China is increasingly relying on its military to achieve its political goals.

Senior US Defense Department officials said Monday that China is increasingly turning to its military to achieve its foreign policy goals as the East Asian country moves forward in its efforts to match the United States in terms of military power.

In a talk organized by the Atlantic Council think tank, the Under Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, Ely Ratner, and the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for China, Taiwan and Mongolia, Michael Chase, highlighted the main conclusions of the Report on China’s Military Power, which the Pentagon published last week.

In recent years, as China’s military capabilities have expanded, the Chinese Communist Party government has exercised these powers more easily, and Ratner called this a “really important change.”

Chase expressed hope that China would summarize military-to-military talks at the leadership level, which he stressed would be important to avoid incidents such as the 2001 collision between a US Navy plane and a Chinese fighter jet. The Defense Department has said Beijing has closed high-level lines of communication.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has called China a “passing threat,” tried unsuccessfully to engage his Chinese counterpart, then-Defense Chief Li Shangfu, at a defense summit in Singapore in June. The Chinese government formally dismissed Li on Tuesday.

As examples, Chase pointed to the growing number of Chinese military sorties over the Taiwan Strait and the large maneuvers around the island country following the visit of then-Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in the summer of last year. , and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s most recent trip to the United States.

The China Military Power Report lists what the Pentagon considers the six most likely catalysts for a possible war between Beijing and Taipei, which could drag the United States and its allies into a broader conflict.

The report also details China’s advances in military and dual-use technology, the expansion of its nuclear arsenal and its repertoire of ballistic missiles, and its strategy and military posture in potential conflict points such as the Taiwan Strait and the China Sea. Southern.

It paints a picture of China with increasing nuclear capacity since it is estimated that it has more than 500 operational nuclear warheads, compared to approximately 400 two years ago. This figure remains far behind the arsenals of Russia and the United States, which have more than 5,000 each. China is also increasing and diversifying its collection of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Michael McCartney