Although the breadth of American media attention has been focused on the hybrid warfare threat posed by Russia, it is widely believed that Vladimir Putin’s nation wouldn’t have the economic strength required to sustain an actual war with a nation like the United States. In fact, despite possessing a few high profile “doomsday” style weapons, the threat Russia poses to American diplomatic and military dominance pales in comparison to the nation’s only real near-peer level threat: China.

In an annual report provided to Congress by the Defense Department, the Pentagon outlined China’s hypocritical approach to naval activities in recent years, as well as evidence to suggest that China is already training for long-range bombing runs against America’s Pacific assets.

“Over the last three years, the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets,” the document says in no uncertain terms. The report goes on to list specific instances in which Chinese bombers on training runs have diverted into new areas of the Pacific as compared to previous training operations. These new areas brought Chinese bombers closer than ever to American installations in the Pacific and serve as a powerful indicator that China is preparing for the potential need to bomb American assets in Japan and even as far away as Guam.

People’s Liberation Army Air Force Xian HY-6 bomber | Wikimedia Commons

Per the Pentagon’s analysis, the most likely short-term reason America could find itself in conflict with China is if China chooses to use force in order to reassert control over Taiwan.