Transcript

Chad Sbragia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Press Briefing on the 2020 China Military Power Report

Aug. 31, 2020
Chad Sbragia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense

STAFF: Okay, good morning. Thank you, everyone, for joining us this morning for an interview with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Policy Chad Sbragia, to discuss the department's annual report, Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China.

In a moment, I will turn it over to DASD Sbragia to make a few minutes of opening remarks. After that, we'll go around the table here, give each of you an opportunity to ask a question. If time allows after we get through each of you, we'll open it up for more questions. We have about 30 minutes or so in total this morning.

This interview is on the record, attributable to DASD Sbragia. As a reminder, this interview is also embargoed until the release of the report tomorrow, which is expected at noon.

With that, I will turn it over to DASD Sbragia. Thank you.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHAD SBRAGIA: Good morning, all, really appreciate you investing some time to join this morning. I'll open with a brief overview of the key changes and the themes in this year's report. I look forward to taking questions, obviously, as best we can.

DOD has provided the China Military Power report to Congress annually for about two decades now, and as -- which has long served as a touchstone for authoritative information for Congress and the report's other audiences. The report has taken on particular importance as the DOD continues to address the strategic challenge posed by China and continue to implement the National Defense Strategy.

What I'd like to highlight as the most significant changes in this year's report, is the analysis of China's strategy as articulated and understood by the Communist Party of China. It explains the logic of China's strategy and offers insights into the motivations behind Beijing's actions, policies and long-term goals as they relate to developments in the China -- in China's security policy in the military.

China's strategy, as the report describes, seeks to achieve great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation by 2049. This strategy, led by the party, entails a determined pursuit of political and social modernity and includes efforts to expand China's national power, perfect its governance systems, and revise the international order.

The Communist Party of China leaders characterize their strategy to achieve modernity as a national endeavor that will transform China and, in turn, the world.

The Communist Party of China's leaders claim that their strategy requires China to, quote, "lead the reform of global governance system," unquote, as they view the current system as antithetical to their socialist system and an intolerable constraint on their strategic ends.

The CCP's leaders seek -- see U.S. policy towards China as a critical factor affecting China's national strategy, and increasingly views the United States as more willing to confront Beijing on matters where the U.S. and PRC interests are inimical.

The CCP leaders view the United States' security alliances and partnerships -- especially those in the Indo-Pacific region -- as destabilizing and irreconcilable with China's interests.

China's strategy entails strengthening and adapting its armed forces to the long-term trends in global military affairs. This includes advancing a comprehensive military modernization program that aims to basically complete -- as they say -- basically complete military modernization by 2035, and transform the PLA into what they call a world-class military by 2049.

The CCP has not defined exactly what it means by its ambition to have a world-class military. Within the context of China's national strategy, however, it is likely that China will aim to develop a military by mid-century that is equal to, and in many cases superior to, the United States' military or that of any other great power that the Chinese view as a threat.

In terms of the PRC's global military activities, the CCP's leaders believe that China's global activities including the PLA's growing global presence are necessary to create favorable -- a favorable international environment for China's national rejuvenation. China is seeking to establish a more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure beyond its current base in Djibouti. China's very likely already considering and planning for additional overseas bases to support naval, air, and ground force projection.

The global PLA military logistics network could interfere with U.S. military operations and those of our allies, and provide flexibility to support offensive operations against the United States.

This report allows United States policy leaders to have a deeper understanding of the strategic objectives of the People's Republic of China and the Communist Party of China, and examines how the People's Liberation Army serves as a tool of the party. This report serves as an essential tool for U.S. leadership as the department implements the National Defense Strategy in this era of great power competition.

I appreciate your time today and I'm ready to take your questions.

STAFF: Okay, all right. We'll go ahead and start with Bob in the room.

Go ahead, Bob.

Q: Thank you.

I have a question on -- the report mentions with regard to China's nuclear force that you foresee them doubling the size of the warhead stockpile, which you say is currently in the low 200s, doubling over the next 10 years.

I'm wondering -- are you talking about sort of their total warheads for all nuclear forces. What is that based on and -- and is this -- I think I believe I've heard this mentioned previously by officials, but -- or is this the first time you've stated this publicly?

MR. SBRAGIA: This is the first time that we've actually stated a specific number --

(CROSSTALK)

Q: -- future number?

(CROSSTALK)

MR. SBRAGIA: Yeah, future number, yes. So in the report, we do estimate the current state is in the low 200s. We're certainly concerned about the numbers. Not just about the numbers however, and I think that's to your point a little bit, is not only about the numbers, but also just the trajectory of China's nuclear developments writ large.

