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DIA Chinese Military Power Report

The following is the Defense Intelligence Agency report, China Military Power that was published on Jan. 15, 2019.

From the Report’s Introduction

The Defense Intelligence Agency—indeed the broader U.S. Intelligence Community—is continually asked, “What do we need to know about China?” What is China’s vision of the world and its role in it? What are Beijing’s strategic intentions and what are the implications for Washington? How are the PLA’s roles and missions changing as it becomes a more capable military force?

Since Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution in October 1949 brought the Chinese Communist Party to power, China has struggled to identify and align itself with its desired place in the world. Early factional struggles for control of party leadership, decades of negotiations to define territorial boundaries, and continued claims to territories not yet recovered have at times seemed at odds with the self-described nature of the Chinese as peace-loving and oriented only toward their own defense. Chinese leaders historically have been willing to use military force against threats to their regime, whether foreign or domestic, at times preemptively. Lack of significant involvement in military operations during the last several decades has led to a sense of insecurity within the PLA as it seeks to modernize into a great power military.
Still, the United States has at times found itself in direct conflict with China or Chinese forces. China supported two major conflicts in Asia after the Second World War, introducing Chinese volunteer forces in Korea and providing direct Chinese air and air defense support to Hanoi in Vietnam. In addition, China fought border skirmishes with the Soviet Union, India, and a unified Vietnam. In all three cases, military action was an integral part of Chinese diplomatic negotiations. Since then, China has concluded negotiations for most of its land borders (India and Bhutan being the outliers) but remains in contention with Japan, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam over maritime borders, which may in part explain motivation for the PLA Navy’s impressive growth and the new emphasis on maritime law enforcement capabilities.

China’s double-digit economic growth has slowed recently, but it served to fund several successive defense modernization Five-Year Plans. As international concern over Beijing’s human rights policies stymied the PLA’s search for ever more sophisticated technologies, China shifted funds and efforts to acquiring technology by any means available. Domestic laws forced foreign partners of Chinese-based joint ventures to release their technology in exchange for entry into China’s lucrative market, and China has used other means to secure needed technology and expertise. The result of this multifaceted approach to technology acquisition is a PLA on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world. In some areas, it already leads the world.

Chinese leaders characterize China’s long-term military modernization program as essential to achieving great power status. Indeed, China is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains which will enable China to impose its will in the region. As it continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation’s leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to U.S. interests. With a deeper understanding of the military might behind Chinese economic and diplomatic efforts, we can provide our own national political, economic, and military leaders the widest range of options for choosing when to counter, when to encourage, and when to join with China in actions around the world.
This report offers insights into the modernization of Chinese military power as it reforms from a defensive, inflexible ground-based force charged with domestic and peripheral security responsibilities to a joint, highly agile, expeditionary, and power-projecting arm of Chinese foreign policy that engages in military diplomacy and operations across the globe.

[signed]

Robert P. Ashley, Jr.
Lieutenant General , US Army
Director
Defense Intelligence Agency

Download the report here.

  • PolicyWonk

    The USA did itself (nor any of China’s neighbors) no favors when it simply gave away 10’s of thousands of dual-use technologies, 30%+ of the strategic manufacturing reserve, the hard-won manufacturing techniques, let alone now over 8M US jobs.

    According to the 2008 US National Intelligence Estimate, from 2002-2006 the USA gave away more technology than all previous administrations *combined*, and further added that China got more new technology in 6 years, than the USSR got in 60 years of Cold War.

    All this technology of course has since been used to propel both China’s economy (while helping to ruin ours) and accelerate their military build-up, which has since emboldened China’s ever-increasing diplomatic belligerence.

    The same NIE declared this tremendous, unprecedented giveaway of technology a massive national security disaster – not only for the USA – but for all of China’s neighbors as well.

    And it was all done solely in return for the short-term profits of GOP party donors.

