Pentagon: Chinese military 'likely training' for strikes against United States and allies

Mattis gestures

Report says People's Liberation Army has rapidly expanded bomber operating areas for likely strikes against the U.S.; Jennifer Griffin reports on the details.

It notes China has significantly bolstered its bombing capabilities and is "likely training for strikes against US and allied targets". The defense expenditure is expected to rise to $240 billion over 10 years.

And there also fears the Asian superpower's rocket programme could be a cover for some kind of futuristic "star wars" military project in space.

Chinese bombers are increasingly active and flying farther from China's shores, according to a Department of Defence report released Thursday.

China's military has expanded its bomber operations in recent years while "likely training for strikes" against the USA and its allies, a Pentagon report says.

China has been expanding what appear to be military facilities on islands in the South China Sea and has landed bombers on the outposts during training exercises.

China is in the process of modernising its military in an attempt to fulfil Chinese President Xi Jinping's vision of a world-class military that can fight and win wars in any theatre of combat by the middle of this century.

"The goal of these reforms is to create a more mobile, modular, lethal ground force capable of being the core of joint operations", it says.

"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. U.S. intelligence has raised concerns over China's growing influence in the Pacific, a stronghold of the United States for years.

Media captionA BBC team flew over the disputed South China Sea islands in a United States military plane.

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China sees Taiwan as a renegade province, while the U.S. backs its independence.

The annual report to Congress, released on Thursday (Aug 16), highlights China's growing military, economic and diplomatic clout, and how Beijing is leveraging this to rapidly build its worldwide footprint and establish regional dominance.

Beijing's been spreading its influence for years in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

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

Tensions also continue in the non-military sphere. The US and China have announced tariffs on a range of each other's goods.

It is now focused on the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, a massive infrastructure plan to connect China with other countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

What is being done to defuse tensions?

Officially, China advocates for a peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but it has never repudiated the use of military force, the document notes.

Despite tensions, in June, James Mattis became the first U.S. defence secretary to visit China since 2014.

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