08 May 2021

Office of the Director of National Intelligence “2021 Annual Threat Assessment” & Related Testimony: Key China Content


2021 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community (Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 9 April 2021).

Click here to download previous reports back to 2005.


Senate Armed Services Committee, “Hearing: Worldwide Threats,” 29 April 2021.


Hearing Video (~90 minutes)

China  4:22, 25  5:2, 4  8:17, 21  9:14, 17  14:1, 3, 7, 15  16:9. 58:25  16:10. 23:14. 22:10. 24:2 10, 13  31:2. 23:1, 6, 13  27:9, 22  28:6, 30:20, 24  32:2, 4, 5, 10, 14  38:5, 16  40:18, 23 41:2  44:18  45:18  47:4, 11  51:1  53:13, 17  57:4, 21, 24  58:7  59:3

China’s  8:25  9:9  27:17  39:2  40:18  41:3  45:1, 11  46:23  50:14, 24  52:5  59:16

Chinese  9:18  14:6  23:16  27:6, 15, 16  28:19  31:18  32:16  37:16  45:8, 12 52:1  54:12

Stenographic Transcript (contains several substantive phonetic errors, but intelligible in context throughout)



2021 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community (Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence Agency, 13 April 2021).

p. 4

China increasingly is a near-peer competitor, challenging the United States in multiple arenas—especially economically, militarily, and technologically—and is pushing to change global norms.

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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will continue its whole-of-government efforts to spread China’s influence, undercut that of the United States, drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners, and foster new international norms that favor the authoritarian Chinese system. Chinese leaders probably will, however, seek tactical opportunities to reduce tensions with Washington when such opportunities suit their interests. China will maintain its major innovation and industrial policies because Chinese leaders see this strategy as necessary to reduce dependence on foreign technologies, enable military advances, and sustain economic growth and thus ensure the CCP’s survival.

  • Beijing sees increasingly competitive US-China relations as part of an epochal geopolitical shift and views Washington’s economic measures against Beijing since 2018 as part of a broader US effort to contain China’s rise.
  • China is touting its success containing the COVID-19 pandemic as evidence of the superiority of its system.
  • Beijing is increasingly combining its growing military power with its economic, technological, and diplomatic clout to preserve the CCP, secure what it views as its territory and regional preeminence, and pursue international cooperation at Washington’s expense.

Regional and Global Activities

China seeks to use coordinated, whole-of-government tools to demonstrate its growing strength and compel regional neighbors to acquiesce to Beijing’s preferences, including its claims over disputed territory and assertions of sovereignty over Taiwan.

  • China-India border tensions remain high, despite some force pullbacks this year. China’s occupation since May 2020 of contested border areas is the most serious escalation in decades and led to the first lethal border clash between the two countries since 1975. As of mid-February, after multiple rounds of talks, both sides were pulling back forces and equipment from some sites along the disputed border.
  • In the South China Sea, Beijing will continue to intimidate rival claimants and will use growing numbers of air, naval, and maritime law enforcement platforms to signal to Southeast Asian countries that China has effective control over contested areas. China is similarly pressuring Japan over contested areas in the East China Sea.
  • Beijing will press Taiwan authorities to move toward unification and will condemn what it views as increased US-Taiwan engagement. We expect that friction will grow as Beijing steps up attempts to portray Taipei as internationally isolated and dependent on the mainland for economic prosperity, and as China continues to increase military activity around the island.
  • China’s increasing cooperation with Russia on areas of complementary interest includes defense and economic cooperation.

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Beijing will continue to promote the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to expand China’s economic, political, and military presence abroad, while trying to reduce waste and exploitative practices, which have led to international criticism. China will try to increase its influence using “vaccine diplomacy,” giving countries favored access to the COVID-19 vaccines it is developing. China also will promote new international norms for technology and human rights, emphasizing state sovereignty and political stability over individual rights.

China will remain the top threat to US technological competitiveness as the CCP targets key technology sectors and proprietary commercial and military technology from US and allied companies and research institutions associated with defense, energy, finance, and other sectors. Beijing uses a variety of tools, from public investment to espionage and theft, to advance its technological capabilities.

