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China continues to pursue long-term mil modernisation: US

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WASHINGTON (PTI): China continues to pursue a long-term, comprehensive military modernisation programme designed to improve the capacity of its armed forces to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity regional contingencies, the Pentagon has said.

In its annual report to the Congress Thursday, the Pentagon said preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, which includes deterring or defeating third-party intervention, remains the focus and primary driver of China's military investment.

However, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) also is placing emphasis on preparing for contingencies other than Taiwan, including potential contingencies in the South and East China Seas, said the report titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2014" that runs into over 90 pages.

According to the report, as China's interests, capabilities, and international influence have grown, its military modernisation programme has also become increasingly focused on military investments for a range of missions beyond China's coast, including sea lane security, counter-piracy, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance-disaster relief.

China's leaders describe modernisation of the PLA as essential to preserving and sustaining what they view as a "period of strategic opportunity" to advance China's national development during the first two decades of the 21st century, it said.

"China's leaders see this period as providing an opportunity to focus on fostering a stable external environment to provide the PRC the strategic space to prioritise economic growth and development and to achieve "national rejuvenation" by 2049," the report said.

At the same time, Chinese leaders express a desire to maintain peace and stability along their country's periphery, expand their diplomatic influence to facilitate access to markets, capital, and resources, and avoid direct confrontation with the United States and other countries, it said.

"This strategy has led to a growing Chinese presence in regions all over the world, and particularly on its periphery, creating new and expanding economic and diplomatic interests.

China's expanding interests have led to friction between some of its regional neighbours, including allies and partners of the United States," the report said.

The Pentagon said although the dialogue between the US and China is improving, outstanding questions remain about the rate of growth in China's military expenditures due to the lack of transparency regarding China's intentions.

"In 2013, China announced a 5.7 per cent increase in its annual military budget to USD 119.5 billion, continuing more than two decades of sustained annual defence spending increases," the Pentagon said.

China sustained its investments in strategic forces modernisation, as well as key anti-access-area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities such as advanced intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, long-range land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles, counter-space weapons, and offensive cyber capabilities, it said.

Pentagon said China's military investments provide it with a growing ability to project power at increasingly longer ranges.

In 2013, this included at-sea testing of China's first aircraft carrier and continued development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft, it added.

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