16 January 2024

Xi’s Fast & Furious Nuclear Buildup & Beyond: Key Content from Pentagon’s 2023 China Military Power Report

Andrew S. Erickson, “Xi’s Fast & Furious Nuclear Buildup & Beyond: Key Text from Pentagon’s 2023 China Military Power Report,” China Analysis from Original Sources 以第一手资料研究中国, 16 January 2024.

Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2023 (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, October 19, 2023).

  • Publication summarizing report’s China nuclear weapons-related content:

Gabriel B. Collins and Andrew S. EricksonReaping the Whirlwind: How China’s Coercive Annexation of Taiwan Could Trigger Nuclear Proliferation in Asia and Beyond (Houston, TX: Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University, 25 October 2023).



[Please note: bolding, underlining, italics, annotations in brackets, etc. are from me – Andrew Erickson – and not from the original report itself. Be sure to check the report’s exact text firsthand here.]

 p. i

“The 2022 National Security Strategy states that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the only competitor to the United States with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order.”

“This report covers security and military developments involving the PRC until the end of 2022.”

p. iv

PLA 2027 milestone reaffirmed in Xi’s October 2022 speech

During his October 2022 speech at the opening ceremony of the 20th Party Congress, Xi reaffirmed his commitment to the PLA’s 2027 milestone for modernization to accelerate the integrated development of mechanization, informatization, and intelligentization of the PRC’s armed forces. If realized, this capability milestone could give the PLA the capacity to be a more credible military tool for the CCP’s Taiwan unification efforts.”

Multi-domain precision warfare

In 2022, the PLA continued discussing a new “core operational concept,” called “Multi-Domain Precision Warfare (多域精确战) (MDPW). MDPW is intended to leverage a C4ISR network that incorporates advances in big data and artificial intelligence to rapidly identify key vulnerabilities in the U.S. operational system and then combine joint forces across  domains to launch precision strikes against those vulnerabilities.

p. v

PLAN sub/surface precision LACM strikes coming soon (+ p. 52)

p. vi

May be exploring conventional IRBMs (+ pp. 66-67)

The PRC may be exploring development of conventionally-armed intercontinental range missile systems. If developed and fielded, such capabilities would allow the PRC to threaten conventional strikes against targets in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska.”

p. viii

Precision weapons—“war control” vice escalation—do only what is needed, and no more [but usability incentive???]

PLA writings state that precision weapons are not only force multipliers, but also a means of “war control” to prevent escalation.

Robust IADS—SCS outpost radars/air defense weapons extend

“The PRC has a robust and redundant IADS architecture over land areas and within 300 nm (556 km) of its coast that relies on an extensive early warning radar network, fighter aircraft, and a variety of SAM systems. The PRC has also placed radars and air defense weapons on outposts in the SCS, further extending the range of its IADS.”


“The PRC’s deployment of the DF-17 HGV-armed MRBM will continue to transform the PLA’s missile force. The system is possibly intended to replace some older SRBM units and is intended to strike foreign military bases and fleets in the Western Pacific, according to a PRC-based military expert.”

Ability to cyber disrupt natural gas pipeline for weeks

p. viii

Space-based ISR, space surveillance, and counterspace increasing

May 2023: >500 nuclear warheads (increase from previous projection)

>1,000 operational nuclear warheads by 2030, much higher readiness levels (exceeds previous projections)

p. ix

300 or more new ICBM silos, at least some loaded (to LOW)

Fielding DF-5C & JL-3 SLBMs

“Throughout 2022, the PRC deployed PLAN, CCG, and civilian [Not civilian, PAFMM!] ships to maintain a presence in disputed areas, such as near Scarborough Reef and Thitu Island, as well as in response to oil and gas exploration operations by rival claimants within the PRC’s claimed “nine-dash line.””

p. x

Coercive, risky operational behavior

p. xi

PRC access to parts of Ream Naval Base

PRC likely has also considered other locations for military logistics facilities

“In June 2022, a PRC official confirmed that the PLA would have access to parts of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base. [Witnessed Shangri La Dialogue 2022 Cambodia Defense Minister presentation.] The PRC probably also has considered other countries as locations for PLA military logistics facilities, including Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, Nigeria, Namibia,Mozambique, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tajikistan.”

p. xii

Fujian CV has EM cats, more hulls to follow in class (+ p. 54, pp. 57-58)

p. 3

“full reunification”—resolve Taiwan by 2049

Officially legal PLA mobilization to defend overseas interests

p. 4

2035/2049 goals

p. 8-9

Central National Security Council (CNSC)

National Security Strategy

National Security Law

p. 13


p. 15

$12 million in drones to Russia

“China’s expansive and unregulated commercial drone market has allowed Russian defense forces to routinely acquire small drones and dual-use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to support their war in Ukraine. Between March 2022 and 2023, Chinese firms exported more than $12 million worth of drones and drone components to Russia. Chinese-origin drones have been employed by Russian forces for targeting, surveillance, and strike missions in Ukraine. In August 2023, Beijing announced it would implement its first controls on the civilian and dual-use drone market, as well as the sale of civilian-use counter-UAV systems, in response to international speculation over Chinese drones’ use in Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.”

p. 17

Solomon Islands Security Agreement

According to a draft copy of the China-Solomon Islands Security Agreement, China would be permitted to send armed policy and military personnel to the Solomon Islands to help maintain order, though Honiara denied this would lead to a PRC military base. Beijing probably seeks to use security agreements with the PICs to justify the expansion of PLA security activities in the region.”

PRC settled 11 land-based territorial disputes with 6 neighbors since 1998

p. 19

Double standard in intel ship deployment

“The PRC has long challenged foreign military activities in its claimed exclusive economic zone

(EEZ) in a manner that is inconsistent with the rules of customary international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, in recent years, the PLA has begun conducting the same types of military activities inside and outside the First Island Chain (FIC) in the EEZs of other countries, including the United States. This activity highlights China’s double standard in the application of its interpretation of international law. Examples include sending intelligence collection ships to collect on military exercises such as the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise off Hawaii in 2014 and 2018, TALISMAN SABER off Australia in 2017, 2019, and 2021, and operating near Alaska in 2017 and 2021. PRC survey ships are also extremely active in the SCS and frequently operate in the claimed EEZs of other nations in the region such as the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

p. 23

National Defense Transportation Law, etc.

p. 31

Common Mil-Civ Standards have facilitated land reclamation and military construction in SCS

“Another element seeks to set common military and civilian standards to make infrastructure easier to use in emergencies and wartime. This aspect of MCF has arguably the greatest reach into the PRC’s local governance systems as military requirements inform infrastructure construction at the province, county, and township levels. The influence of this aspect of MCF is visible in the PRC’s major land reclamations and military construction activities in the SCS, which brought together numerous government entities, the PLA, law enforcement, construction companies, and commercial entities.”

p. 34 


“In 2020, the PLA added a new milestone for modernization in 2027, to accelerate the integrated development of mechanization, informatization, and intelligentization of the PRC’s armed forces, which, if realized, could give the PLA capabilities to be a more credible military tool for the CCP’s Taiwan unification efforts. During his October 2022 speech at the opening ceremony of the 20th Party Congress, Xi stated that China intends to complete the plan to modernize the PLA by 2027.”


p. 38 

effective restraint of warfare

“The dialectical unity of restraining war and winning war. This tenet seeks to resolve the dilemma that using too little force may protract a war instead of stopping it while the unconstrained use of force may worsen a war and make it harder to stop. Calling for the “effective restraint of warfare,” this tenet seeks to avoid war first through sufficient military preparations and powerful conventional and strategic forces that act in concert with political and diplomatic efforts to “subdue the enemy’s troops without fighting.” If war is unavoidable, however, this aspect calls for restraining war by taking the “opening move” and “using war to stop war.”

p. 39


“The PLA’s 2027 modernization goal aligns with the 100th anniversary of the PLA’s founding. During his October 2022 speech at the opening ceremony of the 20th Party Congress, Xi said that China intends to complete the plan to modernize the PLA by 2027. In a March 2021 speech, Xi detailed that the 2027 modernization goal is the first step in a broader modernization effort. PLA writings note the “three-step” modernization plan connects “near-, medium-, and long-term goals in 2027, 2035, and 2049” respectively.

