China is on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world, according to a new report from the US Defence Intelligence Agency.
Beijing’s longstanding interest in reunifying with Taiwan “has served as the primary driver for China’s military modernisation,” the report says.
“Beijing’s anticipation that foreign forces would intervene in a Taiwan scenario led the [People’s Liberation Army] to develop a range of systems to deter and deny foreign regional force projection,” the report continues.
Among the new technologies, China has developed “the world’s first roadmobile, anti-ship ballistic missile, a system specifically designed to attack enemy aircraft carriers”, CNN reports, which weakens the naval dominance the US has enjoyed for decades.
The Guardian adds that the technological breakthroughs are “thanks partly to domestic laws forcing foreign partners to divulge technical secrets in exchange for access to China’s vast market”.
By using those laws, China has been able to develop new weapons systems without costly research and development spending. Beijing’s spending on defence also climbed to more than £155 billion in 2018, a threefold increase since 2002.
Hours before the report’s release in the US, General Li Zuocheng, a member of China’s Central Military Commission, delivered a blunt warning to the US chief of naval operations, Admiral John Richardson, who is on a four-day visit to China.
“If someone tries to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will do whatever it takes to safeguard national reunification, national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.