Continuing the theme of a newly assertive China, the Congressionally-mandated U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission's latest report to lawmakers highlights the fact that the previously inward-focused nation is getting serious about offensive operations outside its territory.
From the paper's executive summary:
Augmenting its modernization efforts, Beijing has expanded the PLA Air Force’s focus in recent years from solely concentrating on territorial defense operations to now include extraterritorial offensive operations.It goes on to say:
As China’s air and missile modernization efforts progress, Beijing’s ability to threaten U.S. forward deployed forces and bases in the region is improving. Any PLA missile strikes and air raids against U.S. bases, if successful, could force the temporary closure of regional U.S. bases and inhibit the U.S. military’s ability to operate effectively in East Asia. In addition, the future deployment of an antiship ballistic missile could seriously interfere with the U.S. military’s freedom of access to the region.Furthermore, China's rapidly growing civil aviation industry is not only likely to one day rival Western giants like Boeing and Airbus, but also to fuel the development of advanced military technology.
Given the close integration of China’s commercial and military aviation sectors, advances in China’s commercial aviation industry gained through interactions with western aviation manufacturers directly benefit China’s defense aviation industry. As China’s commercial aircraft manufacturing capabilities improve, newly acquired technology and know-how, such as composite materials production, are directly transferred to the defense aviation sector.Among other things, this spells bad news -- in the military sense -- for U.S. ally Taiwan, according to the report.
Over the past decade, China’s aviation industrial base, with the strong support of the Chinese government, has improved substantially. China currently is capable of developing and producing both advanced commercial and military aircraft and seeks to compete with foreign aviation manufacturing companies in the near future. Despite these advances, however, the industry continues to experience some problems, most notably in producing advanced engines.
China’s continued military buildup against Taiwan has resulted in a balance that increasingly favors the mainland, especially in regard to Taiwan’s air defense capabilities.The document goes on to warn that this could someday threaten U.S. interests in the region, including “freedom of navigation." It also says that Asian nations may want to increase ties to the U.S. in order to hedge against rising Chinese power. The paper goes on to discuss more than just defense; it touches on everything from Chinese alternative energy initiatives to Beijing's "Internet-related Activities." While we've heard a lot of this before, any report that informs lawmakers is important since it can influence their decisions on which defense programs to fund and which to cut.
Here's a copy of the report.
Well done to InsideDefense.com for spotting the report.