Although China has made some progress in military transparency, its effort are inadequate, and the nation’s decision to suspend military-to-military contacts with the United States is acting against the interests of both countries, according to an annual report submitted to Congress.
Released yesterday, the “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” report highlights how China’s development into an economic superpower, combined with advancements in science and technology, has allowed the Chinese government to invest more in its military, modernize it and transform its structure, doctrine and strategy, according to the report.
The pace of the transformation effort has increased in the past decade, and China’s military capabilities have developed to influence events well beyond its borders. The Chinese army now can contribute to international peacekeeping efforts, humanitarian assistance and counterpiracy operations. The United States welcomes these capabilities, and wants to work with China to develop them further, the report said.
However, China has developed other, disturbing capabilities. China is investing in anti-access technologies that would force U.S. naval and air forces farther from Chinese shores, and has fielded large numbers of short- and intermediate-range missiles and cruise missiles.
The Chinese navy has a potent mix of surface ships and submarines and is working to develop naval air wings to operate off an aircraft carrier China bought from the Ukraine in 1998. The Chinese could begin work on an indigenous carrier this year, according to the report.
Additionally, China is developing cyber warfare capabilities, and space and counterspace assets by expanding its space-based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation, and communications satellite constellations.
Because no one outside China knows for certain where the Chinese military buildup will end, transparency in the goals of the transformation would go far in reassuring regional countries and global partners, the report noted.
“The limited transparency in China’s military and security affairs enhances uncertainty and increases the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation,” it said.
President Barack Obama has said he understands China and the United States may sometimes have difficult relations, “but the notion that we must be adversaries is not predestined.”
Sustained and reliable U.S.-China military-to-military relations reduce mistrust, enhance mutual understanding and broaden cooperation, the report said.