We do believe that over the next decade, that China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in its history, China's history.

An ability to double the stockpile not only demonstrates a move away from their historical minimum deterrence posture, but places them in a position where they can readily grow their force beyond this number, which is part of the point.

Combined with a near-complete lack of transparency regarding their strategic intent and the perceived need for a much larger, more diverse nuclear force, these developments pose a significant concern for the United States and why we certainly included that in this year's report.

Q: So just a quick follow-up then. You mentioned that -- the concern by the U.S. about this. I mean, going to 400 is still, compared to the U.S., one could argue a relatively lower number. But you also say that this puts them in position to expand further. Do you have any reason to believe they will or why do you believe they would?

MR. SBRAGIA: Well, part of the doubling effort is certainly going to entail emphasizing new processes, tools, and capacities, to get to that number, so this is -- you know, this is not just the end product itself, it's about the entire infrastructure to do so. And then ultimately where they go, especially in the context of their 2049 aspirations, is an important thing to monitor and we will.

Q: Thank you.

STAFF: Okay, thanks, Bob.

Let's go to Tony Capaccio on the line.

Tony?

Q: Hi, sir. I've been reading these reports like since the first one came out, and this report had a lot of "China continues to build," or "China continues to improve." Can you walk us through what actually -- what breakthroughs they actually -- happened last year in -- that -- as opposed to just continued to?

MR. SBRAGIA: Yeah, this is -- this is an important aspect of -- as you study and -- and watch the PLA is -- is that it – you know there's two characteristics. This is the same characteristic of any aspect of China that you watch, is as -- as commentators often observe, which is there's both great change and great continuity in it -- all things that the Chinese pursue, and in this case is -- there's great continuity in terms of where the Chinese aspire to be at, their longstanding national rejuvenation goal by mid-century is -- is a -- is a prime driver for them.

What you have seen most -- within the report, most decidedly, is the ongoing reforms to the PLA. So in the PLA's own voice, the most substantive changes that they've made is how they're closing out this current round of reforms to the PLA itself.

The PLA, as we talk to them and as they reported in their 2019 Defense White Paper, is the most substantive aspect of what they've done is -- continues to be not just the materiel advancements that they make in terms of capability but the conceptual frameworks that they're changing, the reorganization of the PLA writ large, particularly the tightening up in their ability to manage and drive advanced concepts and capabilities downstream.

So for us long-term, it's -- it's about their -- or in terms of last year specifically, it's about just the nature and -- and content of the reforms that they're undertaking.

Q: Okay. Quickly, Taiwan question. For the second year in a row, you've said that Taiwan's defensive capabilities have eroded or been negated by many of China's modernization efforts. What's the implication to -- of -- of that conclusion to the Taiwan-China military balance?

MR. SBRAGIA: No, certainly there's -- the PLA activities are destabilizing and significantly increase the risk of miscalculation. The entire aspect of -- of why the United States is attentive to this, both codified through Congress and then obviously within our own National Defense Strategy, is that our policy has been consistent since 1979 under the Taiwan Relations Act and in 1982, President Reagan established a policy of conditioning arms sales to Taiwan based entirely on the threat posed by the PRC.

As we watch what the PLA is doing, it is continuing to develop at an incredible rate and so that balance across the straits is -- is certainly intensifying. It's not lessening, it's not staying static. So in this case, it's -- it's an aspect of watching the Chinese develop both advanced capabilities and concepts but also just the sheer quantity of what the PLA is doing. That is always going to disadvantage Taiwan as -- if they stay static.

Q: Okay, thank you.

STAFF: Again, Tony, thank you very much. Let's go to Idrees from Reuters, thanks.

Q: Yeah, thanks for that. I had two quick questions. One was specifically about doubling the nuclear stockpile. Is that solely based on an assertion you make lower down with, say, if China has enough fissile -- fissible material to at least double its warhead stockpile or is it based on more than just how much fissible material they actually have available?

And -- and -- and secondly, the one thing that -- that the report doesn't address is what would happen with this nuclear stockpile or warhead numbers if China were to, in some way, shape or form, join New START or some sort of agreement with the United States and Russia. Is that something you've looked at or believe may alter the numbers at all?

MR. SBRAGIA: Yeah, I think the -- you know, the aspect of looking at their numbers and they're doubling is -- as we mentioned -- and -- and I think it is touched upon in the report a -- a bit is just about what this entails in terms of having to change their infrastructure to -- to get to these -- these numbers. Some of that can be done with what they have capacity currently on hand and some of that will require certainly new aspects of -- of development to -- to obtain those numbers.