The PRC’s goals for modernizing its armed forces in the “New Era” are as follows:

  • By 2027: “Accelerate the integrated development of mechanization, informatization, and intelligentization,” while boosting the speed of modernization in military theories, organizations, personnel, and weapons and equipment.”

“The 5th Plenum communique holds that the 2027 goal means that the Chinese military should comprehensively push forward the modernization of military theories, military organizational form, military personnel, and weapons and equipment. PRC media, citing a military source, connected the PLA’s 2027 goals to developing the capabilities to counter the U.S. military in the Indo-Pacific region, and compel Taiwan’s leadership to the negotiation table on the PRC’s terms.

p. 41

Core operational concept: MDPW

In 2021, the PLA began discussing a new “core operational concept,” called Multi-Domain Precision Warfare (多域精确战) (MDPW). MDPW is intended to leverage a C4ISR network that incorporates advances in big data and artificial intelligence, what the PLA calls the “network information system-of-systems,” to rapidly identify key vulnerabilities in the U.S. operational system and then combine joint forces across domains to launch precision strikes against those vulnerabilities. MDPW is meant to sit atop an “operational conceptual system-of systems,” suggesting the PLA will develop additional subordinate operational concepts and use simulations, war games, and exercises to test, evaluate, and improve these future-oriented operational concepts. The timing of MDPW’s appearance vis-à-vis China’s updated doctrine and military strategic guidelines suggests that MDPW serves as a connection between them, likely amplifying themes and guidance in both while focusing on the contours of what the PLA must be able to do to win future wars.”

2022.08 at least 4 ballistic missiles overflew Taiwan

“During the August 2022 Congressional Delegation (CODEL) visit to Taiwan, the PLA Rocket Force fired multiple ballistic missiles into impact zones in waters around Taiwan; this included at least four missiles that overflew Taiwan, which was unprecedented. The military drills afforded the PLA an opportunity to train simulated joint firepower strike operations.”

p. 42

5 Incompatibles

p. 46

Military Leadership Organizational Chart

p. 47

World’s largest active-duty military force

“The PLA is the world’s largest active-duty military force and comprised of approximately 2.185 million active, 1.17 million reserve, and 660,000 paramilitary personnel for a total force of 4 million.”

2027 benchmark

“The force also progresses toward its 2027 benchmark of military modernization that aligns with the 100th anniversary of the PLA’s founding on August 1, 1927. The 2027 benchmark, introduced during the 14th Five Year Plan”

p. 48

“(2021-2025), represents the start of the new three-step development strategy that continues Xi’s approach of military reform to transform the PLA. The original three-step modernization strategy sought to achieve mechanization by 2020; modernization of military theory, organization, personnel, and equipment by 2035; and to become a world-class force by mid-century. With basic mechanization considered achieved in 2020, the 2027 goal is a short-term marker and represents a modification, not a compression in timeline, [distinction = ???] for China’s ambition to achieve complete military modernization of the PLA by 2035. The PLA centenary goal set by the CCP accelerates the integrated development of mechanization, informatization, and intelligentization and to field a combat-ready force with improved strategic capabilities to defend national sovereignty, security, and development interests by 2027.”

p. 50

First-ever CMPR mention of PCH191 [AKA PHL-16]

Used in 2022.08 PLA exercise

The PLAA used its new PCH191 long-range rocket artillery system during live fire events along China’s east coast as a response to the U.S. CODEL in August 2022. The new long-range MRL is capable of striking Taiwanfrom mainland China.”

p. 52

Construction 4th Yushen LHA by early 2023

“In 2022, the PLAN commissioned its third YUSHEN-class Amphibious Assault Ships (LHA) and has likely begun construction on a fourth as of early 2023.”

PLAN >370 ships & submarines, including >140 major surface combatants

Intel collection ships—double standard

“The PRC has long challenged foreign military activities in its EEZ in a manner that is inconsistent with the rules of customary international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, in recent years, the PLA has begun conducting the same types of military activities inside and outside the FIC in the EEZs of other countries, including the United States. This activity highlights the PRC’s double standard in the application of its interpretation of international law. Examples include sending intelligence collection ships to collect on military”

p. 53

“exercises such as the RIMPAC exercise off Hawaii in 2014, 2018, and 2022, TALISMAN SABER off Australia in 2017, 2019, and 2021, and operating near Alaska in 2017 and 2021. Chinese intelligence collection ships also operated near sensitivity defense facilities off Australia’s west coast in May 2022 and near Japan in July 2022.PRC survey ships are also extremely active in the SCS and they frequently operate in the claimed EEZs of other nations in the region such as the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.”

Sizeable force of highly capable logistics replenishment ships, e.g., Fuyu AOEs

p. 54

CV-18 Fujian to be commissioned in 2024, first in series, electromagnetic cats (+ p. xii, 57-58)

p. 55

PLAN ship numbers: 2025—395, 2030—435

Much growth in major surface combatants

Current PLAN submarine force: 6 SSBNs, 6 SSNs, 48 SS (60 total)

2025 total: 65

2030 total: 80

“The PLAN has placed a high priority on modernizing its submarine force….”

Expansion in submarine construction capacity, and its utilization in practice, will substantially exceed old platform retirements.

First credible deterrent: 6 operational 094s

“the PLAN’s six operational JIN-class SSBNs represent the PRC’s first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.”

JL-2 or JL-3

With longer range SSBN, 096 likely to begin construction in near future.

“The PRC’s next-generation TYPE 096 SSBN will reportedly be armed with follow-on longer range SLBM. The TYPE 096 will likely begin construction in the near future.”

“the PRC will operate its JIN and TYPE 096 SSBN fleets concurrently in the 2030s. This would align with Xi’s 2018 directive for the SSBN force to achieve ‘stronger growth’.”

 p. 56

2022.05-2023.01: 2 093B SSGNs launched; could have three operational by 2025



…deep water ASW weakness

Jiangkai II: from 33 to 40+

Jiangkai III

Jiangdao: production run completed at 72 in February 2021.

Luoyang III: 25 (with additional hulls under construction)

–Lengthened mod 12 (with additional hulls under construction)

Renhai: 8 (with additional hulls under construction)

Early 2022: Renhai test-launch 540 NM ASBM

–Possibly Luyang III/mod launchable

“In early 2022, the PLAN released a video of RENHAI CG test launching an anti-ship ballistic missile with a reported/estimated range of 540NM. The new ship launched anti-ship ballistic missile can possibly be launched by the LUYANG III and LUYANG III MOD DDGs.”

p. 57


YJ-83 (135 nm)

YJ-62 (270 nm): Luyang II

YJ-18A (290 nm): Luyang III, Renhai

YJ-12A supersonic (270 nm): modernized destroyers, next-generation frigates

SS-N-27B (120 nm): 8 of 12 Kilos; improved YJ-18 on Song, Yuan, Shang

Containerized YJ-18 for covert employment on merchant ships!

“It is possible the PRC is developing a launcher that can fit inside a standard commercial shipping container for covert employment of the YJ-18 aboard merchant ships.”

Filling OTH targeting gap

“The PLAN recognizes that long-range ASCMs require a robust, over-the-horizon (OTH) targeting capability to realize their full potential. To fill this capability gap, the PLA is investing in joint reconnaissance, surveillance, command, control, and communications systems at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels to provide high-fidelity targeting information to surface and subsurface launch platforms.”

