China's military is "likely training for strikes" against USA targets in the Pacific, the Defense Department warned Thursday in a sobering report that says 's broader strategy is to develop armed forces capabilities able to "degrade" American advantages.
It goes on to say it is not clear what China is trying to prove by such flights.
China is transforming its ground forces to "fight and win", it is warned.
As Thursday's report notes, the PLA is undergoing "the most comprehensive restructure in its history to become a force capable of fighting joint operations".
China and several neighbouring countries have been locked in a bitter and long-running dispute over who controls territories in the South China Sea, a region rich in natural resources.
China's military modernisation is primarily aimed at preventing any USA intervention in the Taiwan Strait and protecting its energy supplies coming through the IOR, but India certainly needs to keep its guard up.
The report, released on Thursday, comes as China and the U.S. plan to hold trade talks, offering hope they might resolve an escalating tariff conflict that threatens to degenerate into an all-out trade war.
Taiwan's incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party has refused to recognize the "consensus", a tacit understanding there is "one China", with each side having its own interpretation of what "one China" means.
The report's release comes amid an apparent break in ongoing trade tensions between the USA and China, with both countries agreeing to come back to the negotiation table in an effort to find a compromise.
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Beijing's been spreading its influence for years in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
"China's military modernization targets capabilities with the potential to degrade core US operational and technological advantages", Defense officials continued in the report.
Media captionHow US defence spending plan compares to allies and rivals.
The US also continues to maintain a substantial military presence in Japan.
The US flag flutters on a diplomatic vehicle after a meeting of US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis (R) with China's Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang at the Bayi Building in Beijing on June 28, 2018.
And there also fears the Asian superpower's rocket programme could be a cover for some kind of futuristic "star wars" military project in space.
China continues to develop counter-space capabilities, "including kinetic-kill missiles, ground-based lasers and orbiting space robots" and also working "to expand space surveillance capabilities that can monitor objects across the globe and in space and enable counter-space actions", the report added.
This is not all, there are tensions in the non-military sphere.
The report also found that China's relationship with North Korea has reached "the lowest level in decades" as it works on a dual track approach that uses both dialogue and pressure on the rogue regime over its nuclear capabilities.