China’s modernisation of its armed forces is proceeding faster than many analysts expected.
Now, according to experts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies - the IISS - in London, it is China and no longer Russia, that increasingly provides the benchmark against which Washington judges the capability requirements for its own armed forces.
This is especially true in terms of air and naval forces - the focus of China’s modernisation effort. Events in Europe mean that for the US Army, it is still largely Russian capabilities that provide the benchmark threat.
This trend has been chronicled in the Military Balance, the annual assessment of global military capabilities and defence spending, published by the IISS since 1959.
Of course the transformation of the Chinese military has been under way for some time. But now a significant way-point has been reached - or is very close - that will make it the “peer competitor” for Washington.