LACMs likely on cruisers, destroyers, Shang III SSGN


3-4 075 LHAs

8 071 LPDs, which can carry several Yuyi LCACs and/or Yubu LCUs

p. 58

Shandong CV operational (+ pp. xii, 54)

Shipborne aircraft under development:

J-15 catapult variant, J-15S taker, J-15D EW

J-35 variant of J-31, conducted first flight 2021

KJ-600 AEW flight testing since 2020

Z-20F in development for Renhai, Luyang III mod, 075 LHA

Sea trials for VTOL UAVs (ISR): SD0-40, CSC-005, S-100 Camcopter, AV-500 UAV

Land-based aircraft

H-6J (H-6K naval variant), carries YJ-12

Y-9 ASW/Maritime Patrol aircraft with MAD

p. 59

fixed-wing medium-to-large UAVs: Xianglong HALE, BZK-005 MALE, ASN-209 MAME

Auxiliary ships: first domestic polar icebreaker—Xuelong 2


JL-2 3,900 nm

JL-3 >5,400 nm: portions of CONUS targetable from PRC littoral

p. 60

PLANMC: counter-piracy embarkations from Djibouti; evacuation and assist not yet seen

Amphibious sealift assault with RO-ROs, LCACs

“The PLANMC aviation brigade participated in three-dimensional amphibious assault training during the year which included air assault components, amphibious assault vehicles, and a combination of Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) and assault boats. This training was conducted in conjunction with a commercial roll-on/roll-off vessel as the PLANMC continues to increase their integration with civilian vessels and expanding their sealift means.”

p. 62

PLAAF & PLAN Aviation

PRC military aviation: most aircraft in region, third-most in world

3,150 aircraft; 2,400 combat

PLAAF: “offensive and defensive operations”

J-20 operationally fielded, new 2-seater variant

Upgrades may include installing higher-thrust WS-15 engines for supercruise capability

FC-31/J-31 export/carrier variants

p. 63

H-6K has turbofan engines, standoff weapons including 6 LACMs

Can range Second Island Chain targets from PRC airfields

H-6G long supported maritime missions; new H-6J (marinized H-6K) carries six YJ-12 ASCMs, enabling anti-ship targeting out to the Second Island Chain

H-6N operationally fielded; 2020.10 observed carrying ALBM, may be nuclear-capable.

Y-9/GX-11 jamming/ECM

AEW&C: Extends IADS

KJ-500: aerially refuellable



Aerial refueling:


Larger IL-78 Midas (small number)

Developing Y-20 variant

p. 64

AG600: world’s largest seaplane


Xianglong jet-powered

WZ-8 supersonic

GJ-11 stealth UCAV mod

Maritime ISR: BZK-005, TW-328/TB001

One of world’s largest advanced long-range SAM forces

S-300 + HQ-9/-9B

S-400 + HQ-19 BMD

KKV—midcourse interceptor, tested 2021.02.04; will form upper-layer multi-tier missile defense.

p. 66 


Conventionally-armed ICBMs: “significant risk to strategic stability” (+ pp. vi, viii, 103-14)

“The PRC may be exploring development of conventionally-armed intercontinental range missile systems. If developed and fielded, such capabilities would allow the PRC to threaten conventional strikes against targets in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. Conventionally-armed ICBMs would present significant risks to strategic stability.”

DF-21D: LRPS vs. ships

DF-26 fielded 2016

p. 67

DF-26 designed to rapidly swap conventional/nuke warheads, capable of precision land-attack/anti-ship strikes in SCS, WESTPAC, IO

2020 ASBM test vs. moving target

Developing/testing several new variants theater missiles

Develop anti-BMD capabilities/methods

DF-17 passed several tests, deployed vs. foreign bases/fleets

“DF-26 is designed to rapidly swap conventional and nuclear warheads and is capable of conducting precision land-attack and anti-ship strikes in the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the SCS from mainland China. In 2020, the PRC fired anti-ship ballistic missiles against a moving target in the SCS. The PLARF is developing and testing several new variants of theater-range missiles and developing capabilities and methods to counter adversary BMD systems. The DF-17 passed several tests successfully and is deployed operationally. In 2020, a PRC-based military expert described the primary purpose of the DF-17 as striking foreign military bases and fleets in the Western Pacific. The PRC may be exploring development of conventionally-armed intercontinental range missile systems. If developed and fielded, such capabilities would allow the PRC to threaten conventional strikes against targets in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. Conventionally-armed ICBMs would present significant risks to strategic stability.

350 ICBMs

DF-5 mod has 5 MIRVs

DF-41 deployed, 2 brigades

DF-27 IRBM/ICBM: 5,000-8,000 km range

Strategic HGV


“The PLARF is developing ICBMs that will significantly improve its nuclear-capable missile forces with more survivable delivery systems. The PRC has doubled and continues to grow the number of launchers at most ICBM units. The PRC’s ICBM arsenal consists of approximately 350 ICBMs, including fixed and mobile launchers capable of launching unitary and multiple reentry vehicles. The PRC’s fixed ICBMs consist of the multiple CSS-4 (DF-5)-class missiles, one of which is capable of carrying up to five (Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) MIRV’s and a silo-based CSS-10-class missile. The solid-fueled, road-mobile CSS-10 (DF-31)-class and CSS-20 (DF-41) ICBMs complement this force. The CSS-10 Mod 2 (DF-31A), with a range in excess of 11,000 km, can reach most locations within the continental United States. The DF-41 ICBM has been operationally deployed with commentary during the 2019 parade noting that two brigades existed for the system. Additionally, sources indicate a “long-range” DF-27 ballistic missile is in development. Official PRC military writings indicate this range-class spans 5,000-8,000 km, which means the DF-27 could be a new IRBM or ICBM. The PRC probably is developing advanced nuclear delivery systems such as a strategic hypersonic glide vehicle and a fractional orbital bombardment (FOB) system.”

p. 70

SSF: civilian reserve and militia units augment cyber ops

p. 71

SSF Space Systems Department: handles nearly all PLA space ops, including space warfare, via 8 or more bases.

Yuanwang space event support ships track satellite and ICBM launches.

p. 72

China has 5 space launch sites: 4 land-based, 1 sea-based

p. 74 

JLSF: combat-oriented modern logistics system

Military Representative Offices—loading experts

p. 75

Training & Readiness

Likely challenges with joint ops, C2, tactical and small unit leadership

During 2022.08 Pelosi visit, 27 PLA aircraft entered Taiwan ADIZ, including 22 crossed Taiwan Strait median; subsequent heightened readiness and incidence of centerline crossings

PLA Reserves, Paramilitary, Militia: increasing operability, integration


p. 76

Internal security: MPS, MSS, PAP, PLA, Militia

Militia force/org details

p. 77

CMM often performs tasks in conjunction/coordination with PLAN & CCG

“Local maritime militia forces…perform tasks including safeguarding maritime claims, protecting fisheries, providing logistic support, search and rescue, and surveillance and reconnaissance, often in conjunction or coordination with the PLAN and the CCG.”

p. 78

CCG = 1/3 main parts of PAP

“The PAP is organized into three main parts: the Internal Security Corps, the Mobile Corps, and the CCG.

p. 79

PAP forces probably op in Tajikistan since 2016

CCG: >150 regional/oceangoing patrol vessels >1,000 tons; including >20 corvettes from PLAN

p. 80

>50 regional patrol combatants >500 tons

300 coastal patrol craft (100-499 tons)

China Maritime Militia

CMM train with/assist PLAN + CCG

“CMM vessels train with and assist the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the China Coast Guard (CCG) in tasks such as safeguarding maritime claims, surveillance and reconnaissance, fisheries protection, logistics support, and search and rescue.”

Possible CMM near Natunas—ambition to expand ops?

“These operations traditionally take place within the FIC along China’s coast and near disputed features in the SCS such as the Second Thomas Shoal, Scarborough Reed, and Luconia Shoal. However, the presence of possible CMM vessels mixed in with Chinese fishing vessels near Indonesia’s Natuna Island outside of the “nine-dashed line” on Chinese maps indicated a possible ambition to expand CMM operations within the region.”

Often supplement CCG cutters at forefront of incident

2021.09-2022.09: Iroquois Reef

2020 West Capella

1950s offshore island campaigns

Occupation of Mischief Reef 1994

CMM units have been active for decades in incidents and combat operations throughout China’s [!!] near seasand in these incidents CMM vessels are often used to supplement CCG cutters at the forefront of the incident, giving the Chinese the capacity to outweigh and outlast rival claimants. From September 2021 to September 2022, maritime militia vessels were a constant presence near Iroquois Reef in the Spratly Islands within the Philippines EEZ. Other notable examples include standoffs with the Malaysia drill ship West Capella (2020), defense of China’s HYSY-981 drill rig in waters disputed with Vietnam (2014), occupation of Scarborough Reef (2012), and harassment of USNS Impeccable and Howard O. Lorenzen (2009 and 2014). Historically, the maritime militia also participated in China’s offshore island campaigns in the 1950s, the 1974 seizure of the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam, the occupation of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in 1994.”

p. 81

Beihai MM: mainland based, to Spratlys/Southern SCS

From 2014: new Spratly backbone fleet from major CMM units in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan. With 235 or more large steel hulls; many >50 m, >500 tons. Deploy to disputed Spratly waters below 12 degrees North.

