Well, finally the Pentagon lived up to its obligation and did report to Congress on the state of China's military. DoD quickly drew criticism for its handling of the report; it came too late to inform the latest round of budget negotiations and some suspect that this motivated the Pentagon to delay publication in the first place. Once published it drew additional criticism for its "on the one hand, on the other"-attitude that is indeed prevalent through the entire report.
When I finished reading it, I realised that I couldn't recall how many times President Obama is being quoted saying "But the notion that we must be adversaries is not pre-destined." So, I won't recall what the report is saying since the overall impression really is that it is, somewhat reluctantly, the United States that is the driving force for more transparency and closer military cooperation between the two powers.
The report is indeed more interesting for what is being omitted. So here is my líst of issues that should have been addressed but, somehow, are not:
1. In what way does the current development and the envisaged build-up of Chinese military forces increase insecurity of crucial U.S. allies, most importantly Japan, South Korea and the Philippines?
2. In which way is the current development altering the balance of power in the region? The report does address the situation in the Taiwan-Strait, it fails to address the overall picture.
3. In case of military conflict: In what way could the Chinese military threaten U.S. military installations, most importantly Guam, which is located precisely on the perimeter of the second island chain?
4. As in many other formally communist states it is the Communist Party and not the state that is in charge of the military. The same holds true in the People's Republic. In what way does that outdated civil-military relationship influence or hamper military effectiveness?
5. Again as in many other communist states the military is relying heavily on infantry forces. That is changing, the Navy is apparently at the forefront of current modernisation-efforts. But what is the state of the ground forces? Except mentioning the introduction of new tanks and weapons the report fails to address the Chinese army in any meaningful way.