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Pentagon's take on China's military rise: The annual DoD report

Written by André Ken Jakobsson, Ph.D. Candidate at Center for War Studies

Few long-term developments are more significant than the US-Chinese relationship but while the US military is quite open about its priorities the Chinese are a lot less informative. That is why the annual US Department of Defense (DoD) report on China's military is highly anticipated. The National Interest has condensed the 98 page report to give an overview of and comment on the increasingly impressive breadth of the Chinese defense. 

The Chinese doctrine of "Peaceful Rise" has more than 10 years on its back but the DoD report sheds light on very expansive military investments as well as expanded military cooperation with other states. The report speaks of the PLA’s (Chinese army) power projection expanding outwards and that this "augments China’s globally-oriented objectives to be viewed as a stakeholder in ensuring stability and a regional power" while the PLA also is increasing its soft power capabilities through training of foreign military officers from "virtually  every  Latin American and Caribbean country that diplomatically recognizes China sends officers to the strategic-level Defense Studies Institute in China while some also send officers to the PLA Army and Navy command schools in Nanjing."

Not only the PLA is showing considerable strategic developments but also the Chinese defense industry that has "made dramatic improvements in all defense industrial production sectors and is comparable to other major weapon system producers like Russia and the European Union in some areas."

The Chinese are also productive in the higher altitudes where the space program is drawing a lot of attention as it is the "world’s most rapidly maturing space program" and the Chinese military's move into UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) is seen as "alarming" and as a possibly outpacing US spending on unmanned systems in the future.

These developments could be seen as a disruption of the Peaceful Rise doctrine, yet the DoD report also acknowledges US-Chinese cooperation in the form of both bilateral and multilateral military exercises dating back to 2008 and as such it seems to be looking for a balanced approach to the Chinese military expansionism.

Read the critical walk-through of the DoD report at The National Interest here.