Sansha MM—light arms

“Starting in 2015, the Sansha City Maritime Militia in the Paracel Islands has been developed into a salaried full-time maritime militia force with its own command center and equipped with at least 84 purpose-built vessels armed with mast-mounted water cannons for spraying and reinforced steel hulls for ramming. Freed from their normal fishing responsibilities, Sansha City Maritime Militia personnel – many of whom are former PLAN and CCG sailors – train for peacetime and wartime

p. 82 

Sansha MM—light arms

contingencies, often with light arms, and patrol regularly around disputed South China Sea  features even during fishing moratoriums.

Tanmen MM—Xi: support SCS “island and reef development”

1989-95 under SSF authority

Occupation/reclamation of PRC Spratly outposts: Subi, Fiery Cross, Mischief

“The Tanmen Maritime Militia is another prominent CMM unit. Homeported in Tanmen township on Hainan Island, the formation was described by Xi as a “model maritime militia unit” during a visit to Tanmen harbor in 2013. During the visit, Xi encouraged Tanmen to support “island and reef development” in the SCS. Between 1989 and 1995, the Tanmen Maritime Militia, under theauthority of the PLAN Southern Theater Navy (then the South Sea Fleet), was involved in the occupation and reclamation of PRC outposts in the Spratly Islands, including Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, and Mischief Reef.

SOF lacks real world combat experience, national level Special Ops Command; suffers from seams re PAP, Theater Commands, etc.

p. 83


PLANMC SOF in 2020.12 island seizure exercise

p. 86

PLA SOF does not cover many U.S. SOF activities

Example: PLA Political Department System handles psy ops


~70 PLANMC SOF to GoA on PLAN ships

2015 PLA SOF to Nepal post-quake

2015 PLANMC SOF helped evacuate foreigners from Yemen War

2017 PLANMC SOF recaptured Somali pirate-hijacked freighter

2020 PLA SOF in Tibet MR deployed to Indian border

Underground Facilities: PRC has thousands, constructs more each year


force multipliers

“war control”—military effects at limited damage/cost

Prevent escalation

Guam targetable by:

Cruise missiles—H-6K with LACMs, Renhai/other PLAN ships to deploy LACMs

Ballistic missiles—DF-26 nuclear, precision conventional, maritime

“The PRC views its ability to acquire timely, high-fidelity information as critical to its ability to execute precision strikes. The PLA’s information support system for precision strikes depends heavily on Strategic Support Force (SSF) assets to detect, identify, target, and conduct battlefield damage assessments. The PRC emphasizes the importance of space-based surveillance capabilities in supporting precision strikes and, in 2022, continued to develop its constellation of military reconnaissance satellites that could support monitoring, tracking, and targeting of U.S. and allied forces. The PRC is also investing in reconnaissance, surveillance, command, control, and communications systems at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels to provide high fidelity OTH targeting information for its strike platforms.”


Extended by radars/air defense weapons on SCS outposts

HQ-9, -9B

S-300PMU, PMU1/2


Ballistic Missile/Cruise Missile Defenses

HQ-9 limited point defense against tactical ballistic missiles

p. 90


S-300PMU2/S-400: capability depends on interceptor, supporting infrastructure

Working on exo/endo kinetic interceptors, including midcourse interceptor vs. IRBMs, ICBMs

Type 055 will forward-deploy midcourse interceptors

HQ-19 tested vs. 3,000km ballistic missiles

Cruise Missile Defense

More robust than BMD

Long-range SAMs

Short-to-medium range augment, e.g., HQ-22

DF-17 HGV-armed MRBM (~enhanced SRBM) fielded 2020, designed to strike foreign military bases/fleets in WESTPAC

Joint Power Projection

Joint Op Capabilities beyond FIC = limited

Overseas: mostly non-combat, single service

…early 2022 STC joint distant sea training with PLAN, PLAAF, PLARF joint ops command system

p. 91


By 2023.01: 42 GoA counterpiracy escort task forces, 131 vessels, >32,000 personnel

Early 2022: distant sea joint training Eastern Indian Ocean, WESTPAC: 2 destroyers, amphibious landing dock, replenishment ship

2022.01-02: PLAN/AF supplied Tonga

2022.03: first-ever PLAN supply ship resupply PLA Support Base Djibouti

2022.08: AGI to RIMPAC

2022.09: 4-day guided missile destroyer exercise by French Polynesia

2022.11 Peace Ark to Indonesia

PLAN Platforms

Fujian: EM cats

Renhai/Luyang III escorts

8+ Renhais in service

Deploy long-range ASCMs/SAMs

8 Yuchao LPD

1st of 3 Yushen LHD commissioned 2021.04

p. 92

Y-20A heavy lift

Y-20U tanker in service 2021

Y-20 variants, include AWAC?

H-20 bomber next decade? >10,000 km range conventional/nuclear stealthy

p. 93


Network Systems Department/Cyberspace Force

2022.08 YW-5 docked Hambantota (electronics, sensors, antennae track launches)

Counterspace: directed energy, satellite jammers

Operational ground-based ASAT to LEO, pursuing to GEO

p. 94


Collecting, processing, sharing real-time data, secure comms, redundant network, fixed/mobile command posts

Near-space ISR: augmentation/redundancy in crisis

p. 95


Signal/warn/deter pre-conflict

Training in jamming/anti-jamming vs. comm/radar systems, GPS sat systems

Test/validate EW weapon R&D advances

PRC can cyberattack at least localized, temporary disruptions to critical American infrastructure

Can disrupt national gas pipeline for days-weeks

“has the ability to launch cyberspace attacks—such as disruption of a natural gas pipeline for days to weeks—in the United States.”

p. 97

Intelligized Warfare

At scale and machine speed, frontier technology, unmanned systems


Kinetic kill direct ascent missiles, ground-based lasers, orbiting space robots

Expanding space surveillance

Electronic warfare

p. 99

Number of operational satellites second only to U.S.

Increasingly sophisticated satellite ops

Probably testing dual-use technology in space

p. 100

As of 2022.03 >290 ISR satellites! [Second only to U.S.]

Nearly doubled since 2018!

PLA ~1/2 world’s ISR systems

As of March 2022, China’s ISR satellite fleet contained more than 290 systems—a quantity second only to the United States, and nearly doubling China’s in-orbit systems since 2018. The PLA owns and operates about half of the world’s ISR systems, most of which could support monitoring, tracking, and targeting of U.S. and allied forces worldwide, especially throughout the Indo-Pacific region. These satellites also allow the PLA to monitor potential regional flashpoints, including the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan, Indian Ocean, and the SCS. In early 2023, the United States announced sanctions against Chinese companies Spacety and China HEAD Aerospace for providing imagery of Ukraine to Russian private military company Wagner during the conflict.

ELINT sats

Monitor/track/target U.S./allied forces worldwide, especially in Indo-Pacific

All-weather, 24-hour coverage

Observe U.S. carriers, ESGs, deployed air wings

“Recent improvements to the PRC’s space-based ISR capabilities emphasize the development, procurement, and use of increasingly capable satellites with digital camera technology as well as space-based radar for all-weather, 24-hour coverage. These improvements increase China’s

 monitoring capabilities—including observation of U.S. aircraft carriers, expeditionary strike groups, and deployed air wings.”

