China has attempted to increase its control over the features and waterways of the South China Sea where some 78 percent of its oil imports and 16 percent of natural gas imports sails.
“In the South China Sea, China has continued militarization. Anti-ship cruise missiles and long-range surface-to-air missiles have been deployed to Spratly Islands outposts, and China’s strategic bombers have conducted take-off and landing drills on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands,” the report said, adding that the missiles deployed to the Spratly Islands in 2018 are the “most capable land-based weapons systems deployed by China in the disputed South China Sea.”
“China states that international military presence within the South China Sea is a challenge to its sovereignty. China has continued to escalate coercive tactics to enforce its claims within the South China Sea,” it added.
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Beijing developing advanced weaponry
Some of the more advanced technology China is developing includes hypersonic missiles, weapons that travel at least five-times the speed of sound.
“China has tested hypersonic glide vehicles. In August 2018, China successfully tested the XINGKONG-2 (Starry Sky-2), which it publicly described as a hypersonic waverider vehicle,” the report says, referencing a missile that can travel close to the water to avoid detection and missile defense.
The report also details the growth in China’s defense budget and its military capabilities, saying “China’s defense budget has nearly doubled during the past 10 years.”
Much of that money is being spent on beefing up the Chinese navy, with the report saying that China commands “the region’s largest navy, with more than 300 surface combatants, submarines, amphibious ships, patrol craft, and specialized types.”
The report calls the Chinese navy an “increasingly modern and flexible force,” saying that the “modernization of China’s submarine force remains a high priority.”
It says China’s total submarine force “will likely grow to between 65 and 70 submarines by 2020” and that China will field a new guided-missile nuclear attack submarine “by the mid-2020s” providing Beijing with “a more clandestine land-attack option.”
China’s first domestically built Aircraft carrier will also “likely join the fleet by the end of 2019” and its second domestically built carrier is projected to be operational by 2022.
Beijing is also rapidly building up its Coast Guard to help enforce its claims over disputed islands in the South China Sea, according to the report.
Since 2010 the Chinese Coast Guard has doubled its fleet of large patrol ships and now commands some 130 large vessels, “making it by far the largest coast guard force in the world and increasing its capacity to conduct simultaneous, extended offshore operations in multiple disputed areas.”
The report also says China uses its People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia, a reserve force of civilians available for mobilization, “to achieve China’s political goals” in the South China Sea without fighting.
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