China has increased its military spending and capabilities in recent years and is probably conducting exercises designed to train the army for strikes against U.S. targets, according to a report from the Pentagon.
What are the details?
On Thursday, the Office of the Secretary of Defense released its annual report to Congress regarding military and security developments involving the People's Republic of China. The assessment states:
"Over the last three years, the [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 Defense Department also warned of China's efforts to expand its air strike range in the region.
"The PLA may continue to extend its operations beyond the first island chain, demonstrating the capability to strike U.S. and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam," according to the report.
China is also focusing more on military spending, the report said. Currently, the country dedicates an estimated $190 billion to its annual defense budget, which is roughly a third of what the U.S. spends. DOD officials expect China to increase its defense budget to $240 billion over the next decade.
China is also rapidly expanding its space program "despite its public stance against the militarization of space," according to the report.
Has China responded to the report's claims?
An op-ed published in China's state-run Global Times on Friday took issue with the Defense Department's assessment. Titled, "U.S. report on China's military reveals its guilty conscience," the editorial states, "The U.S.' technical analysis of the PLA capability is one thing, the Pentagon's publication of the analysis to hype the 'China threat' is another.
"As big a power with by far the biggest defense budget in the world, the U.S. does not hold moral ground allowing it to hype the military threat of other nations. When the U.S. appears so bold to hype the threat, it proves Washington has totally lost its moral ground and conscience."
But the piece also confirmed that China is working to expand its military prowess, saying "the PLA will surely develop its air force with long-range strike capability," and "China is developing its strategic nuclear capability."