>60 COMSATs, 4 or more military-dedicated

Quantum Experimentation at Space Scale (QUESS) Quantum Enabled COMSAT

2016 launched first quantum COMSAT—Micius

2022.07 additional expanded quantum sat

7 or more new SATCOM LEO constellations–ChinaSatNet

p. 101

Beidou: 49 operational satellites

IOC 2018, last launch 2020

10m accuracy; 5m in Asia-Pacific

Regional Short Message Communications service: mass comms among users

Additional PLA C2 capabilities

Manned Spaceflight

2003: Shenzhou-5

2011: Tiangong-1 space station

2016: Tiangong-2

2020: first orbital test Next-Generation Manned Spaceship (replace Shenzhou)

2022: Mengtian Chinese Space Station lab module completed three-module space station

Modular SLVs

p. 102

2019 LM-11 launched from sea-based platform

Since 2021 expanding infrastructure near Haiyang to increase sea launch frequency

KZ-1, LM-6/-11 quick response SLVs: expand non-state, MCF; obfuscate end users


EW counterspace

SAR jammers, including aboard military recon platforms

Deny imagery/targeting

SATCOM jammers, including re mil HF comms

p. 103


GBLs disrupt/degrade/damage EO sat sensors/components

By mid-late 2020s, PRC may field high-powered systems threatening structure of non-optical satellites

Satellite inspection/repair/ASAT

Robotic arm satellites


2021.10 launched SJ-21 to GEO, moved derelict Beidou above GEO

Space-based kinetic weapons!

2021.07 FOBS test

Nuke Capabilities (+ pp. vi, viii, 66-69)

“current efforts dwarf previous attempts in both scale and complexity” vs. decade ago

p. 104

>500 operational nuclear warheads by 2023.05

>1,000 operational warheads by 2020, much at high readiness levels

Growing to “basically complete” in 2035

Probably use new fast breeder reactor + reprocessing to generate plutonium for nuclear weapons

JL-3 on 094, range CONUS from littoral, building more 094s

300+ new ICBM silos can field DF-31 + -41

New DF-5C multi-megaton warhead

Silo-based, liquid-fueled ICBM

p. 105

Nuclear buildup may change PRC nuclear strategy

p. 106

uncertainty re nuclear strategic redlines/constraints: NFU vs. C2/strategic effects, Taiwan loss

Comingling: distinguishing difficulty, inadvertent attacks


Combat readiness/high alert

Early Warning Counterstrike = LOW

~350 ICBMs, all can reach CONUS

p. 107

DF-5: increasing number of brigades + number of launchers per brigade

Upgrading DF-5 MIRVed ICBMs

DF-41: up to 3 warheads

New nuclear units

Increasing number of launchers in mobile ICBM units

p. 108


Probable SCS + Bohai bastions

Jin production: accelerate sea-based nuke per Xi’s direction?

096: probably MIRVed SLBMs

6 operational Jins: near-continuous at-sea deterrence

H-6N: refueling probe, ALBM with MRV (like DF-26: nuclear precision strikes)

The ALBM carried by the H-6N appears to be armed with a maneuvering reentry vehicle, indicating the ALBM, along with the DF-26 IRBM, is”

p. 109

“likely capable of conducting nuclear precision strikes against targets in the Indo-Pacific theater.”

Pursue selective qualitative parity re increasing array of U.S./Russian capabilities

Diverse: from low-yield precision to multi-megaton ICBMs

Publicly support FCMT, while actually impeding progress at Conference on Disarmament

Plutonium production with extensive Russian assistance:

Russian HEU fuel to dual CFR-600 fast breeder reactors at Xiapu

each capable of producing plutonium for dozens of nukes

“national development investment project”

Russia-to-China HEU exceeds entire amount removed worldwide under US/IAEA over last 3 decades!

p. 110

Weapons-grade reprocessing possibilities:

Jiuquan Plant 404

Dual reprocessing plants under construction in Jinta, Gansu

Refused IAEA safeguards

Expanding, diversifying tritium production capability

Recently expanded nuclear warhead R&D testing and production capacity

Lop Nur year-round preparations, possible zero-yield, noncompliance

Nuclear posture: from minimum to limited deterrent

2022: rejected US requests to discuss strategic stability/risk reduction

p. 111 

FOB tech demo: 2021.07.27 test HGV 40,000km

Seeking lower yield development vs. campaign/tactical targets

p. 112

low-yield nuke to counter vs. Taiwan invasion fleet? DF-26 payload?

LOW/Early Warning Counterstrike

C2: space/ground sensors

Likely seeks portion force, especially new silo units, on LOW

Since 2017, PLARF exercises re early warning nuke strike and LOW responses

By 2022: likely 3 early warning satellites in orbit

2019: Putin—Russia aiding PRC in developing BM EW system

2009 Russian-Chinese intergovernmental agreement

Renewed 2021-31

Bilateral missile/carrier rocket launch notification accord

p. 114

Chem-biotech infrastructure

Potential dual-use toxins

Pharma-based agents

p. 115

BW program 1950s-late 1980s (and beyond???)

p. 116

High-Altitude Balloon

Part of near space system of systems

Military-linked aerial surveillance program

“Military and commercial entities in the PRC have been researching and developing high-altitude systems—including high altitude balloons—since at least the mid-2000s. PRC-based research institutions and companies have developed and tested high-altitude balloons as early as 2015, including payloads to support imaging, data relay, and communications capabilities. While some of this research may support civilian applications such as weather monitoring, many of these high-altitude systems are very likely intended to support PLA requirements. Chinese military publications have demonstrated interest in integrating “near-space” platforms as another layer in the PLA’s broader reconnaissance “system-of-systems,” and have highlighted the use of high-altitude systems to support various tracking and targeting missions. The high-altitude balloon shot down on February 4th, 2023, was developed as part of this broader military-linked aerial surveillance program.”

Reentered American airspace

Equipped with intelligence collection capabilities

“On January 28th, 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense detected a high-altitude balloon (HAB) approaching U.S. airspace off the west coast of Alaska. According to a timeline reconstruction published in the New York Times that made use of commercial imagery, the balloon launched from Hainan Island in China on approximately January 15th. It traveled across the Pacific over the course of 13 days, before passing over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and then over the Alaskan mainland. The United States and Canada tracked the balloon as it crossed into Canadian airspace, where prevailing high-altitude winds blew it south, and it re-entered U.S. airspace over Idaho on January 31st. The Department of Defense tracked and monitored the balloon as it made its way across the United States and confirmed via handheld imagery from the pilot of a U-2 high altitude surveillance aircraft that the balloon was indeed equipped with intelligence collection capabilities.”

p. 119

ETC likely commands all CCG/MM ships conducting ops re Senkakus

“The Eastern Theater Command…likely commands all CCG and maritime militia ships while they are conducting operations related to the ongoing dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands.”

p. 121


Fishing/MM vessels, CCG escorts, PLAN overwatch

p. 122


Track/react to U.S. ships operating within Nine-Dashed Line

“The Southern Theater Command is responsible for responding to U.S. freedom of navigation operations in the SCS by regularly tracking and reacting to U.S. ships operating within the China-claimed “nine-dash line.””

Can assume command as needed over ALL CCG/CMM ships operating within 9DL

“can assume command as needed over all CCG and CMM ships conducting operations within the PRC’s claimed “nine-dash line.””

p. 124

SCS: no large-scale presence of combat aircraft yet observed at outposts

p. 125


2022 deployed PLAN/CCG/civilian ships:

Presence near Scarborough, Thitu

Respond to oil/gas exploration within 9DL

CCG/PAFMM used nets/ropes to block Philippine supply boats

the CCG and People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) used nets and ropes to block Philippine supply boats on their way to an atoll in the SCS and issued radio challenges and threats to Philippine ships during routine resupply missions.

2022.11 CCG cut tow line of Philippine Navy vessel, seized PRC rocket debris

In November 2022, a CCG vessel forcibly seized apparent PRC rocket debris that had fallen near Philippine-occupied Thitu Island from the Philippines by cutting the tow line of a Philippine Navy vessel as it was towing debris back to shore. PRC insisted the debris was returned to them after a “friendly negotiation,” despite the Philippines producing video evidence of the incident and issues diplomatic notes of protest.”

p. 126

Spratly Outposts

Added > 3,200 acres

Military infrastructure: 72 aircraft hangars, hardened shelters for missile platforms

Early 2018: advanced anti-ship/-aircraft missiles

Military jamming equipment

Mid-2021: during U.S.-Australia bilateral ops near Spratlys, used outposts to support navy/CG ops

p. 128

2020.06 Galwan clash prompted Western Theater Command large-scale mobilization/deployment along LAC

p. 130

2020.06.15: deadliest clash since 1962 War; killed 20 Indians, 4 PLA; PLA subsequently continuous force presence, infrastructure buildup

p. 136

Taiwan Strait

2022: 1,737 PLA aircraft into Taiwan ADIZ (up 79% from 972 incursions in 2021)

Diversified aircraft type: since 2022.09, UAVs ~10% of aircraft tracked in ADIZ

p. 137

2022.08; 3rd PRC Taiwan White Paper since 1993: more pointed tone, singles out DPP, criticizes U.S. “external interference”

p. 138

U.S. Taiwan policy:

Evolved with PRC capability/willingness to use military coercion against Taiwan: does not contradict it; is required

1982 Reagan clarified in internal memo: assistance “conditioned entirely on threat” – “permanent imperative”

PLA unsafe operational behavior: lasing, reckless maneuvers, close approaches, discharging objects

p. 139

Last 18 months: centralized, concerted campaign

Fall 2021-fall 2023: >180 PLA coercive/risky air intercepts vs. U.S. aircraft in region,

> past 2 years than in previous decade

[Rare case of up-to-the-month data being inserted in report at last minute.]

