China’s Military Goal: Peer Capability with the U.S. by Mid-Century

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In just the past several weeks, China has sent troops to its first overseas base in Djibouti, intercepted a U.S. surveillance plane over the East China Sea, reinforced its border with North Korea, and declared it will not back down from a border dispute with India. Beyond that, its militarization of man-made islands in the South China Sea continues. The fact that China can simultaneously conduct all of these operations is the result of its ongoing military modernization programs and its expanding ability to project power globally.

China’s new capabilities and their application towards its national goals of great power status and domestic security have serious implications for the United States and China’s neighbors, according to the Pentagon’s 2017 report on Chinese military power. Specifically, China is working towards comprehensive reforms that will expand maritime capabilities, joint operations among the service branches of the People’s Liberation Army, and new elite units. These capabilities are the results of decades of planning and reorganization within the PLA.

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