WASHINGTON - A recent Pentagon report is shedding light on a military build-up in the country considered to be the greatest national security threat to the United States.
China is conducting the largest military modernization effort in the country's history. It's a move that the U.S. Department of Defense believes is not only in the preparation for taking Taiwan but also for displacing the U.S. as the world's leading superpower.
"The United States is the world's leading democratic power and China is the world's leading authoritarian power...we're in a competition, whether we like it or not, between these two worldviews, and if we don't realize that we're in a competition, we're going to lose that competition and our core national security economic interests will be at stake," said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The newly released DOD report on China's military strength includes some significant findings. Among them: In 2021, Beijing tested 135 ballistic missiles, more than the rest of the world combined. Their nuclear stockpile sits at around 400 warheads but is expected to grow to about 1,500 by 2035.
The PRC is stealing technology from the United States and sending it directly to its military, they have strategic partnerships with Iran and Russia, and they're looking to build new military bases around the world.
"Beijing is sprinting to build the capability to carry out their words. They're matching their actions with words. That's to me the bottom line," Bowman told CBN News.
He says China is clearly preparing to take Taiwan, even if it means direct military conflict with the U.S. Bowman believes how we respond, could determine whether or not China displaces America in the power competition.
"If you don't like what you're seeing in Xinjiang, with what I would call crimes against humanity and some have called genocide. If you don't like what you've seen in Hong Kong with the extinguishment of freedom there if you don't like what you see with the bullying in the South China Sea, and if you don't like the saber-rattling in the Taiwan Strait, if America stands down and becomes insular and stares at our belly button and thinks we can get away with ignoring the world, we're gonna see a heck of a lot more of that globally," Bowman warned.
Some argue that Beijing's military build-up is simply to match the economic power they've become. But Bowman says without transparent strategic dialogue with the U.S., the Pentagon is right to sound the alarm.
"When we don't have that transparency, we don't know exactly what's going on, it forces the Pentagon to assume the worst. And when both sides are assuming the worst about the other, it leads to dangerous miscalculation," said Bowman.
Bowman believes the U.S. has what it takes to deter Chinese aggression, but warns that there needs to be more of a sense of urgency coming from Washington. He says that would involve immediate funding to ramp up our own military modernization efforts, and to start acquiring the weapons needed to defend democracy worldwide.