07 May 2013

Pentagon Report Reveals Chinese Military Developments

Andrew S. Erickson, “Pentagon Report Reveals Chinese Military Developments,” The Diplomat, 8 May 2013.

After a year-long hiatus, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)’s annual report on Chinese military developments is back and better than ever. Its 43-page 2012 predecessor was widely criticized for arriving far later than Congress requested and containing little substance or new data. But this year’s expeditiously-issued 92-page document continues a tradition of detailed, sophisticated, publicly-available U.S. government analysis previously seen in the 2011 DoD report, the 2010 National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) report on China’s air force, and the 2009 and 2007 Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) reports on China’s navy.

Like these other landmark reports, this year’s DoD iteration clearly and understandably comes from a U.S. military perspective, yet strives to provide a comprehensive picture of Chinese military developments and the strategic concerns that motivate them. This represents an admirable effort to offer a balanced assessment, as can be seen in remarks at the time of its release by David F. Helvey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. Useful data are presented on everything from Chinese sea- and -land based energy access to apparent ambiguities in Beijing’s “no first use” nuclear doctrine to members of the Central Military Commission and their key professional relationships. …