLA’s modernisation goals over the next five years, including strengthening its “system of strategic deterrence.” The report mentions how CCP increasingly turns to the PLA in support of its global ambitions. It covers security and military developments involving the PRC until the end of 2021.
The Pentagon report in the sub-section, ‘understanding China’s strategy, mentions PRC’s national strategy that aims to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” by 2049. China ‘increasingly views the United States as deploying a whole-of-government effort meant to contain the PRC’s rise, which presents obstacles to its national strategy’.
Importantly, China describes its view of strategic competition’ in terms of a rivalry among powerful nation states, as well as a clash of opposing ideological systems’ . Leaders of PRC – top brass of CCP -believe that structural changes in the international system and an increasingly confrontational USA ‘are the root causes of intensifying strategic competition’ between the two countries.
One of the special features of China’s armed preparatory plan is what is termed as Military-Civil Fusion Development Strategy that plans to “fuse” its security and development strategies to build an integrated National Strategic System and Capabilities in aid of the PRC’s national rejuvenation goals. It will develop and acquire advanced dual-use technology for military purposes and deepen reform of the national defence science and technology industries, that serves a broader purpose to strengthen all of the PRC’s instruments of national power.
Its six-pronged strategy, attuned to military goals, comprise fusion of China’s defence industrial base and its civilian technology and industrial base; integrating and leveraging science and technology innovations across military and civilian sectors, encouragement to talent and blending of military and civilian expertise and knowledge, building military requirements into civilian infrastructure and leveraging civilian construction, leveraging of civilian service and logistics and expansion and deepening of defence mobilization system to include all relevant aspects of its society and economy for use in competition and war.
China’s space industry, managed by the PLA, is rapidly expanding its intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation, and communication satellite constellations. The successful landing of a rover on Mars and launch of the first and second modules of China’s first long-term space station in 2021 and 2022 demonstrated the industry’s continued progress.
Unlike three traditional trisection infantry, navy and air force, PRC has in addition People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force,. Strategic Support Force and Joint Logistic Support Force, The PLARF organizes, mans, trains, and equips the China’s space industry, managed by the PLA, is rapidly expanding its intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation, and communication satellite constellations. The successful landing of a rover on Mars and launch of the first and second modules of China’s first long-term space station in 2021 and 2022 demonstrated the industry’s continued progress.
PRC’s strategic land-based nuclear and conventional missile forces, associated support forces, and missile bases. The PLARF is advancing its long- term modernisation plans to enhance its strategic deterrence capabilities. The SSF is ‘a theatre command-level organisation established to centralize the PLA’s strategic space, cyberspace, electronic, information, communications, and psychological warfare missions and capabilities’. The JLSF provides integrated joint logistics support for the PLA and concentrates its efforts on improving joint strategic and campaign-level logistic efficiencies through training and on integrating civilian products and services.
China’s arsenal is mammoth with the largest aviation force in the Asia-Pacific region and the third largest in the world, with over 2,800 total aircraft (not including trainer variants or uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) of which approximately 2,250 are combat aircraft (including fighters, strategic bombers, tactical bombers, multi-mission tactical, and attack aircraft).
China has developed a sophisticated, persistent cyber-enabled espionage and attack threat to military and critical infrastructure systems through its efforts to develop, acquire, or gain access to information and advanced technologies. Detected PRC cyberspace operations target telecommunications firms, managed service providers and software developers.
The PLAAF is rapidly catching up to Western air forces and continues to modernise with the delivery of domestically built aircraft and a wide range of UAVs. In October 2019, the PLAAF publicly revealed the H-6N as its first nuclear-capable air-to-air refuelable bomber, signalling the airborne leg of its nuclear triad.. In 2021, it launched approximately 135 ballistic missiles for testing and training. This was more than the rest of the world combined, excluding ballistic missile employment in conflict zones. In 2021, the PRC continued building three solid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silo fields, which will cumulatively contain at least 300 new ICBM silos.
China’s space industry, managed by the PLA, is rapidly expanding its intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation, and communication satellite constellations. The successful landing of a rover on Mars and launch of the first and second modules of China’s first long-term space station in 2021 and 2022 demonstrated the industry’s continued progress. (IPA Service)