Military Capabilities

China will continue pursuing its goals of becoming a great power, securing what it views as its territory, and establishing its preeminence in regional affairs by building a world-class military, potentially destabilizing international norms and relationships. China’s military commitment includes a multiyear agenda of comprehensive military reform initiatives.

  • We expect the PLA to continue pursuing overseas military installations and access agreements to enhance its ability to project power and protect Chinese interests abroad.
  • The PLA Navy and PLA Air Force are the largest in the region and continue to field advanced long-range platforms that improve China’s ability to project power. The PLA Rocket Force’s highly accurate short-, medium-, and intermediate-range conventional systems are capable of holding US and allied bases in the region at risk.


Beijing will continue the most rapid expansion and platform diversification of its nuclear arsenal in its history, intending to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile during the next decade and to field a nuclear triad. Beijing is not interested in arms control agreements that restrict its modernization plans and will not agree to substantive negotiations that lock in US or Russian nuclear advantages.

  • China is building a larger and increasingly capable nuclear missile force that is more survivable, more diverse, and on higher alert than in the past, including nuclear missile systems designed to manage regional escalation and ensure an intercontinental second-strike capability.


Beijing is working to match or exceed US capabilities in space to gain the military, economic, and prestige benefits that Washington has accrued from space leadership.

  • We expect a Chinese space station in low Earth orbit (LEO) to be operational between 2022 and 2024. China also has conducted and plans to conduct additional lunar exploration missions, and it intends to establish a robotic research station on the Moon and later an intermittently crewed lunar base.

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  • The PLA will continue to integrate space services—such as satellite reconnaissance and positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT)—and satellite communications into its weapons and command-and-control systems to erode the US military’s information advantage.

Counterspace operations will be integral to potential military campaigns by the PLA, and China has counterspace- weapons capabilities intended to target US and allied satellites.

  • Beijing continues to train its military space elements and field new destructive and nondestructive ground- and space-based antisatellite (ASAT) weapons.
  • China has already fielded ground-based ASAT missiles intended to destroy satellites in LEO and ground-based ASAT lasers probably intended to blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors on LEO satellites.


We assess that China presents a prolific and effective cyber-espionage threat, possesses substantial cyber-attack capabilities, and presents a growing influence threat. China’s cyber pursuits and proliferation of related technologies increase the threats of cyber attacks against the US homeland, suppression of US web content that Beijing views as threatening to its internal ideological control, and the expansion of technology-driven authoritarianism around the world.

  • We continue to assess that China can launch cyber attacks that, at a minimum, can cause localized, temporary disruptions to critical infrastructure within the United States.
  • China leads the world in applying surveillance systems and censorship to monitor its population and repress dissent, particularly among ethnic minorities, such as the Uyghurs. Beijing conducts cyber intrusions that affect US and non-US citizens beyond its borders—such as hacking journalists, stealing personal information, or attacking tools that allow free speech online—as part of its efforts to surveil perceived threats to CCP power and tailor influence efforts. Beijing is also using its assistance to global efforts to combat COVID-19 to export its surveillance tools and technologies.
  • China’s cyber-espionage operations have included compromising telecommunications firms, providers of managed services and broadly used software, and other targets potentially rich in follow-on opportunities for intelligence collection, attack, or influence operations.

Intelligence, Influence Operations, and Elections Influence and Interference

China will continue expanding its global intelligence footprint to better support its growing political, economic, and security interests around the world, increasingly challenging the United States’ alliances and partnerships. Across East Asia and the western Pacific, which Beijing views as its natural sphere of influence, China is attempting to exploit doubts about the US commitment to the region, undermine Taiwan’s democracy, and extend Beijing’s influence.

  • Beijing has been intensifying efforts to shape the political environment in the United States to promote its policy preferences, mold public discourse, pressure political figures whom Beijing believes oppose its interests, and muffle criticism of China on such issues as religious freedom and the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong.


Lieutenant General Berrier, DIA Director: Written Testimony, Senate Armed Services Committee, “Hearing: Worldwide Threats,” 29 April 2021.

p. 2

China and Russia, in particular, are pressing ahead with advances in space and counterspace capabilities and using cyberspace to increase their operational reach into U.S. infrastructure. They are also using the COVID-19 environment to conduct information warfare to undermine Western governments, attack Coalitions and compel economic and political outcomes in their favor.

