China Preps for Assault With Tips Learned From Russia

Government looks to limit the effect of potential sanctions as it builds up military capability
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 20, 2023 1:21 PM CDT
China Preps for Assault With Tips Learned From Russia
This image from video provided by the Department of Defense, shows an intercept of a US warplane by Chinese aircraft in the Pacific Ocean on June 23, 2022.   (Department of Defense via AP)

A Pentagon report on China's military power says Beijing is exceeding previous projections of how quickly it is building up its nuclear weapons arsenal and is "almost certainly" learning lessons from Russia's war in Ukraine about what a conflict over Taiwan might look like, per the AP. The report released Thursday also warns that China may be pursuing a new intercontinental missile system using conventional arms that, if fielded, would allow Beijing "to threaten conventional strikes against targets in the continental United States, Hawaii and Alaska." The China report comes a month before an expected meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden on the sidelines of next month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.

The annual report, required by Congress, is one way the Pentagon measures the growing military capabilities of China, which the US government sees as its key threat in the region and America's primary long-term security challenge. Last year's report warned that Beijing was rapidly modernizing its nuclear force and was on track to nearly quadruple the number of warheads it has to 1,500 by 2035. The 2023 report finds that Beijing is on pace to field more than 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, continuing a rapid modernization aimed at meeting Xi's goal of having a "world class" military by 2049. After the previous report, China accused the US of ratcheting up tensions and Beijing said it was still committed to a "no first use" policy on nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon has seen no indication that China is moving away from that policy but assesses there may be some circumstances where China might judge that it does not apply, a senior US defense said without providing details. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its control, by force if necessary. Xi has given his military until 2027 to develop the military capability to retake the self-ruled island democracy that the Communist Party claims as its own territory. The US has committed billions of dollars in military weapons to Taiwan to build up its defenses. But China also has devoted billions to its military. And the report notes it's working toward industrial and economic self-reliance after seeing the impact of Western sanctions against Moscow during Russia's assault on Ukraine. (More China stories.)

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