Washington: China’s growing military might, which is a subject of anxiety among its neighbours, appears to be overstated and the emerging giant is still far from developing capabilities that can pose a challenge to a power like the United States, a media report here said on Saturday.
The rising military might of China is not as strong as it is thought to be, The Washington Post said in a report analysing China’s indigenous military strengths and where it stands compared to military powerhouses the US and Russia.
“Although the US is making changes in response to China’s growing military power, experts and officials believe it will be years, if not decades, before China will be able to produce a much-feared ballistic missile capable of striking a warship or overcome weaknesses that keep it from projecting power far from its shores,” the report said.
In the news dispatch from Moscow, The Post reported how China has increasingly relied on supply of fighter jets from Russia and has not been successful in developing its own despite its well known capabilities in reverse engineering and best of its efforts over the past few decades.
“They’ve made remarkable progress in the development of their arms industry, but this progress shouldn’t be overstated,” Vasily Kashin, a Beijing-based expert on China’s defence industry, told the paper.
“They have a long tradition of overestimating their capabilities,” Kashin added.
Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategic Technologies and an adviser to Russia’s Ministry of Defence, predicted that China would need a decade to perfect a jet engine, among other key weapons technologies.
“China is still dependent on us and will stay that way for some time to come,” he told the daily.
The Post said apart from the conflict with radical Islamism, the US views China’s growing military strength as the most serious potential threat to its interests around the world.
The Pentagon, in a report to the Congress this year, said that the pace and scale of China’s military reform “are broad and sweeping”.
But, the report noted, “the PLA remains untested in modern combat,” thus making transformation difficult to assess.
The daily said the Chinese military capabilities as compared to that of the US were far below in the field of submarines, anti-chip capabilities and fighter jets.
“There’s a tendency to talk about China as a great new military threat that’s coming,” said Hans M Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.
But, when it comes to Chinese submarines carrying ballistic missiles, he said, “they could be sitting ducks”.