Pentagon: Chinese pilots 'likely' training for US targets

Elias Hubbard
August 17, 2018

China is actively developing its fleet of long-range bombers and "likely" training its pilots for missions targeting the USA, according to a new Pentagon report.

During the flights, in August and November, the bombers flew through the Miyako Strait near the Japanese island of Okinawa, where 47,000 U.S. troops are based.

China is deploying "increasingly advance military capabilities meant to coerce Taiwan" in a bid to prevent self-governing Taiwan from declaring independence, CNN reported quoting the report as saying.

The report noted that these flights could be "used as a strategic signal to regional states", but the PLA hasn't been clear about "what messages such flights communicate beyond a demonstration of improved capabilities".

"US military aircraft, this is China. leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding", a representative of the PLA said.

China is transforming its ground forces to "fight and win", it is warned.

Beijing has said it is necessary for the Asian powerhouse to keep growing its military presence in the South China Sea in order to protect its sovereignty.

President Xi Jinping a year ago ordered the PLA to step up efforts, saying China needed a military ready to "fight and win" wars.

The Pentagon report also sounded a warning over China's plans to introduce floating nuclear power plants on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

The Pentagon says China's military capacity in space is on the rise too, despite what the report calls a "public stance" from Beijing against the militarization of space.

It is estimated China spent more than $190bn (£149bn) on defence past year, with the Pentagon predicting a rise to $240bn (188bn) by 2028. -China relations. The two countries are in the middle of a trade war, with each side applying tit-for-tat sanctions on things like soy and oil imports.

It is estimated that China spent upwards of $190 billion in 2017 on its military.

"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", it states.

What else does the report say?

China and several neighbouring countries have been locked in a bitter and long-running dispute over who controls territories in the South China Sea, a region rich in natural resources.

The US is watching these developments closely, as the Pentagon believes that "great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of US national security", as Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis explained earlier this year.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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