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Concerns over China attack

Amid increasing tensions with Beijing, the Pentagon has released a new report that lays out U.S. concerns about China's growing military might, underscoring worries about a possible attack against Taiwan.

Speaking to reporters, a senior defence intelligence official said Tuesday that the key concern is that as China upgrades its military equipment and technology and reforms how it trains and develops troops, it becomes more confident in its ability to wage a regional conflict. And Beijing's leaders have made it clear that reasserting sovereignty over Taiwan is a top priority.

The official added, however, that although China could easily fire missiles at Taiwan, it doesn't yet have the military capability to successfully invade the self-governing island, which split from mainland China amid civil war in 1949. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to provide more detail on intelligence findings in the report, which was written by the Defence Intelligence Agency.

A Chinese government spokeswoman said the report "is full of Cold War ideology and zero-sum game thinking" and suggested the U.S. was making excuses to strengthen or develop its own weapons of mass destruction.

"We use rules rather than weapons to safeguard and promote our own interests," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

The report's release Tuesday comes just a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping called on his People's Liberation Army to better prepare for combat. China has warned the U.S. against further upgrading military ties with Taiwan and has threatened to use force against the island to assert its claim of sovereignty. Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. has taken incremental moves to bolster ties with the island, including renewed arms sales and upgraded contacts between officials.

U.S.-China tensions have become increasingly frayed on the military and economic fronts over the past year. Trump imposed tariff increases of up to 25 per cent on $250 billion of Chinese imports over complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. Xi responded by imposing penalties on $110 billion of American goods.

And last year the Pentagon disinvited China to a major, multinational Pacific exercise, citing Beijing's militarization of man-made islands in the South China Sea.

The ongoing rise of China, in fact, has triggered greater U.S. military attention on the Indo-Pacific region over the last several years. And last year's release of the U.S. National Defence Strategy emphasized the importance of great power competition with Russia and China. And it asserted that China's rapidly expanding military and Russia's increasing aggression are threatening America's military advantage around the world.



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