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COVID-19 Pandemic

Unclear Origins

The true origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19 that emerged in China, remains unclear. DIA and the IC continue to examine new information to determine whether the initial outbreak occurred naturally through contact with infected animals or was the result of a laboratory accident.

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Chinese vaccine manufacturers claim that their vaccines have demonstrated 50- to 79-percent effectiveness in protecting individuals against COVID-19 in clinical trials, but they have yet to publish results to corroborate these statements.

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The COVID-19 pandemic provided new opportunities, especially for Russia and China, to identify cybersecurity vulnerabilities and steal information. Foreign cyberthreat actors are also disrupting the health care sector by stealing data and conducting ransomware attacks.


China poses a major security challenge and remains a long-term strategic competitor to the United States. Beijing views the international environment and China’s relationship with Washington as increasingly adversarial and perceives a number of threats to its sovereignty and security. China continues its decades-long military modernization campaign and ultimately aims to achieve its goal, first articulated in 2017, of establishing a “world-class military”—essentially a military as strong as that of the United States. Looking forward, an increasingly capable and lethal Chinese joint force will almost certainly be able to hold U.S. and allied forces at risk at greater distances from the Chinese mainland. At the same time, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) probably will extend its operational reach worldwide to support China’s global interests.

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Leadership Views and Goals

In 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping continued to consolidate power, providing Xi and the Chinese Communist Party added leverage to complete key military reforms. In October 2020, the party convened the Fifth Plenum of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. The ensuing communique likely signaled Xi’s singular political position within the party, declaring him the “core navigator and helmsman,” an invocation not used since Mao Zedong. The plenum outlined broad economic and military goals with an emphasis on China’s transition from an export-oriented economy to one driven by high-tech industries and domestic consumption. Beijing believes that China remains in “a period of important strategic opportunities.

Military Modernization

Chinese leaders characterize China’s long-term military modernization program as essential to achieving great-power status. The party’s new milestone to “basically” achieve military modernization by 2027, which was unveiled at the plenum, probably signals an intent to accelerate some modernization efforts to ensure that the PLA achieves its previously stated goals of completing military modernization by 2035 and transforming into a dominant military by 2049. A fully modern military likely means that by 2027, Beijing seeks to develop key capabilities and better posture for a conflict with any country it views as a threat, including the United States. The PLA frames its 2027 goal as necessary not only to safeguard China’s national security and development but also to promote global stability and prosperity, assuaging concerns about its intentions and to present China as a global leader. However, the PLA clearly states that it needs to modernize to close gaps with stronger military powers and to deter and subdue separatist forces (primarily Taiwan), while protecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China is pressing ahead with an ambitious military modernization agenda. The PLA modernization agenda focuses on developing and fielding advanced military capabilities in all warfighting domains—emphasizing long-range precision strike, air and maritime capabilities, cyberspace, electronic warfare,

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space and counterspace capabilities, and enhanced strategic nuclear forces—while also restructuring the PLA into a combat-capable global joint force. The PLA seeks a force capable of winning a number of high-end regional conflicts, including the forcible unification of Taiwan, while dissuading, deterring, or defeating third-party military intervention. At the same time, we expect the PLA to expand its capability to carry out smaller operations globally to support China’s interests.

China continued funding its military modernization programs despite COVID-19’s economic impact. Beijing announced in March that its official annual defense budget would grow 6.8 percent in 2021 to $210 billion, which is about 1.4 percent of GDP.

The PLA Rocket Force continues bolstering its ballistic long-range land-attack and antiship missile capabilities, which gives it the ability to conduct precision strikes in the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the South China Sea from mainland China. China continued emphasizing hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) to counter ballistic missile defense systems, including the claim they deployed their DF- 17 missile system with a conventionally armed HGV.

China is expanding and diversifying its nuclear arsenal. The Fifth Plenum communique in October 2020, specifically called for strengthening strategic forces and creating high-level strategic deterrence. Last year, we assessed that China had a nuclear warhead stockpile in the low-200s and projected it to at least double over the next decade. Since then, Beijing has accelerated its nuclear expansion and is on track to exceed our previous projectionPLA nuclear forces are expected to continue to grow with their nuclear stockpile likely to at least double in size over this decade and increase the threat to the U.S. homeland. China probably seeks to narrow, match, or in some areas exceed U.S. qualitative equivalency with new nuclear warheads and delivery platforms that at least equal the effectiveness, reliability, and/or survivability of some U.S. and Russian warheads and delivery platforms under development. The PLA continues to improve its pursuit of a nuclear triad, and increasing evidence indicates that Beijing seeks to keep a portion of its nuclear forces on a “launch-on-warning” posture.

