China has been quietly training its pilots for long-range bomber missions — and the Pentagon now fears that the country is “likely” practicing for World War III.
“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 US and allied targets,” the Pentagon said in a report released Thursday.
In addition, “China is developing a stealthy, long-range strategic bomber with a nuclear delivery capability that could be operational within the next 10 years.”
If it succeeds, “the deployment and integration of nuclear capable bombers would, for the first time, provide China with a nuclear ‘triad’ of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air,” the Pentagon said.
The Chinese government has already constructed its first overseas base — in the East African nation of Djibouti — and are now seeking to “establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” according to officials.
The Pentagon’s report also pointed out how China was rapidly boosting its space program.
“The PLA continues to strengthen its military space capabilities despite its public stance against the militarization of space,” it said. “[China wants] to expand space surveillance capabilities that can monitor objects across the globe and in space and enable counterspace actions.”
Officials noted how the Chinese had already started developing galactic weapons systems, including “kinetic-kill missiles, ground-based lasers and orbiting space robots.”
The Trump administration, meanwhile, hopes to get its “Space Force” off the ground by 2020.
The Pentagon released its assessment on Thursday as tensions continue to rise between the US and China over trade. The Chinese have been conducting military exercises with its long-range bombers for months — landing them on islands and reefs in the South China Sea.
Back in May, the Pentagon was said to have rescinded its invitation to Beijing to take part in the international Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercise — and China didn’t take it lightly.
“This is a rash decision,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in response.
“China is only building civilian and necessary defense facilities on our own islands,” he added. “It is the right of every sovereign state to preserve and defend itself. This is a normal deployment and has nothing to do with militarization, just like the US has a military presence on Hawaii and Guam. However, China’s deployment is on a much smaller scale … We don’t wish to see any exaggeration or hype over this matter.”
The Chinese government did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Pentagon’s report.
Source: New York Post