The senior U.S. defense intelligence official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, did not predict that China's military, known as the People's Liberation Army (PLA), would take such a step but said such a possibility was the top worry as China expands and modernizes its military capabilities. "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".
"As Xi Jinping and the CCP leadership become more confident in the PLA's gathering ability to invade Taiwan, we can expect their threats to become more strident", Fisher said. "Finally, as new threats emerge and as other militaries adjust their acquisition, strategies, and structure, China knows the PLA must be prepared to fight in new realms and adapt to the modern, high-tech battlefield".
The official also cautioned that China's military still faced gaps in its capabilities. China continues to place economic, military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan's government as it demands it recognise itself as a territory belonging to China and not an independent state. It might seek such relationships elsewhere in the coming years, the DIA report states.
"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", the report concluded.
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.
"Despite Trump tweeting, "... the United States Treasury has taken in MANY billions of dollars from the Tariffs we are charging China and other countries that have not treated us fairly", the head of the conservative and business-friendly U.S. Chamber of Commerce begged to differ.
Those operations are seen as provocative by China.
China has also outpaced competitors in its ballistic missiles systems, creating more precise systems to carry conventional or nuclear weapons than others including the United States and Russian Federation, largely because those nations were bound by treaty obligations that China was not, according to the DIA assessment.
Should Taiwan decide to declare independence or a foreign country intervenes, China will not hesitate to use force, Zuocheng told Richardson during their meeting, according to the report.
Chinese advancements in some technology will soon be among the world's most leading-edge. "The challenge, of course, is for measuring against a globally active US 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".