Published: Sat, August 18, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

China is ‘training nuclear bombers’, United States claims

China is ‘training nuclear bombers’, United States claims

This year's report also claims that China is pursuing a nuclear capability on its long-range bombers, saying the Chinese air force "has been re-assigned a nuclear mission".

China's military is "likely training for strikes" against the US and is rapidly expanding its long-range bomber operations, a Pentagon report released on Thursday warned.

"The PLA continues to strengthen its military space capabilities despite its public stance against the militarization of space", it said.

It is now focused on the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, a massive infrastructure plan to connect China with other countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

The US regularly seeks to demonstrate freedom of navigation with flights over the South China Sea, much of which is claimed by China, and a number of other nations.

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The annual report to Congress, released on Thursday (Aug 16), highlights China's growing military, economic and diplomatic clout, and how Beijing is leveraging this to rapidly build its global footprint and establish regional dominance.

As CNN reported, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he hopes to modernize China's military this year by "weeding out widespread corruption in the ranks and updating the country's military hardware".

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.

The report noted that these flights could be "used as a strategic signal to regional states", but the PLA hasn't been clear about "what messages such flights communicate beyond a demonstration of improved capabilities".

The People's Liberation Army may demonstrate the "capability to strike USA and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam", the report adds.

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When the Pentagon released its annual report previous year, Beijing dismissed it as "irresponsible" in predicting that China would expand its global military presence by building overseas bases in countries like Pakistan.

The report also found that China's relationship with North Korea has reached "the lowest level in decades" as it works on a dual track approach that uses both dialogue and pressure on the rogue regime over its nuclear capabilities.

The Pentagon suspects that China might be training for strikes against United States targets as well as sending a message to other regional actors that Chinese capabilities are improving.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "By playing up the so-called China's militarisation in the South China Sea, certain people in the United States are staging a farce of a thief crying "stop thief".

Chinese foreign ministry officials have claimed the USA is "running amok" in the region.

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The US has sounded yet another warning about China's expansionist designs and coercive tactics to smother opposition from rival claimants on territorial issues, pointedly referring to the Doklam troop face-off among other such incidents, even as the Chinese defence minister is set to visit India next week.

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