Indo-Pacific region as US’s priority theater

In its annual report “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC) 2020” that was submitted to the US Congress, the US Department of Defense said China has likely considered locations for PLA military logistics facilities in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, and Tajikistan.

This year’s report highlights the links between China’s national strategy and developments within China’s armed forces. The report accounts for the PRC’s national strategy and the drivers of China’s security behavior and military strategy, covers key developments in China’s military modernization and reform, and provides new insights into China’s strategic ambitions in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

The report also discusses China’s views of strategic competition, the broader purposes of its Military-Civil Fusion Development Strategy, and its ambitions for the PLA as a political entity of the party.

The National Defense Strategy identifies the Indo-Pacific region as the department’s priority theater.

In the 200 page report by the US Secretary of Defense, it states that in support of its national strategy, the PRC pursues a range of goals through ONE BELT, ONE ROAD (OBOR) initiative to include strengthening its territorial integrity, increasing its energy security, and expanding its international influence. The PRC attempts to use the economic influence it accrues through OBOR to encourage participating countries to support Beijing’s priorities and objectives on a range of other matters. The PRC applies military, intelligence, diplomatic, and economic tools to counter perceived threats to OBOR’s long-term viability.

the PRC uses commercial infrastructure to support all of its military operations abroad, including the PLA’s presence in other countries’ territories, including its base in Djibouti. Some of the PRC’s OBOR projects could create potential military advantages, such as PLA access to selected foreign ports to pre-position the necessary logistics support to sustain naval deployments in waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean to protect its growing interests.

The PRC conducts influence operations to achieve outcomes favorable to its strategic objectives by targeting cultural institutions, media organizations, business, academic, and policy communities in the United States, other countries, and international institutions. The PRC’s foreign influence activities also focus on establishing and maintaining influence with power brokers within foreign governments to promote policies that Beijing views will facilitate its national rejuvenation, despite the PRC’s public position that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. China’s diplomatic outreach stresses building personal rapport with influential people, providing assistance, and emphasizing “win-win cooperation” through trade and diplomacy.

The complete report can be found here.

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