Chinese President Xi Jinping spent his birthday last month talking to Vladimir Putin in a phone call, which the Kremlin said focused on his nation’s military ties with Russia. Moscow implied the Chinese leader backed his Russian counterpart’s war in Ukraine, saying Xi acknowledged the “legitimacy” of Russia’s actions to safeguard its “national interests”. Beijing’s version of the call was different, claiming instead that Xi stressed the need for peace as he spoke to his fellow authoritarian leader.
Whatever the two presidents discussed, analysts remain concerned that Xi – who has vowed a “no limits” friendship with Putin – will be emboldened by his ally’s actions in Ukraine, and by the West’s lack of military intervention in the former Soviet nation, which Russia invaded on February 24.
Since the conflict began, fears have mounted that the Chinese President will launch a similar unprovoked military assault against Taiwan, which Beijing views as a breakaway province that will be reunited with the Chinese mainland, by force if need be.
China has kept the island nation firmly in its sights in 2022, with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) carrying out 555 raids in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in the first half of this year, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.
Amid China’s aggressive war games in its neighbour’s skies, a US expert has explained how the communist superpower’s expanding military is built on secrets “stolen” from the West, but that the PLA still remains weak.
Dr John Callahan is a former diplomat and State Department spokesperson, who now works as a military adviser and a dean at New England College in the US.
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Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “The Chinese have stolen a lot of technology from the US and the West over the last 20 years.
“Missile technology – anything to do with their missile program was espionage from the US.”
He added: “Their fifth-generation aircraft such as they are, the technology is virtually all stolen.
“And then their helmets look like ours. Their tactical truck looks like a Humvee.
“There is no ingenuity or inventiveness whatsoever. And that can be OK when you are fighting a war that doesn’t require flexibility.
He has also attempted to bolster defences on existing pieces of land such as the disputed Spratly Islands off the Philippines, where China has deployed long-range anti-ship and anti-air missiles.
The Pentagon warned that China’s acquisition of foreign military secrets can potentially “degrade core US operational and technological advantages” in the South China Sea.
Although China may be expanding its military, including with stolen foreign technologies, Dr Callahan claimed that Xi’s forces lack the battlefield expertise to be successful in a major conflict.
He said: “You go back to the Korean War, and all they knew how to do was launch human wave attacks.
“And I’m sure that their doctrine has improved since then.
“But the problem is that until you use the doctrine it is very ephemeral.
“In other words, they may be awesome, but they won’t be awesome at the outset of a conflict.
“Because they’re going to have to learn how to actually implement all the ideas that they have come up with or stolen from the US.”