“Over the last 18 months, the PLA appears to have been engaged in a centralized, concerted campaign to perform these risky behaviors in order to coerce a change in lawful U.S. operational activity, and that of U.S. Allies and partners. Prior to the fall of 2021, the PLA routinely intercepted foreign air and maritime assets operating in the Indo-Pacific, but these earlier interactions rarely involved PLA employment of coercive and risky behavior. Between the fall of 2021 and fall of 2023, the United States has documented over 180 instances of PLA coercive and risky air intercepts against U.S. aircraft in the region – more in the past two years than in the previous decade. Over the same period, the PLA has conducted around 100 instances of coercive and risky operational behavior against U.S. Allies and partners, in an effort to deter both the United States and others from conducting lawful operations in the region. The PRC’s messaging regarding its forces’ operational behavior, such as claiming it is “justified to take forceful countermeasures” against activities that Beijing labels “provocative,” suggests centralized coordination, not the behavior of a few isolated PLA officers.”

2022.02: PRC naval ship lased Australian P-8A in Australia’s EEZ!

2022.06: in international SCS airspace J-16 released chaff, ingested in Australian P-8A engine

2023.02: under PLA overwatch, CCG military-grade laser temporarily blinded Filipino crewmembers!

“Some examples of the PRC’s coercive and risky behavior include the following:

  • In February 2022, a Chinese naval ship directed a laser at an Australian P-8A Poseidon aircraft operating in Australia’s exclusive economic zone, endangering the health of Australian airmen.
  • While flying a mission between April and May 2022, the Canadian CP-140 patrol aircraft were

the subject of harassment by PLAAF fighter jets, which on several occasions, attempted to

divert Canadian CP-140s. The PLAAF aircraft did this by conducting close approaches which

forced the Canadian patrol craft to alter its flight path to avoid collision.

  • During a routine May 2022 maritime surveillance flight by an Australian P-8A in the South

China Sea, a Chinese J-16 conducted a dangerous intercept maneuver which posed a safety

threat to the P-8A and its aircrew. The Australian government issued a press release on this


  • In June 2022, a Chinese J-16 cut across the nose of another Australian P-8A Poseidon that was operating in international airspace over the South China Sea. The Chinese jet released a round of chaff, which was ingested into the Australian aircraft’s engine.
  • In December 2022, a PLA J-11 fighter came within 20 feet of the nose of a U.S. military aircraft operating lawfully in international airspace over the South China Sea.
  • In February 2023, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement concerning

an incident with a Chinese Coast Guard vessel, operating under PLA overwatch, engaged in

dangerous maneuvers against a Philippine Coast Guard vessel operating within Manila’s own EEZ, including by deploying a military-grade laser that temporarily blinded Filipino crew members.

  • In May 2023, the DoD released cockpit video of a PLA J-16 “thumping” a U.S. RC-135 aircraft

by forcing the U.S. RC-135 to fly directly behind it in its wake turbulence.

  • Less than one week later, in June, the DoD released video of the PLA’s unprofessional reaction

to the USS CHUNG HOON during a U.S.-Canada bilateral Taiwan Strait Transit.”

p. 140

2022.08: simulated Joint Blockade and Firepower Strike Ops

>250 fighters into Taiwan ADIZ

13 PLA vessels around Taiwan

PLA COAs vs. Taiwan

Air/Maritime Blockade—Joint Blockade Campaign: large-scale missile strikes, possible island seizures

p. 141

PLA continually tests new options

2022.10 7 car ferries under CMM in amphibious landing drills on PRC beaches along Taiwan Strait

Amphibious invasion: significant pol/mil risk for Xi/CCP, even assuming successful landing/breakout past Taiwan beachhead defenses

p. 142


2015: “national defense requirements”

2019: CCTV ramp images

2021: state media—modified flat deck container vessel into landing platform helicopter (LPH)/ expeditionary transfer dock (ESD); midway refueling point for helos returning from air assault on Taiwan, or enable PLA helos to transport forward stock logistics ashore.

Eroding principle of distinction

Up to 64 Ro-Ros available to PLA, equipped with weapons in mobilization process

Dual-capable civilian fleet could exceed displacement tonnage of all USN amphibious assault ships!

p. 143

2022 Ro-Ro training increased: >twice the Ro-Ros to support such exercises over 2021… not demonstrated realism/tactical proficiency for wartime operations

Floating causeway improvement, but relies on semi-submersible barge—wave alleviation capabilities?

“Floating Causeway Improvement. During three events between May and July 2022, two

Chinese civilian ROROs participated in docking evolutions with a new floating causeway

system intended to allow ROROs to disembark forces onto a beach without seizing a port or

being modified to discharge amphibious vehicles at sea. The causeway observed in 2022

featured several improvements over the one used in 2021 to include having six uniform self-propelled sections extendable to an additional 200 meters. The causeway system seems to rely on a semi-submersible barge to stabilize the causeway, which may limit its utility for a cross strait invasion. [Why? Can’t they bring a barge too??] However, PLA naval writings stress the importance of floating causeways, especially those with wave attenuation capabilities, as one solution to dealing with Taiwan ports that might be inaccessible for off-loading operations in wartime.”

Large volume lift exercise

Denial and deception training: dockside building, loading Ro-Ro under tarp?

Austere ops to and from intact pier, even lacking offloading infrastructure

p. 144

10 Ro-Ros in 2022 in complex amphibious exercise with PLAN amphibs, floating causeways, submersible floating barge

PLAA bolstering Eastern Theater Command posture, reorganization

Invasion scenario contributions: extensive amphib, army aviation, air assault

p. 145

PLAN: increasing anti-air, surface, ASW

Bolstering posture surrounding Taiwan

No evidence of increase in LST/LSM numbers: civilian lift/helo workarounds; SBI could ramp up quickly?

PLAAF: 2022 ETC units operate at higher levels than previously

PLARF vs. high-value targets: new missile brigades, more missiles near Taiwan

p. 146


311 Base responsible for pol/psy warfare vs. Taiwan

Post-Pelosi visit, Taiwan suffered widespread cyberattacks

Taiwan: more new concepts, capabilities

p. 147

Majority Taiwanese citizens believe Pelosi visit and PLA response reduced Taiwan’s security

PRC official defense budget ~12 times Taiwan’s, much focused vs. Taiwan

“China’s official defense budget continues to grow to around $230 billion in 2022, about 12 times larger than Taiwan’s defense budget, with much of China’s defense budget focused on developing the capability to unify Taiwan with the PRC by force.”

p. 148

6 Assurances delivered to Taiwan in 1982

p. 149

Growing Global Presence

Effort to make “increasingly complex” environment more favorable

p. 150

PLAN – “Open Seas [?] Protection”

PLAAF – “Strategic” air force

PLA – “Non-War Military Activities” (NWMA)

PLAN—most experience operating abroad

PLAAF—most experience coordinating rapid response HA/DR abroad

PLAA—most experience conducting PKO

p. 151

2015 Yemen naval escort task force (NETF) evacuated 629 PRC citizens to Djibouti and Oman

PLAAF relief supplies to Tonga 10 days after eruption

2022 PLAN China-Africa symposium re Gulf of Guinea

UNSC P5: PRC #1 peacekeeper contributor: ~50,000 over 31 years

Pledged 8,000-strong PKO standby force to UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System

“Far Seas ops” testing ground

Intel collection

2022: 2,200 on 8 UN PKOps in Africa and Middle East

p. 152

Attaches in >110 offices worldwide

Offices have 2-10[??] officers; most 2-3

p. 153

PME: nearly ½ PRC’s 70 military academies admit foreign students… only few offer senior-level education

PLA NDU College of Defense Studies = highest level; accepts students from >100 partner nations

PLA NDU: >stipends, exposure to sci-tech (e.g., military applications of AI) than Russian

Thousands of students from >90 countries; regular contacts with >10 countries, >140 countries’ militaries

p. 154

Overseas Basing

PLA military logistics network could disrupt U.S. mil ops

Beyond Djibouti, PRC likely already considering/planning additional facilities to support naval/air/ground forces projection

2022.06: confirmed PLA access to parts of Ream

“In June 2022, a PRC official confirmed that the PLA would have access to parts of Cambodia’s

Ream Naval Base. The PRC probably also has considered other countries as locations for PLA military logistics facilities, including Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, Nigeria, Namibia, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tajikistan.”

