The US report said that China has developed a comprehensive defence industry complex, has switched to domestically produced fighter jet engines and is focusing on next generation capabilities for multiple domain precision warfare.
On the nuclear front, the US estimates that China’s warheads stockpile has surpassed 400 and, at the current rate, it could be expanded to 1,500 warheads by 2035. The report details Chinese efforts to improve nuclear weapons delivery platforms like long range missiles, strategic bombers as well as submarines.
The border tensions with India find special mention in the annual report, with the Pentagon noting that Chinese deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is likely to continue and the People’s Liberation Army has been continuing build-up of infrastructure. The Pentagon also believes that China has been making efforts to deter growing India-US ties.
“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) seeks to prevent border tensions from causing India to partner more closely with the United States. PRC officials have warned US officials to not interfere with the PRC’s relationship with India,” it read.
Post the bloody clash at Galwan in 2020, India and the US have worked closely to monitor Chinese troops and movements along the border. The US provided special winter clothing for Indian soldiers deployed on the front and has been assisting with satellite imagery and intelligence. Drones leased from the US have also been deployed by India to monitor Chinese troop movements along Ladakh.
Noting its close ties to Pakistan, the report said sophisticated weapons are being transferred by China, including armed drones and a deal for supply of new generation submarines to the Pakistani Navy. It also mentions the presence of a PLA Strategic Support Force (SSF) facility in Pakistan. The Pentagon said that it is likely that China is considering overseas bases, including one in Pakistan.
“Beyond the PLA support base in Djibouti, the PRC is very likely already considering and planning for additional military logistics facilities to support naval, air, and ground forces projection,” the report said, adding that countries under consideration include Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
On the Djibouti base, which started operations in 2017, the Pentagon believes Chinese aircraft carriers and submarines could be accommodated in the future. Noting that in March, a large Chinese Navy supply ship docked at the base, the report said the “pier likely is able to accommodate the PLA Navy’s aircraft carriers, other large combatants, and submarines”.