Published: Sat, August 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

China is 'rapidly' expanding bomber training, probably for USA strikes - Pentagon

China is 'rapidly' expanding bomber training, probably for USA strikes - Pentagon

The Pentagon says the Chinese military is "likely training for strikes" on US targets.

The suggestion is contained in a report that says China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently expanded its bomber operations.

The Pentagon report said that despite a projected slowdown in economic growth, China's official defense budget would be more than $240 billion by 2028.

China's military has expanded its bomber operations in recent years while "likely training for strikes" against the United States and its allies, a Pentagon report released on Thursday said.

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.

"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", the report says.

In May, China landed a long-range nuclear-capable bomber on an island in the disputed South China Sea, a move that raised tensions in the region due to a prior commitment by China not to militarize the area.

China is also focusing more on military spending, the report said.

China's defence spending exceeded $190bn in 2017 as the one-party socialist republic seeks to project military power on the worldwide stage, the report said.

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Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported the plane circled the airport for an hour before attempting to land. Xiamen Air is a subsidiary of China Southern Airlines.

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.

Even as it strengthens military ties with Washington, New Delhi has also firmly declared its intention to ink the Rs 39,000 crore deal with Moscow for five S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems later this year.

China has yet to comment on the report.

Last year, PLA bombers flew a dozen operational flights through the Sea of Japan, into the Western Pacific, around Taiwan, and over the East and South China Sea - all potential flashpoints.

The Guardian notes that China increased its 2017 military spending to $190 billion as the country seeks to "increase its global influence".

It also highlights China's growing space programme "despite its public stance against the militarization of space".

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

In addition, to the ire of regional neighbours, China has built a series of islets and ocean features into military facilities in the South China Sea.

In June, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis became the first Pentagon chief to visit China since 2014.

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