Mixed military logistics models:

  • Preferred access to commercial infrastructure abroad
  • Exclusive PLA logistics facilities with prepositioned supplies collocated with commercial infrastructure
  • Bases with stationed forces

p. 155

BRI access to foreign ports enables prepositioning, naval deployment and sustainment: IO, Mediterranean, Atlantic

Djibouti base lacks helos, no evidence used to evacuate PRC nationals

2022.03 Type 093A supply ship docked at 450m pier for resupply—first such port call, now operational

Many sites/outreach, but only some to negotiations: infrastructure agreement, SOFA/VFA, basing agreement

Planning/negotiation by: CMC JSD/LSD, service HQ

Probably already made overtures to Namibia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands

p. 156 

As of 2022, PRC sometimes provides personnel support at public events for Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

Maintain embedded PLA training cadre for local DRC military forces.

Military training school in Tanzania.

Influence ops

SSF creation in 2015:

Cyber ops = primary means for psy manipulation

Cognitive Domain Ops: combine psych warfare with cyber ops: asymmetric vs. U.S./Third Party intervention

Offensively shape perception, polarize society

p. 157

Influence actors


Ops—overseas PRC citizens, ethnic Chinese proxies

Targets Uyghurs/dissidents

UFWD collaboration with overseas Chinese communities in Global South

Multilateral regional for a

Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

China-Arab States Cooperation

p. 158

China-Central and Eastern Europe Cooperation Framework

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States

Cognitive Domain Ops

Blends previous PRC concepts

Public opinion/psych warfare with modern Internet tech and communications platforms

Change target’s decision-making/behavior

Employs AI, big data, brain science, neuroscience tech

Could greatly increase ability to support human cognition

p. 159

Highest realm of warfare:

Seizing mind dominance in cognitive domain, subduing enemy without fighting

Ukraine lessons:

Strengthen whole-of-government approach to counter “U.S.-led containment strategy”

Global South support crucial to blunting U.S. efforts

…surprised by international response, especially European countries’ agency

Observing Russian/Ukrainian CDO: deter adversaries, shape public opinion early, polarize societies, erode fighting will, oppose charismatic leaders rallying public

Sanctions motivate defense/tech self-sufficiency, financial resilience …reliance on Western tech/capital investment persists

p. 160


2022—PRC imported 10.2 MM BPD oil (70% needs)

Emergency Petroleum Reserve (EPR) storage capacity ~600 MM BBL (~60 days imports)

PRC wants 90 days

Imported ~41% natural gas, to 50% 2035

2022 most oil/natural gas imports from Africa/Central Asia/Persian Gulf/Russia; likely continue to rely on Africa and Middle East over next decade.

transport network investment

~62% oil imports, 17% natural gas imports transit SCS/Malacca

2022: PRC imported ~600,000 BPD Russian crude oil via East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline; 1.6 million BPD designed capacity

Burma pipeline 440,000 BPD, reduces shipping from Saudi Arabia/Africa by >1/3

…little Indian Ocean power projection capability

2022: ~30% natural gas imports from Turkmenistan (pipeline through Kazakstan/Uzbekistan)

Can transport 55 BCM/year

Turkmenistan/PRC plan 85 BCM/year

Burma natural gas pipeline shipped 4 BCM gas; capacity = 12 BCM

2022—Power of Siberia gas pipeline ~15 BCM to China; by 2027 plan to reach annual capacity 38 BCM/year

p. 161

Critical minerals

PRC controls majority of global critical minerals refining and of REE production/refining: refines 68% nickel, 40% copper, 59% lithium, 73% cobalt (other countries do majority of lithium and cobalt mining)

Global REE extraction: PRC peaked 95% 2010, down to 60% by 2019

…maintains 90% REE processing/refining

Key supply chains: Lithium ion battery production, high-end weapon platforms

p. 162


Civilian research stations—Iceland/Norway

3 research icebreakers

  • Xuelong 1.2m ice, 1st official PRC vessel traverse Canadian Northwest Passage
  • Xuelong 2 1.5m ice, 1st polar research vessel to break ice forwards/backwards

2022.10 XL-2 on 12th PRC Arctic expedition deployed AUV in Arctic Ocean for first time.

2020.11 XL-2 on PRC’s 37th Arctic Expedition

3) 2023.02 third polar icebreaker (Zhongshan Daxue Jidi) finished 3,000 mile round trip winter sea trial in Bohai

Northern Sea Route cuts Euro-China shipping times 1/3, diversify away from Malacca

2022.09 China-Russia naval patrol in Bering Sea

Spring 2023 agreements: coordinated Arctic maritime law enforcement, established joint working body for NSR development


4 active stations support space program: Great Wall, Zhongshan, Kunlun, Taishan

“quickly building formidable presence”

“almost certainly has a nexus with its civilian space program and future PLA missions.”

p. 163

work closer with Russia, seek to revise Antarctic Treaty 2048 to increase resource access (mining, fishing) and support military operations

Constructing bases including dual-use technology—military purposes?

Fifth station on Inexpressible Island, Ross Sea: TT&C for scientific polar observation satellites, equipment also well-positioned to collect SIGINT over Australia/New Zealand

p. 164


Seeks entirely self-reliant defense industry

Mobilized vast resources: MCF development strategy, espionage

>20 years annual defense spending increases

Published military budget omits several major categories, actually significantly higher

2022–$229 billion + aligned with 2027 & 2035 military modernization goals

Seek to surpass the U.S.

Military AI, emerging disruptive tech

p. 165 

2022: defense budget rose 7.1% to $229 billion, ~1.3% GDP

Nearly doubled past 10 years

2013-22: official budget rose 6% annually—inflation adjusted!

PRC can support continued defense spending growth at least next 5-10 years

Actual 2022 budget at least 30-40% higher than announced

p. 166

Regional defense budget comparisons vs. PRC: Russia, India, Japan

Increasing personnel costs

Low birth rate, aging population, recruiting college STEM grads, operating hi-tech weapons, compete with private sector

Missile & Space Industry

World’s leading hypersonic arsenal

Past 20 years: dramatically advanced conventional and nuclear-armed hypersonic missile technology

“China produces a wide range of ballistic, cruise, air-to-air, and surface-to-air missiles, many

comparable in quality to those of other international top-tier producers, for domestic military use

and export. China has the world’s leading hypersonic arsenal and has dramatically advanced its development of both conventional and nuclear-armed hypersonic missile technologies during the past 20 years.”

