By Zhao Weibin
Recently, the US Department of Defense (DoD) issued the 2019 Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China (also known as the “report on Chinese military power”). Like similar “reports” in previous years, this “report” makes a number of comments on China’s national defense policies that distort the facts, deliberately misrepresent China’s strategic intention, and vigorously spread the “China threat theory.” Considering that the US already clearly labels China as a “strategic competitor” in its National Security Strategy Report 2018, this “report” clearly showcases the US’ anxiety as well as its alertness and even hostility toward China.
Compared with the previous US “reports on China’s military power”, this year’s “report” is worthy of particular attention in the following four aspects:
First, it declares that China has clear strategic goals and comprehensive approaches. Previous “reports” stressed that China’s development prospects remain uncertain, but this year’s clarifies in the beginning that China will continue “harnessing an array of economic, foreign policy, and security tools” to realize a “powerful and prosperous China that is equipped with a ‘world-class’ military.” It also incorporated China’s diplomatic and economic policies and energy strategies into the scope of national security for the first time, implying China has “global ambitions” and trying to provide a clumsy pretext for the US “whole-of-government strategy on China”.
Second, the “report” pays close attention to the institutional restructuring and combat capacity improvement of the Chinese military. The “reports” of last two years noticed the importance of China’s national defense and military reforms, but deemed that such reforms would face grave challenges. This year’s “report” fully recognizes China’s reform results and holds that restructuring military regions into theater commands can better shape a favorable situation and carry out modern high-intensity joint operations. It also elaborates various training and drills carried out by Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 2018, and particularly notes that China has built a professional “blue force” and those exercises and drills involved various levels, positions and skills.
Third, the “report” has a specific chapter to smear the overall improvement of China’s defense industry. It groundlessly criticizes that the Chinese government uses market access and international norms to “force” foreign IT firms to transfer technology and set up R&D laboratories in China, and ridiculously conjectures that China acquires foreign advanced technologies under the guise of civil use. Obviously, this year’s “report” continues the previous routine of conjecturing, smearing and sensationalizing the development of China’s defense industry.
Fourth, the “report” shows a meticulous attitude toward China-US military relation and lowers its expectations for future development of mutual military and security relations. Ever since introducing the content about China-US military exchanges in 2010, such “reports” always gave positive remarks on achievements in this regard. However, this year’s “report” shows that the US side only maintains a “basic” expectation for future development of bilateral military and security relations. It also pretentiously “encourages” China to act in ways consistent with the free and open international order. In fact, it is the United States that upholds unilateralism, destroys international order, and frequently makes troubles threatening regional security. The US acts like a thief crying “stop thief,” making it looks ridiculous.
At Congress request, Pentagon produced this “report on Chinese military power” as a political tool to spread the so-called “Chinese military threat” both in the US and beyond. However, as it turns out, China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development and upholds a national defense policy which is defensive in nature, as a constructor of world peace, a contributor of global development and a defender of international order in an unswerving way. China’s development means the growth of the force in favor of world peace.
With a more open and confident Chinese military and increased channels for the international community to understand the PLA, the space for the US to hype the so-called “Chinese military threat” will be further narrowed, and the creditability of such “reports on Chinese military power” will be daily losing.
The Chinese side hopes the US will abandon its Cold War mentality and the outdated concept of zero-sum game, objectively and rationally view China’s strategic intentions and national defense development, stop issuing such irresponsible “reports” year after year, and instead make contributions to improving military-to-military and state-to-state relations between China and the US, not the other way round.
Disclaimer: The author is from the Chinese PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences. The article was published on the PLA Daily on 9 May，2019. It is translated from Chinese into English and edited by China Military Online.