Pentagon: Chinese weapons could target US forces

The Pentagon warns that China continues to build more advanced weapons that could target US interests.

The Chinese military budget last year rose to more than $145 billion, the US Defense Department said in its annual report to Congress on security developments involving China. The estimate is more than 20 percent higher than the official Chinese figure.

China has the “fiscal strength” and “political will” to increase its military spending at comparable levels for the foreseeable future, the report stated on Thursday.

This is while the United States’ total military spending exceeded $600 billion in Fiscal 2013. That figure is more than $100 billion over the Pentagon’s base budget which does not include the costs of the war in Afghanistan and nuclear weapons activities.

In the report, the Pentagon assessed that preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait remains “the focus and primary driver of China’s military modernization program.”

China is also overseeing an “unprecedented” modernization of its air force, rapidly “closing the gap with Western air forces across a broad spectrum of capabilities,” the report said.

China’s first fifth-generation fighter, the multi-role J-20, could enter service as early as 2018 and its Navy will build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 year.

US bases on Okinawa are in range of a growing number of Chinese medium range ballistic missiles, and Chinese air-launched cruise missiles could hit Guam, home to key US Air Force and Navy bases, the Pentagon warned.

The Pentagon report also said that the Chinese military is developing the capability to conduct long-range attacks against military forces that might deploy in the western Pacific.

The report has drawn protest from China over its “interfering nature, distortion of facts and baseless speculation,” Xinhua news agency reported, citing the defense ministry's information office.

“Year after year the United States issues this so-called report on 'Military and Security Developments in China’, making preposterous criticisms of China's normal defense and military building, exaggerating the 'China military threat', which is totally wrong,” the ministry said in a statement.