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China probably has the technical expertise to weaponize chemical and biological agents and numerous conventional weapons systems that could be adapted to deliver these agents. China has consistently claimed that is has never researched, produced, or possessed biological weapons. However, China has engaged in potential dual-use biological activities and maintains sufficient biotechnology infrastructure to produce some biological agents or toxins on a large scale. China has declared it once operated a small offensive chemical weapons program but maintains the program was dismantled. China’s chemical infrastructure is sufficient to research, develop, and procure some chemical agents on a large scale.

China’s space program—managed by the PLA—continues to mature rapidly and invest in improving space-based ISR, satellite communication, satellite navigation, and meteorological capabilities as well as human spaceflight and robotic space exploration. China has built an expansive ground support infrastructure to support its growing on-orbit fleet and related functions. China continues to develop multiple counterspace capabilities designed to degrade and deny an adversary’s use of space-based assets during a crisis or conflict.

The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) continues fielding modern fighters, including the deployment of J-20 stealth fighters in September to China’s border with India during their military standoff. The PLAAF is also extending the range and capabilities of its bomber force. The PLA Navy (PLAN) continues a robust shipbuilding program by constructing new submarines, cruisers, a range of other surface warships and a new class aircraft carrier. The PLAN is developing into a global force, gradually extending its ability to sustain operations beyond East Asia.

Military Reform and Technology Policy

Military reforms in 2020 focused on enhancing the PLA’s ability to conduct joint operations, fighting high-intensity conflicts at greater distances from the Chinese mainland and strengthening the party’s control over the military. In a probable sign of the PLA’s confidence in the progress of reforms, the

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Central Military Commission (CMC) issued a trial update to the PLA’s joint doctrine in November that appears to codify warfighting reforms and will almost certainly improve the PLA’s ability to conduct joint operations.

China recognizes the synergy between high-tech development and defense and seeks to lead the shift toward “intelligentized” warfare through a national strategy of “military-civil fusion” by reforming its organizations for research and development as well as those for developing strategy and doctrine. China continues investing heavily in new capabilities, particularly in AI, which could increase China’s military and comprehensive national power. As of late 2020, Beijing is drafting new long-term goals for boosting scientific, technological, and economic strengths.

Military Exercises, Refrains From Nuclear Discussions

PLA exercises throughout 2020 likely focused on improving the PLA’s capacity to fight and win wars through joint operations under realistic combat scenarios. The CMC’s first order of 2020 was a training directive that emphasized the implementation of Xi Jinping’s ideological framework and focused on preparing for conflict with “strong enemy opponents”—a euphemism for the United States—under combat-realistic conditions across all warfighting domains. This training order almost certainly codifies the PLA’s benchmark for success as defeating the U.S. military. The PLA will likely continue these training and exercise themes through 2021.

For the third consecutive year, the PLA participated in Russia’s annual strategic exercise, although likely on a smaller scale than in the past because of probable pandemic-related travel restrictions. China and Russia also conducted their second combined bomber patrol in December 2020, the first since the inaugural patrol in July 2019, and both countries probably view the patrol as messaging the West that their strategic relationship is deepening. China also signaled its continuing reluctance to participate in meaningful arms control and risk reduction discussions with the United States most recently rejecting

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multiple U.S. invitations throughout 2020 to join nuclear discussions between the United States and Russia.

