The US, of course, is alarmed at the prospect of losing its military and economic supremacy over China in the ongoing shadow-boxing in the Indo-Pacific, where Beijing is also assiduously using its multi-billion-dollar One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and Digital Silk Road initiatives to make deep strategic inroads and shape interests. "Additionally, the Chinese People's Liberation Army and the Russian Ministry of Defense are reportedly capable of employing their respective civil and commercial remote sensing satellites to supplement military-dedicated capabilities".
"The biggest concern is that ... they are getting to a point where the PLA leadership may actually tell Xi Jinping that they are confident in their capabilities", the official said, referring to China's president.
The DIA report referenced a Chinese white paper from 2015, titled "China Military Strategy" (pdf), where the Chinese regime explained that while world war is unlikely, it intends to prepare for the possibility of local war. "By doing so, China has been able to focus on expediting its military modernization at a small fraction of the original cost", it said. "I think that they are fairly comfortable with the progress they've made in building out this infrastructure down there, and then working on negotiations with the other claimant states over a longer term", the senior defense official said.
"China continues to develop a variety of counterspace capabilities created to limit or prevent an adversary's use of space-based assets during crisis or conflict", the DIA report states.
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"As it continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation's leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to U.S. interests".
Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan a wayward province of China and the former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and operates as a semi-autonomous territory.
American officials have routinely scolded China's militarization of the Spratly and Parcel islands, which China claims outright, and tensions have grown in recent years as the United States regularly sails warships through the region on freedom of navigation operations.
The country is said to be employing "more sophisticated satellite operations" and is "probably testing on-orbit dual-use technologies" that could be applied to counterspace missions.
Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, a senior defense official admitted that he was anxious about China now having the confidence to pull off major military moves - such as invading Taiwan. This includes a wide range of missiles and deployment systems, including a vehicle that launches ballistic missiles specifically against aircraft carriers. "The challenge, of course, is for measuring against a globally active USA military that has many different missions and many different tasks, so I think there's a very long way for the PLA to reach that level".