Fielded first missile with HGV 2020

2021 tested new hypersonic missile system

2022 advanced scramjet engine development

2019.04 at 70th Anniversary celebration, PLAN revealed Type 055—can employ LACMs

2022 launched anti-CV hypersonic YJ-21

2022 first delivery SAM systems to European nation (Serbia)

p. 167

Developing BVR AAMs

Exploring dual mode guidance (active radar + infrared homing)

Improve target selection, reduce countermeasures against

Greatly increasing ISR, navigation, COMSAT constellations

2022 completed Tiangong space station

Past 4 years: private space companies successfully launched orbital satellites

2020 China launched first satellite for space-based IoT project: container monitoring, maritime comms

2021 designated satellite internet national infrastructure project

SBI #1 by tonnage

Nearly self-sufficient

Unmanned underwater systems, publicly unveil long-range 2019

2022: first domestically designed/manufactured CV

EM cats

Deploy up to 70 aircraft: J-15 fighters, Z-9C ASW helos


Improving production capability in nearly every PLA ground system category

p. 168

AVIC—future H-20 flying wing stealth bomber

COMAC: export ARJ21 to Indonesia, delivered C919 to China Eastern

…cooperation with Russia on widebody CR929 may be stalled by Western sanctions vs. Russia

Decades-long efforts to improve domestic aircraft engine production now bearing fruit

J-10/-20 getting WS-10, although some Russian AL-31Fs may remain in use

WS-20, first domestically produced hi-bypass turbofan, into Y-20, probably begin replacing previous imports Russian engines

UAV development increasing tests of experimental, Y-5U transport

2023 sold 9 armed drones to DRC

Emerging tech

Innovation superpower

2006 & 2015 tech plans

14th FYP: prioritize advancement of next-gen AI, quantum info, brain science/biotech, semiconductors, deep space/deep sea/polar

Clear understanding of remaining S&T deficiencies

Leverages industrialized policy and [world’s largest] tech transfer apparatus to close gap

High R&D funding, subsidies

p. 169

AI: top priority development area–central to PRC conception of future warfare: intelligized warfare

Goal: overtake West in AI R&D by 2025, become world AI leader by 2030

World leader in key AI apps: facial recognition, natural language processing

PRC companies marketing domestically-designed AI chips

Explore new materials/design concepts for next-generation semiconductors

…reliant on foreign AI hardware production capabilities: advanced semiconductor fabs, electronic design automation software

2021 China Brain Plan

2017 $1 billion+ National Quantum Lab will be world’s largest quantum research facility

Foreign acquisition

Domestic production capability limits, especially helos and aircraft engines

Over next decade, aerospace industry more self-reliant, maintain import relationships to quickly fill niche inventory gaps

Helos: 2019 four contracts with Russia total $1.7billion: 100 Mi-171 helos

2021 sought at least 36 Russian Ka-52K shipborne heavy attack helos to operate from 075 LHA while developing domestic alternative

Aircraft engines—long rely on Russia/Ukraine-built engines for domestic fixed/rotary wing aircraft

p. 170

L-15 trainer: WS-15 replace Ukr AI-222 engines

Ukraine war probably impede PRC ability to acquire mil equipment from Ukr or Rus


Sensitive, dual use, military grade equipment

2022: MSS intel officer 20 years prison for trying to steal tech re US company’s exclusive composite aircraft engine fan module and US military info

Full coordination with MSS and China’s aviation entities

2022.09 PRC national convicted of acting as PRC agent: as part of effort to access advanced aerospace/satellite tech, MSS tasked with providing bio info on individuals for possible recruitment, including PRC nationals working on engineering/science in US, some at U.S. defense contractors

p. 171 

PRC cyberspace activities: disruptive, destructive

“China’s activities in cyberspace constitute a fundamentally different, more complex, and more urgent challenge to the United States national security today than they did a decade ago.”

Arms Exports

World’s fifth-largest arms supplier

Nearly every category of conventional military equipment: UAVs, MANPADS, subs, naval surface vessels, SAM systems, fighter aircraft

Fixed wing aircraft

3 combat aircraft:

FC-31 5th generation multirole—not sold

JF-17 light combat aircraft: coproduced with Pakistan; sold to Burma, Iraq, Nigeria

J-10 multirole aircraft—sold only to Pakistan

Precision-strike weapons

BM systems: M20, BP-12, JARM (to Qatar)

long-range guided rocket systems: SY-400 to Burma

Air-Defense Systems

2022.04 first SAM to European nation (Serbia)

p. 172

FK-3 (HQ-22 export variant)

Naval combatants

Pakistan & Thailand ordered Yuans; not yet delivered [Thai suspended?]

Mings to: Bangladesh (2—2016), Burma (1—2021)

Frigates (2017-18) to: Bangladesh (2), Pakistan (4)

2019.09 first-ever sale LPD (to Thailand)

p. 173


2022—PLA denied/cancelled/ignored recurring bilats, comms requests


“In 2022, the PLA largely denied, cancelled, and ignored recurring bilateral engagements and DoD requests for communication.

The PLA’s refusal to engage with DoD has largely continued in 2023.”

p. 174

Hi-level contacts and exchanges: refused, cancelled, ignored majority of senior-level contacts

In 2022, the PLA declined, cancelled, or ignored the majority of senior-level contacts. In July, the PLA cancelled a planned DTL call about operational issues between INDOPACOM Commander and the PLA Southern Theater Command (STC) commander. In August, the PLA refused a CJCS DTL call request to the Chairman of the JSD. In August, the PLA refused a Secretary of Defense DTL call request to the PRC Minister of National Defense. In December, the PLA again refused a CJCS DTL call request to the Chairman of the JSD.”

p. 175

Recurring exchanges

Executed: none!

Refused, cancelled, ignored

2022[?].08: PRC cancelled all MMCA talks, in violation of MOU establishing it.

“In August, the PRC cancelled the Defense Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT), an annual Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) level policy dialogue. In August, the PRC also cancelled all Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) talks, an operational safety dialogue between U.S. INDOPACOM and PLA naval and air forces, in violation of the U.S-PRC Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing the MMCA. Until 2020, the U.S. and PRC have met regularly since 1998 for MMCA dialogue to strengthen military maritime safety, improve operational safety in the air and sea, and reduce risk between the two militaries. The PLA also declined to hold a Crisis Communications Working Group (CCWG) meeting, a working-level policy dialogue established in 2020 to advance crisis prevention and management mechanisms between DoD and the PLA.”

p. 176

Defense contacts and exchanges

“The PRC’s refusal to engage in military-to-military communication only sharpened in 2023.”

Refused, cancelled, ignored

BUT 2023.04: PLA requested US help evacuating PRC diplomats from Khartoum amid fighting; DoD provided evacuation routes to Port Sudan for PRC and other countries requesting.

“Of note, in April 2023, the PLA requested U.S. assistance in evacuation of PRC diplomats from Khartoum, Sudan amidst ongoing fighting. In response, DoD provided evacuation routes from Khartoum to the Port of Sudan to the PRC and multiple other countries that had requested U.S. assistance.

p. 177


1) Leadership/Command: 5 Incapables, 2 Inabilities

2) Lack combat experience: peace disease

3) training realism

4) PME-NDU first course to receive join post qualifications

5) Fight/win modern wars “2 big gaps”

p. 178

5 major slogans, explained

PRC support Russia vs. Ukraine

p. 179

PRC cos, including SOEs, have sold dual-use and minor military equipment to Russian military end users

2023 sanctions vs. PRC companies for satellites imagery to Wagner

Increasingly frequent combined military exercises/maneuvers

scripted, parallel

both incapable of operational/tactical interoperability

p. 180

2022: 2 combined bomber patrols

Second-ever combined naval patrols, first to Aleutians

Capstone Vostok-22 exercise

Xi 20th PC, 2022: “build a strong strategic deterrent system”

2022 doctrinal writings: “strategic deterrence system with Chinese characteristics”

p. 181

14th Five Year Plan: create high-level deterrence system: traditional nuclear + conventional forces in emerging fields/techs

“strong strategic deterrent force system” vs. US re Taiwan

“trump card” re unification

Survivable second strike crucial

Asymmetric countermeasures: space, LRPS, cyberspace, deny foreign militaries use of overhead C4ISR

p. 182


Ratio volunteer vs. non-volunteer conscripts unknown: varies by year, place; local conditions, individual motivations

2 year conscripts: 1/3 active duty

College students/grads incentivized, especially from STEM

Civilian personnel with specific skillsets

2018: first recruiting exam

p. 183

Conscription expanded to twice/year: spring/autumn, to fit academic year, spread turnover

New law 2023.05: increase incentives for “second enlistment”

Enhance NCOs, PLA “backbone”

p. 184

Security Environment

20th Party Congress Work Report

Drastic “changes unseen in a century”

“urgently prepare for danger”

“increasingly severe and complex international environment”


PRC caught off guard by full scope/scale

Echoed Russian messaging

Opportunity for future support

Accordingly: PRC “neutral narrative” to deflect criticism