    • .Hugo.

      what “technology” has actually ruined your economy??
      .
      china is always on the u.s. high technology embargo list too, so what has helped its military buildup?
      .
      just using your logic, which neighbors of china can match china’s industrial and economic base so to say it can “avoid the national security disaster”?
      .
      and when you mentioned technology, just wonder how you will feel about this too…
      .
      ( amp. scmp. com/news/china/science/article/2182253/
      nasa-wanted-use-chinas-spacecraft-plan-new-american
      -moon-mission )
      .
      Nasa wanted to use China’s spacecraft to plan a new American moon mission

      The American scientists had asked China to extend the Queqiao relay satellite’s lifespan and allow an American beacon device to be placed on Chang’e 4, saying it would help the US side plan its own lunar landing strategy, Wu said.

      “We asked the Americans why they wanted our relay satellite to operate longer,” Wu told CCTV. “They said, perhaps feeling a little embarrassed, that they wanted to make use of our relay satellite when they make their own mission to the far side of the moon.”

      .
      😀

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    I agree with you. My biggest problem with a war with China is very similar to the problem MacArthur felt- (and I am not much of a MacArthur fan at all, but he wasn’t completely wrong in this point): Are we at war or not? And if we are, at least in the last 100 years, if you’re AT WAR, it needs to be TOTAL WAR. To quote the film Law Abiding Citzen: “Total F’king War. Von Clausewitz S#$!” — China has billions of people willing to fight and die for their government (Mostly because they’d fear the repercussions, like the Russian officers shooting those who failed to advance in the Battle of Stalingrad) — we have Snowflake Culture where we live our lives hoping to tell someone they offended us and how are we going to ruin their lives for it. Further, everyone is owed everything and everyone deserves everything in the world from everyone else. These are not the men who stormed Normandy or fought for months on end with no water, no food, no help, and no hope on the islands of the South Pacific…. this is an entirely different “nation”. There are men like me, regular people who, like Lee Greenwood, will gladly stand up next to you and defend the nation today…. and I have friends who are regular guys who would do the same thing. Unfortunately I do not believe a significant portion of our ~400 million people are worth much in a fight against China, which would be a real-deal war…. And hey, seeing as they own so much of our debt, they might make the point, “Why do we have to go to war, why can’t you just pay us our stupid money?” and see those self-same snowflakes become indignant, “Nono, that’s OUR money, we get it for free for being me!” … off soapbox, enough rant for one night.

    • publius_maximus_III

      There was only one Greatest Generation. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. Maybe technology can make up for grit and determination? (sarc)

    • muzzleloader

      Well said, and sadly I agree.

    • .Hugo.

      .
      in his final years, macarthur had warned kennedy not to fight a war in asia, i.e. against china, after what he had experienced in korea when facing just the “inferior chinese volunteers”. 🙂

  • PolicyWonk

    The dual-use technologies that were simply given to China were easily modifiable for military purposes (hence: “dual use”), and it wasn’t any one – it was the combination of the many that have found their way into the Chinese military.

    • publius_maximus_III

      “Made in Japan” used to mean cheap, shoddy merchandise that broke the instant you used it. Then Japan discovered Deming and statistical quality control, and all that changed overnight. All of a sudden Japanese cars and electronics were preferred to American goods.

      Chinese goods are a little more durable than those items from the Japanese trinket era, but the quality is still not there IMHO.

      • PolicyWonk

        Chinese goods have improved a good deal over the years, and its not a good idea to assume they’ll build lousy military gear.

        After all, they’ve been copying/improving Russian gear for decades, and have seen what inferior design is all about, in addition to the improvements made over the years.

        They also regularly solicit feedback from the troops, and make improvements accordingly.

        • publius_maximus_III

          Just looking at some Internet photos of Tianmen Mountain National Park. I gotta say, those Chinese have no equal when it comes to Civil Engineering. Mechanical and Electrical, not so sure.

  • publius_maximus_III

    H,

    Japan is a very different country today than the belligerent both our countries fought against in WW-II. I assure you their interests are now strictly for their own well-being and defense, not to act as a proxy against the PRC for the US. We have gone from enemies to being strong allies. That will not change anytime soon, but you can keep wishing,..

