A new Pentagon assessment of Chinese military power states it has outstripped the US in numbers of warships, land-based missiles and air defence systems.
The news comes as a blow to US national pride.
“Frankly, America slept while China grew,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday.
The annual Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC) report concedes the Pentagon was wrong when, 20 years ago, it dismissed the potential threat posed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Instead, the reports state, it is now well and truly on track to become what Chairman Xi Jinping demands to be “a world-class military”.
“(Beijing) has marshalled the resources, technology, and political will over the past two decades to strengthen and modernise the PLA in nearly every respect,” the report finds, adding that “China is already ahead of the United States in certain areas”.
This includes its ship building economy, as well as the number of ballistic, cruise and anti-aircraft missile systems.
In particular, the 173-page report notes the Chinese navy is now the largest in the world with a total of 350 vessels. The US navy reports 293 vessels in active service.
Pompeo says China remains outmatched by the combined strength of the West and its allies.
“It’s central that we have friends and allies in this battle,” he told Fox News.
“We’ve worked for two years now to build that out. We’ve made real progress. You’ve seen them acknowledge the threat. They slept on this threat the same way America did for two decades.”