Territorial Issues and Coercive Actions

A number of perceived challenges to China’s territorial integrity and internal stability drive Beijing’s goals. Throughout 2020, Beijing took several actions to strengthen political control within China and assert its territorial claims around its periphery. Internally, Beijing passed a security law in July 2020 that severely undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy and basic freedoms previously granted to Hong Kong residents. At the same time, Beijing continued a policy of forced assimilation of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet. China previously had sought to deepen economic ties with Taiwan while using military pressure to deter the island from achieving formal independence, but it has now likely hardened its position and is using military pressure tactics to coerce Taiwan into accepting China’s unification agenda. Beijing pressured Taipei and conducted military operations near Taiwan and Taiwan-held islands, very likely to message increased displeasure with U.S.-Taiwan ties. For example, the PLA Air Force and PLA Navy conducted provocative transits and military exercises near Taiwan, including entering Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and deliberately crossing the Taiwan Strait centerline—the median line of the strait that Beijing has generally respected but recently announced does not exist. In 2020, relations between China and India deteriorated as the military standoff along their disputed border intensified. The situation culminated in a June clash that resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers and the two countries coming closer to war than they have been in decades.

In the South China Sea, China employed coercive approaches—such as using law enforcement vessels and maritime militias to enforce claims and advance interests—to deal with disputes in ways calculated to remain below the threshold of provoking armed conflict. In April, Beijing named 80 geographic features and announced two new administrative subdistricts covering disputed territory and maritime areas in the South China Sea. China also conducted a coercive survey operation, using a government

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research vessel and multiple Chinese Coast Guard vessels, to follow a Malaysian hydrocarbon exploration vessel within Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone. In August 2020, China test-fired multiple ballistic missiles that landed near Hainan and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Further, China’s Spratly Islands outposts are equipped with advanced antiship and antiaircraft missile systems and jamming equipment, comprising the most capable land-based weapons systems deployed by any claimant in the South China Sea.

In the East China Sea, China named 50 geographic features and continued using maritime law enforcement ships and aircraft to patrol near the Senkaku Islands and challenge Japan’s territorial claim to and administration of the islands.

Relations between China and Australia deteriorated in late 2020 with China restricting trade and engaging in high-profile diplomatic rows with Australia—including arbitrary detentions of Australian citizens—for supporting what China viewed as U.S.-led anti-Chinese measures. Effective 1 February 2021, China passed a law authorizing its coast guard ships to detain or forcibly evict foreign vessels in China’s claimed jurisdictional waters, impacting both the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

China and North Korea

China continued its practice of maneuvering between sanctions enforcement and actions that it likely believes could destabilize North Korea and risk a conflict in which the PLA might operate near U.S. and allied forces. Further strengthening of ties between Beijing and Pyongyang probably stalled in 2020 because of North Korean concerns over COVID-19, and Beijing probably remains concerned about COVID-19’s effects on regime stability in Pyongyang.

Global Presence

Beijing curtailed a number of foreign engagements due to COVID-19; however, it continued several prominent engagements across the globe almost certainly aimed at shaping international perceptions of its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and sustaining high-priority diplomatic and security outreach.

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China undertook a range of military missions including power projection, sea-lane security, counterpiracy, peacekeeping operations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. For example, for the first time, the PLAAF expanded its global air operations to western and southern Africa, and PLAAF heavy-lift transport aircraft conducted the majority of PLA flights abroad to support military diplomacy and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Beijing also exploited its BRI relationships and infrastructure to expand the Health Silk Road component of the BRI and promote vaccine and medical diplomacy, which Beijing could use to expand its presence and potentially advance defense ties.

China seeks to establish a more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure to allow the PLA to project and sustain military power at greater distances. China’s leaders may assess that a mixture of models—including preferred access to commercial infrastructure abroad, exclusive PLA logistics facilities with pre-positioned supplies collocated with commercial infrastructure, and bases with stationed forces—most closely aligns with China’s overseas military logistics needs. Beyond its base in Djibouti, China very likely is already considering and planning for additional PLA logistics facilities in several countries in Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East to support naval, air, and ground force deployments and probably has made overtures to countries in Africa and the Pacific IslandsThe PLA’s approach likely includes considering many different sites and outreach to many countries while expecting that only some will advance to negotiations for an infrastructure agreement, status of forces or visiting forces agreement, or basing agreement. In Latin America, China is expanding its military activity and presence. For example, the Strategic Support Force runs a tracking, telemetry, and command station in Argentina, and China may seek access agreements in South America to support its Antarctic presence.

China has increased its activities in the Arctic and Antarctic to increase its influence, legitimacy, and engagement. China’s Arctic strategy highlights its icebreaker vessels and research stations as integral to

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the strategy’s implementation, and China used its first domestically built civilian icebreaker to complete Arctic and Antarctic expeditions in 2020.

