Issue Brief on “Pentagon Report on Chinese Military Developments: An Assessment”

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Pentagon recently released its annual report to the US Congress on China’s military build-up titled, “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020,”[1] a tradition that the Pentagon has embarked upon for the last two decades. The report encapsulates various ingredients of China’s military plans – land, air and sea – to become the “world-class military” by the end of 2049 – a goal first announced by General Secretary Xi Jinping in 2017.[2]

The report reflects the military balance between Washington and Beijing since the release of the National Defense Strategy in 2018. It makes claims regarding China’s desire to multiply its stockpile of nuclear warheads in the next decade, and alleges that the Chinese military has already equaled or surpassed the US in a series of key areas, including warheads designed to carry atop ballistic missiles that can reach the US mainland. The report further claims that Beijing is well on its way to become a match for the US or even exceeds the power of the US armed forces as it now controls the largest navy in the world, with roughly 350 ships and submarines compared to 293 for the US.

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