Pentagon says China’s building more nuclear missiles, navy is world’s biggest

Foreign Affairs

This year’s annual report from the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense on the state of China’s military is out, and it paints a picture of the People’s Liberation Army as ambitious, strategic, and growing in power.

map of china and region
Excerpt from Pentagon report: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020.

The Pentagon has released its annual report to Congress on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.”

These are some key findings (or assertions):

  • “The P.R.C. has the largest navy in the world with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines” compared with the U.S. Navy’s battle force of “approximately 293 ships.”
  • China has a strong force of ground-launched ballistic missiles (GLBMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) and “one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems.”
  • New intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) under development will “significantly improve” China’s nuclear-capable missile forces.
  • “The number of warheads on the P.R.C.’s land-based ICBMs capable of threatening the United States is expected to grow to roughly 200 in the next five years.”

The report concludes:

What is certain is that the CCP has a strategic end state that it is working towards, which if achieved and its accompanying military modernization left unaddressed, will have serious implications for U.S. national interests and the security of the international rules-based order.

China’s response? “China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday rejected a U.S. report that Beijing was expected to double the number of its nuclear warheads,” reports Reuters.

For a directory of Pentagon reports to Congress on China dating back to 2002, see this web page compiled by scholar Andrew S. Erickson.