The next 12 to 18 months will be extremely important for China broadly and Xi Jinping personally. Beijing probably will attempt to portray China as an increasingly powerful, stable, and prosperous state as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). While holding the CCP up to the Chinese populace as the primary driver for China’s success, Chinese leaders probably will continue to address a number of security challenges including the increasing competition with the United States, consolidating control over Hong Kong, solidifying its position in disputed regions, and increasing its ability to protect Chinese interests abroad.



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Chairman Reed: … … … It is against this backdrop that the Department of Defense has appropriately identified China as the pacing

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threat for the United States military. At the same time, we must avoid contributing to a perception that China is 10 feet tall. I hope our witnesses today will also describe the challenges facing China, including demographic, economic, and governmental, and how the United States and our extensive network of allies and partners can best take advantage of them in the coming years.

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… … … And while China poses an increasingly formidable challenge to the U.S. role in global affairs, it is worth noting, as the chairman did, that its economic, environmental, and demographic vulnerabilities all threaten to complicate its ability to manage the transition to the dominate [dominant] role it appears it aspires to in the decades ahead.

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… … China remains a long-term strategic competitor to the United States. As a pacing threat, it poses a major security challenge. Beijing views the international environment and its ties to Washington as increasingly adversarial. It uses multiple approaches, including diplomatic, economic, espionage, and military to achieve its strategic aims.

China continues its decades-long military modernization to build an increasingly lethal force that will almost certainly be able to hold U.S. and allied forces at risk at greater distances from the Chinese mainland.

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Both China and Russia consider space integral to winning wars and have reorganized their militaries to integrate space operations and counterspace capabilities.

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Chairman Reed: Just a quick follow-up. Some have suggested, I think Admiral Davidson, when he was here, said there is a critical time frame between now and 2030 in terms of Taiwan, 6 years, because his interpretation, as I recall, was out to that demographic issues, economic issues start playing a more prominent role in Chinese policy. So, is there any sense, Director Haines, of a timing issue here or a period of vulnerability?
Ms. Haines: I think maybe we can discuss this further in closed session?
Chairman Reed: Yeah, I would be happy to. Thank you.
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Senator Fischer: Thank you. Also, General Ashley stated, quote, the United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to the nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the yield, or with the zero-yield standard. The United States, by contrast, is upholding a zero-yield standard, end quote. He went on to indicate that China was also not adhering to the same zero-yield approach to nuclear testing that the United States observes.

 Does that still remain the DIA’s assessment?

General Berrier: It does, Senator.

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Senator Cotton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

General Berrier, you stated in your testimony submitted ahead of this hearing that we previously expected China to double their nuclear stockpile by the end of the decade, but both you and Admiral Richard have now testified before the committee that the PLA is going to exceed that estimate. Why do you think the PLA is so rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal, is it to defend its homeland? Deter perceived regional threats? Or to project power globally?

General Berrier: Senator Cotton, thank you for the

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question. Broadly speaking, China’s rise has also included in massive military modernization and in the span of capabilities that they have, the nuclear piece has been one component. It has been a priority for them and I think they have racked and stacked that in the things that they think need to get done by 2030 or 2035, and so I think they accelerated this as a deterrent, quite honestly.

Senator Cotton: Why do you say that the Chinese Government tends to keep its nuclear forces in a launch-inuring [launch-on-warning] posture, and how is that a change from previous assessments of China’s nuclear forces?

General Berrier: Senator Cotton, I think the Chinese military, through their modernization and training efforts, have undergone a lot of exercises where they try to understand what gives them the most viable capability and the quickest, and I think this is an evolution of their training and doctrine.

Senator Cotton: Is China capable of arming its hypersonic flight vehicles with nuclear warheads, and if so, what kind of risk does that pose to the United States and our interests?

General Berrier: The answer to that question is, yes, and that poses a significant risk.

Senator Cotton: Can you explain why it poses that significant risk.

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General Berrier: The speed at which those weapons travel makes it very, very difficult to track and [over] their entire trajectory. We can go into more are detail, Senator, in a closed session.

Senator Cotton: As compared to a traditional ballistic missile?

General Berrier: Correct.