China continues to develop sea, submarine and airborne capabilities to extend the strike range of missiles as part of its power projection in the Indian Ocean, despite the lack of logistical and intelligence support from the littoral nations, the Pentagon has said.
The Department of Defense in its annual report ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016’ submitted to Congress yesterday said the blue water power projection of the Dragon goes beyond the South China Sea and extends to the Indian Ocean as a part of PLA Navy’s ambition to be a global military player.
Besides enhancing the strike range of Anti-Ship Cruise Missile, China may also develop the capability to arm the new LUYANG III-class Guided Missile Destroyer with Land Attack Cruise Missiles, giving the PLA Navy its first land-attack capability from the sea.
“The most prominent example of PLA’s expanding ambitions was the November announcement that China is establishing a military facility in Djibouti. This is a big step forward for the PLA, which has never had an overseas facility before,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia Abraham M Denmark while briefing reporters after submitting the report.
The PLA Navy’s goal over the coming decades is to become a stronger regional force able to project power across the greater Asia-Pacific region for high-intensity operations over a period of several months.
However, logistics and intelligence support remain key obstacles, particularly in the Indian Ocean and in other areas outside the greater Asia-Pacific region.As a result, China desires expansion of its access to logistics in the Indian Ocean and will probably establish several access points in this area in the next decade.
The report says China most likely will seek to establish additional naval logistics hubs in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and a precedent for hosting foreign militaries.
Asked if this would prompt US-India joint patrols in the Indian Region, Mr Denmark said,”We’re going to continue to enhance our bilateral engagement with India, not in the China context, but because India is an increasingly important player by themselves. And we are going to engage India because of its value.” Source
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