As Harry Kazianis noted yesterday, the Pentagon’s Congressionally-mandated annual survey of Chinese military capabilities is out. The highlights:
— “With its growing power and international status, China periodically acts more assertively in pursuit of its strategic priorities, while also seeking to take advantage of a favorable external environment to pursue economic and military modernization goals. Beijing is finding it increasingly difficult to balance these interests.”
— China’s official military budget for 2012 totals $106 billion – an 11.2 percent increase over 2011. “Analysis of 2000-2011 data indicates China’s officially disclosed military budget grew at an average of 11.8 percent per year in inflation-adjusted terms over the period.”
— “Preparing for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait remains the principal focus and driver of much of China’s military investment,” but the People’s Liberation Army “still faces limitations in its ability to conduct a full-scale amphibious invasion of Taiwan.”
— The PLA Navy will likely commission the former-Varyag aircraft carrier into service this year following sea trials since last summer. “The carrier will initially serve as a training platform.”
— “Numerous indicators pointed to the start of an expansion of the majority of army special forces units.”
— The PLA deploys between 1,000 and 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles, 400,000 ground troops and 490 warplanes opposite Taiwan.
— The PLA Navy possesses: 79 destroyers and frigates, 50 submarines, 51 landing ships and 86 missile-armed patrol craft.
— “China continues to build the Beidou navigation satellite constellation with the goal of establishing a regional network by the end of 2012 and a global network by 2020,” but “China’s space and counter-space programs are facing some challenges in systems reliability.”
— “Authoritative writings and China’s persistent cyber intrusions indicates the likelihood that Beijing is using cyber network operations as a tool to collect strategic intelligence.”