Pentagon says China military ‘likely training for strikes’ on US targets

Chinese-made A-5 attack aircraft drop bombs during exercises

The suggestion is contained in a report that says China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently expanded its bomber operations. The report states the People's Liberation Army is undergoing a massive transformation to make it capable of executing increasingly larger and more complex operations and expand China's global footprint.

China's military budget for 2017 was about US$190 billion (S$260 billion), according to the report, far behind the Pentagon's annual budget of about US$700 billion. China has reclaimed 3,200 of acres of land in the Spratly Island chain and militarized them with ports, runways and other military infrastructure.

The warning about air strikes is one part of a comprehensive assessment of China's military and economic ambitions.

"Over the last three years, the PLA (People's Liberation Army) has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against USA and allied targets", CNN quoted the report as saying on Thursday.

It goes on to say it is not clear what China is trying to prove by such flights.

Titled, "U.S. report on China's military reveals its guilty conscience", the editorial states, "The U.S.' technical analysis of the PLA capability is one thing, the Pentagon's publication of the analysis to hype the "China threat" is another".

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 objective of these reforms is to create a more mobile, modular, lethal ground force capable of being the core of joint operations", the report says. DOD officials expect China to increase its defense budget to $240 billion over the next decade.

The Pentagon says China's military capacity in space is on the rise too, despite what the report calls a "public stance" from Beijing against the militarization of space.

Aretha Franklin: A life in pictures
Other hits include "Day Dreaming" (1972), "Jump to It" (1982), " Freeway of Love " (1985), and "A Rose Is Still A Rose" (1998). She had battled health issues in recent years and in 2017 announced her retirement from touring.

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Where are the areas of tension?

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

China and several neighbouring countries have been locked in a bitter and long-running dispute over who controls territories in the South China Sea, a region rich in natural resources.

Beijing has said it is necessary for the Asian powerhouse to keep growing its military presence in the South China Sea in order to protect its sovereignty.

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

The document also warns that China "is likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with China by force".

There have been mixed diplomatic signals between the two countries in recent months.

In a nod to China, the USA cut formal ties with Taiwan in 1979 but continues to maintain close political and security ties, which irks Beijing.

Several Chinese state-run companies previous year established a joint venture that aims to strengthen China's nuclear power capabilities in line with its ambitions to "become a strong maritime power", the Post said, citing a statement released by the venture.

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