Washington: The US Defense Department in a new report says that China may have already established a nuclear triad, which includes the ability to launch nuclear-capable missiles from the air, ground and sea.
The report also says that the accelerated pace of advancements in Beijing’s nuclear capability may enable China to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027.
Its China Military Power Report provides background on China’s national strategy, foreign policy goals, economic plans and military development.
“The PRC has possibly already established a nascent ‘nuclear triad’ with the development of a nuclear-capable, air-launched ballistic missile and improvement of its ground- and sea-based nuclear capabilities,” the report reads.
The Pentagon states that the “PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030 — exceeding the pace and the size projected” in last year’s report.
New to the report this year is a section on the Chinese military’s chemical and biological research efforts. It says China has engaged in biological activities with potential dual-use applications and that this raises concerns regarding its compliance with the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The report concludes that China continues to be clear in its ambitions to be competitive with world-class military powers.
“The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen its ability to fight and win wars, to use their own phrase, against what the PRC refers to as a ‘strong enemy’ — again, another phrase that appears in their publications. And a ‘strong enemy,’ of course, is very likely a euphemism for the United States,” an official said.
According to the report, a big part of China’s effort to match the strength of a “strong enemy” involves major modernization and reform efforts within China’s army.
Those efforts include an ongoing effort to achieve “mechanization,” which the report describes as the Chinese army’s efforts to modernize its weapons and equipment to be networked into a “systems of systems” and to also utilize more advanced technologies suitable for “informatized” and “intelligentized” warfare. Also of significance are China’s efforts to project military power outside its own borders.
“The PRC is seeking to establish a more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure to allow the PLA to project and sustain military power at greater distances,” the official said.
“We’re talking about not just within the immediate environments, environments in the Indo-Pacific, but throughout the Indo-Pacific region and indeed, around the world.”
The official said China’s army has sought to modernize its capabilities and improve its proficiency across all warfare domains, so that, as a joint force, it can conduct the range of land, air, and maritime operations that are envisioned in army publications, as well as in space, counter space, electronic warfare and cyber operations.