    I might also warn you that a Dragon and a Bear will not make a very good menagerie.

    Reading about your 14-country border reminded me of those amazing Chinese acrobats keeping dozens of saucers atop sticks all spinning at the same time. Your diplomatic corps, as we sometimes say around here, must be busier than a one-legged man in a fanny kicking contest.

    FYI — might want to annotate your Sino-Anglo dictionary: it’s vassal state, not vessel state. But you should know that, China was a feudal society for 1000’s of years.

    • .Hugo.

      how is japan different when it always wants to restore its past glory? have you not seen what abe has done? until today, japan is the only country in asia still having constant territorial disputes with all of its neighbors, and all of its neighbors have never reduced their alert towards japan. you think there is no reason for that?
      .
      by the way, you can stop beautifying your so-called “alliance relationship” with japan, it’s simply a master and servant relationship. the u.s. occupation army has never left japan after ww2, you can have all the different names you want to call it, but japan can say nothing. it has even sacrificed its own economy for the u.s.
      .
      the dragon and the bear have lived side by side since the start of humanity, and they have learned to live together constructively. the eagle is simply too young to understand that. 🙂
      .
      i can see you just can’t deny that fact that china has a much peaceful border with most of its neighbors than you try to frame, hehe….
      .
      and a typo with auto-spell check? sure let’s count that as my fault as you can’t pick up much. 🙂

  • Gus, DC USA

    In order for China to be secure it has to bring India and Vietnam in it’s friendship fold. China can not fight on all fronts. Minor concessions to India on border and same to vietnam will win those countries over to China. China lies close to India, Vietnam and there has been historical knowledge exchange, which is going in vain due to rigidity over few hundred kms on borders. China as big brother should look for long term in terms of goodwill, business and other exchanges with India and Vietnam

    • Ed L

      The Vietnamese only trust the Chinese until they start dedicating suggested policy The Indians I believe have no trust for the Chinese at all.

      • .Hugo.

        both india and vietnam tried to invade china in the 1960s and the 1970s.
        .
        india wants the entire chinese tibet, vietnam wants the chinese south china sea territory and the chinese southern area in guangxi and yuannan.
        .

  • is there some type of internal restriction as to allowing the download of the pdf? i’d like to review it & maybe print out a few pages.

    • publius_maximus_III

      No restriction. See the “Download the report here” link just below the viewing frame.

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    LOL, volunteer or die? Yes, Comrade.

    • .Hugo.

      really? do you know they were mainly ccp soldiers who fought in the civil war with the aim to defeat the kmt, then the western imperialists? do you know why the kmt lost in the civil war? they lost public support which has gone to the ccp. 🙂
      .

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    OK, Mr/Mrs. PLAN. We all know that in Korea the ChiComs hurled “volunteers” at the Americans and South in droves. Unfortunately, for the Chinese, we never wavered. Hong Kong was a bastion of free market capitalism. China, with the Great Shoulder Chip, had to end that run of luck. Now, with sights set on Taiwan, you can be complete. You do know that when seeking revenge, dig two graves?

    Regardless, it is laughable. When did China help other nations during disasters? When did China step up and invent or push back the frontiers of medicine or promote free nations?

    I am older, so I take blood pressure medication that is apparently produced in, Chine. Well, I had to change because it was contaminated. Wow, the upside is my now Japanese produced medication works better and is safe.

    As you were saying comrade?

    • .Hugo.

      “volunteers” was just a name so to avoid escalating the war.
      .
      hong kong was benefited in the korean war when china faced u.n. embargo in the 1950s. china has helped hk to defeat george soros in the 1997 financial crisis too. you should read hk history more before you drag it in. 🙂
      .
      don’t see what revenge you are talking about, for taiwan is a matter of country reunification.
      .
      go check u.n. records then we will all know how china has helped in disaster relieves. have you done that before you post? guess not. 🙂
      .
      i am older too, and i can also check the exact manufacturer of your mentioned high blood pressure drug with its public statement::
      .
      huahaipharm. com/news_det.asp?info_kind=002001&ID=2109
      .
      after reading that (can you?), now i know what there is no further issue.
      .
      nice try, hehe….

