The Pentagon released a report on Thursday saying that China’s military in the last few years has expanded its bomber operations in what looks like “training for strikes” against the United States and its allies.
According to Reuters, the assessment, which comes at a time of high trade tensions, was part of an annual report that highlighted China’s attempts to increase its global influence.
In the report, the Pentagon estimates that the China defense budget exceeded $190 billion in 2017.
“Over the last three years, the PLA (China’s People’s Liberation Army) has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets,” the report said.
The report said it is not clear what message Beijing wants to send by carrying out the flights “beyond a demonstration of improved capabilities.”
Reuters reported that during the last year China’s air force landed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the disputed region.
Meanwhile, in January this year, the Pentagon in the new national defense strategy put countering Beijing, along with Russia as one of the main objectives.
The Pentagon reported that although China is experiencing a decrease in economic growth, the defense budget would be more than $240 billion by 2028.
The Pentagon also added that China’s space program was progressing rapidly.
“The PLA continues to strengthen its military space capabilities despite its public stance against the militarization of space,” it said.
President Donald Trump’s administration this month announced the creation of “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the military by 2020.
One of the main arguments for the creation of the Space Force was that China and other U.S. foes appear increasingly ready to strike U.S. space-based capabilities in the event of a conflict, Reuters wrote.