The Defense Department's latest congressional report said that China's nuclear weapons program has surpassed 400 warheads and is on pace to triple over the next 15 years.
In the assessment published Tuesday, Pentagon officials warned that China "probably" expanded its nuclear program last year and would "likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads by its 2035 timeline."
"This is an accelerating trend," a senior defense official told Politico. "We see that with the buildout of the silo fields, the creation of a nuclear triad, what they're doing with their sea bases and air components as well as the silos and their" mobile land forces.
The department pointed out China's uniqueness as a direct competitor to the U.S. over and above other enemies like Iran, North Korea, and Russia. It also noted space and cyberattacks as other critical threats from Beijing.
"Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and Pyongyang have demonstrated the capability and intent to advance their interests at the expense of the United States and its allies, despite the [COVID-19] pandemic," the report stated.
"China increasingly is a near-peer competitor, challenging the United States in multiple arenas — especially economically, militarily and technologically — and is pushing to change global norms."
For China to achieve its "great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" by 2049, defense officials argued that the Chinese Communist Party is gearing up to invade Taiwan by 2027.
The invasion is planned to be followed up by complete military modernization by 2035 and the achievement of a "world-class military" by 2049, which will include the fusion of military and civil sectors of the economy.
According to The Gazette, China's army has around 975,000 active-duty personnel, and its 340 ships and submarines make it the world's largest navy. Meanwhile, the country's air force is the third largest globally.
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