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China ‘likely’ training pilots to target US, Pentagon report says

China ‘likely’ training pilots to target US, Pentagon report says

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.

Long-range bomber training missions "targeting the US" - this is how the USA mainstream media reported the findings of the Pentagon's annual assessment of Chinese military capabilities in 2017, published Thursday. China now has only one overseas base, in the East African country of Djibouti, and its military budget for 2018 was estimated at $175 billion.

China continues to develop counter-space capabilities, "including kinetic-kill missiles, ground-based lasers and orbiting space robots" and also working "to expand space surveillance capabilities that can monitor objects across the globe and in space and enable counter-space actions", the report added.

The "Annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" is a U.S. government report mandated by Congress, which details Chinese military developments over the previous year.

"Over the last three years, the PLA has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against USA and allied targets", it added.

"The PLA may continue to extend its operations beyond the first island chain, demonstrating the capability to strike USA and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam".

"The goal of these reforms is to create a more mobile, modular, lethal ground force capable of being the core of joint operations and able to meet Xi Jinping's directive to 'fight and win wars, '" the Pentagon report notes.

"The goal of these reforms is to create a more mobile, modular, lethal ground force capable of being the core of joint operations", the report says. USA intelligence has raised concerns over China's growing influence in the Pacific, a stronghold of the United States for years. Starting with the United States, which objects to its growing trade deficit with China, both sides have announced tariffs on a range of each others' goods.

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The US military regularly seeks to demonstrate freedom of navigation by flying over the South China Sea.

The Pentagon report also sounded a warning over China's plans to introduce floating nuclear power plants on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

The US also continues to maintain a substantial military presence in Japan, which has its own territorial disputes with China and the Philippines.

In regards to Taiwan, the reports warns that China "is likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with China by force".

The US is watching Chinese activities carefully as China's power grows in what the Pentagon argues is an era of renewed "great power competition".

No violation of Japanese airspace was detected, but Tokyo, a key United States ally, has accused China of "expanding and increasing" its military activity in the region.

Media captionHow US defence spending plan compares to allies and rivals.

In June, US defence secretary Jim Mattis became the first Pentagon chief to visit China since 2014.