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    Hugo is the 21st century version of Tokyo Rose..

    • publius_maximus_III

      The Peking Duck

    • publius_maximus_III

      I think it safe to say your average PRC citizen would never receive access to USNI News and similar websites, thanks to that republic’s heavily redacted version of the Internet. Therefore, we must conclude that old .Hugo. has received special dispensation from the party apparatchiks.

      • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

        Exactly.

      • .Hugo.

        what a naive conclusion with no solid evidence. you really think “average prc citizen” is that restricted? 😀
        .

    • .Hugo.

      tokyo rose did not tell you the truth, while i provide facts that you can cross-check in open sources.
      .
      that’s why you can’t win and can only call me names. 😉
      .

      • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

        Yes, I know Hugo, you are a god. A infallible tool of your all knowing government.

        • .Hugo.

          god? wow no, at least i don’t have to use a banknote which can only say “in god we trust” and nothing to really back it up, hehe….
          .

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            No, you get to use a currency that is pegged to the dollar so purchasing parity is artificial to maintain trade and keep your crap products cheap. If alowed to float on the ForEx market freely China would not have parity and your stolen crap would have to compete on a free and open market. Hehe…

          • .Hugo.

            wrong again.
            .
            i get to use a currency that is pegged to a basket of currencies to decide its value on a daily basis, and this currency is backed by solid gold and not just god, hehe….
            .
            china can keep its products cheap when the chinese costs of living and production are way lower than the u.s., fx is only another factor. yet china can always lower the yuan more instead of keeping it at around the 1:7 level, then we shall see how will the u.s. rely more on chinese imports and how less competitive is u.s. goods all around the world, hehe…
            .
            and when china has the absolute ability to maintain a semi-floated currency and blocks any u.s. attempt to speculate on it, i can see how helpless you are, hehe….
            .

  • .Hugo.

    to counter the u.s. hegemony? then everyone has to be good friends. 🙂
    .

    • publius_maximus_III

      Pax Americana

      • .Hugo.

        you should say thanks america for bringing at least 70 conflicts to the world since 1776, including at least 2 large scale ones in asia. 🙂
        .

        • publius_maximus_III

          Do they have a game over there called Bop-a-Mole?

          • .Hugo.

            i can see you can no longer refute effectively. don’t worry, you are not the first one. 🙂
            .

  • .Hugo.

    used the title “volunteer army” in korea to avoid a country-to-country war with the u.s.), they have just finished fighting the civil war, then they were sent to fight the americans in korea when america ignored chinese warning of not to invade north korea (and also bombed chinese border towns). tired and under-equipped, they were still able to push the superior americans all the way from the chinese border back to the 38th parallel. america’s plan to destroy the north was crushed. 🙂
    .
    let’s see a chinese stamp in 1952 commemorating the korea war:
    .
    upload. wikimedia. org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/72/
    Stamp_china_1952_800_soldiers_marching.jpg/450px-
    Stamp_china_1952_800_soldiers_marching.jpg
    .
    by reading what the stamp said, how would anyone not know that they’re fighting in korea? they were even wearing dprk instead of chinese uniforms. 😀

  • .Hugo.

    china shares one of the longest border in the world with 14 neighbors, and it has settled border arrangements with all of them but 1 (india). among these 14 neighbors, china has armed conflicts with just 3 of them due to border issues.
    .
    it was japan eyeing china’s resources and invaded china, not the other way round.
    .
    it is the u.s. stirring up the china-japan relationship, and both countries are working hard to mend it now.
    .
    mexico is not your friend, so are quite a number of latin american states. canada is just your vessel state that you can dominate.
    .
    when you have seriously underestimated china’s engineering capabilities, i am relaxed too.
    .
    when facing fierce competition and regulatory requirement in the chinese internet landscape, western social media firm simply cannot survive.
    .
    you are only correct in one thing, that i will be here to expose your fault, hehe…. 😀
    .