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Pentagon: China likely training bombers to strike US

People's Liberation Army Air Force Xian HY-6 at Zhuhai Airshow. (Li Pang/Wikimedia Commons)
August 17, 2018

A new Pentagon report revealed startling new details on Chinese military activity that has U.S. officials on alert.

In an annual report to Congress, the Pentagon explained the status of China, risks and military activity, including speculation that Chinese bombers are practicing for strikes on the U.S., according to a Friday report by French news outlet Agence France-Presse, via Yahoo News.

“Over the last three years, the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets,” the report says.

The report notes that China has been developing their air power, in addition to capabilities for hitting long-range targets. The report said that the Chinese military may already have the “capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam.”

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Previous activities by the Chinese military have suggested an apparent readiness to engage in aggression. The U.S. military was on alert in August 2017 when six H-6K Chinese bombers flew near Okinawa where approximately 47,000 U.S. troops are stationed.

Just months earlier, the PLA underwent significant transformations of several military units as part of major structural reforms. The PLA currently boasts almost one million troops – the world’s largest ground force.

“The purpose of these reforms is to create a more mobile, modular, lethal ground force capable of being the core of joint operations and able to meet Xi Jinping’s directive to ‘fight and win wars,'” the report said.

Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered the PLA to increase its efforts to prepare the military to “fight and win” wars. China has been steadily expanding the size and capabilities of its military, aiming for a goal of 2050 to establish the leading military in the world.

Last year’s Pentagon report predicted that China would establish bases overseas in countries like Pakistan as part of its military expansion process. The prediction was refuted by China, who called it “irresponsible.” The same prediction has been included in this year’s report.

China has spent much of the last two years militarizing artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, despite a 2015 agreement with former President Obama vowing not to militarize the islands.

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The Pentagon report also projects that China is planning to forcefully reclaim Taiwan, an ally of the U.S.

“The PLA also is likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with China by force, while simultaneously deterring, delaying, or denying any third-party intervention on Taiwan’s behalf,” the report states.

“Should the United States intervene, China would try to delay effective intervention and seek victory in a high-intensity, limited war of short duration,” it added.

In early June, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused China of “intimidating and coercion” toward Taiwan as it flew bombers near the island province. China referred to Taiwan a “wayward province” and said it may need to be controlled using force.

It is unclear what message China attempted to convey by carrying out its bombing practice drills. Chinese officials have not yet commented on the activity.