Now how that bears on this -- on, as you noted, the trilateral -- or the proposed trilateral nuclear arms control arrangements. The United States believes it is time for China to participate in nuclear arms control. While China has praised agreements such as the New START and INF, it has also sought to avoid participating in the arms control itself.

At some point, it -- we -- we think it is going to be prudent for us to do so, as the right thing for any nation that -- with these kind of capacities to achieve. China needs to halt the upward and destabilizing trajectory of its nuclear buildup and work closely to -- to reduce nuclear risks.

While China has not chosen to participate in the recent -- recent proposed trilateral arms control discussions, its refusal to engage will not belabor U.S. efforts to begin shaping a new era of arms control with Russia. China's interests will not be severed by failing to come to the table, however -- or not be served, I'm sorry, by failing to come to the table.

The United States is willing to make progress with Russia while waiting on China to recognize its interests in behaving like a great power and a responsible nuclear weapons state by pursuing negotiations in good faith.

China needs to hear this message. We have told that to them publicly and privately and certainly consistently, not just from us but from others. We continue to call upon the PRC to uphold its responsibilities as a world power. As the PRC works towards their goal of great power status by 2049, the department continues to encourage our allies and partners to call on the PRC to live up to its responsibilities that go with its status. We think it's crucial and we will continue to message the PRC about the importance of these negotiations and PRC's place in the world.

Q: Sure. I mean, I agree that's all in -- in the report but from your perspective, if China were to be a part of any trilateral agreement, would that doubling of warheads that you've talked about be different, would it be lower? How much lower?

MR. SBRAGIA: Well, of course those are things that you would have to -- that would come out on the table during negotiations. I think the -- the -- the key starting point is that you have to begin negotiations before you understand where you might aim at, at the end point.

Q: And on the fissible material, would it -- that be only thing you're basing the doubling on or -- or not?

MR. SBRAGIA: No, I think it's a -- a broader assessment about what China's stated intentions are, which is -- what their own capacities are. There's numerous factors, I think they go into this assessment.

STAFF: Okay, thanks, Idrees. Let's go back to the room here with Nick from PBS.

Q: Chad, thanks very much for doing this. I want to go back to Taiwan and then ask about missiles. You said just now the balance across the strait is -- is intensifying, so therefore, obviously within the framework of the laws that you're working, do you believe that Taiwan needs more than -- than it has now and do you believe the U.S. should try and get Taiwan more?

And then recent missile launch obviously got a lot of attention. You know, U.S. officials have talked about how there's a lot of communication right now, China's trying not to surprise the U.S., U.S. trying not to surprise China. Was the missile launch a surprise?

MR. SBRAGIA: Which missile launch specifically?

Q: I'm sorry, the one -- would it be -- late -- late last week, in response to the U-2 --

(CROSSTALK)

MR. SBRAGIA: -- South China Sea?

Q: Yeah.

MR. SBRAGIA: Yeah. Yeah, the -- let me provide some clarity about that, then I'll come back to the Taiwan question specifically. The -- the missile launch into the South China Sea, as -- as we released a statement on, is -- let me broaden it out a little bit and provide a little bit greater context.

The People's Liberation Army has launched a series of live-fire drills and maneuvers starting last week actually, a little bit before that, as part of its overall annual national-level exercise plan.

The ongoing PLA activities were just merely the latest in a string of destabilizing PLA actions intended to intimidate the region, but these included the workups to culminate in this -- the ongoing national-level drills.

These drills are overseen by the Central Military Commission and this series of exercises is composed of air, ground, and maritime activity within all five of the PLA's theater commands and -- to include activities in the East China Sea, South China Sea, Yellow Sea, and the Bohai Gulf.

Symbolic of the People's Republic of China's aim to coerce its neighbors and prepare for high-end combat, the PLA live-fire drills earlier this week, that we noted and that you cite, included the provocative firing of ballistic missiles under simulated wartime conditions into the South China Sea, but it also included things like offensive naval maneuvers in the East China Sea, that's the area where the U-2 was at.

The Department of Defense continues to closely monitor this military exercise as a demonstration of our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and reassure our allies and partners that's what the role, I think, of the United States is and certainly of what the DOD is.

And this is also important in the context of the first part of the question that you raised, which is, the United States is a resident of the Indo-Pacific. We have a role and responsibility there, our allies, our partners, I think close relationships, it's always going to be in the -- in our interest to ensure that we safeguard those and maintain the capacity to fly, sail, and operate anywhere that international law allows, and we'll continue to do so.

So in terms of the cross-straits issues, is we follow the obligations as we've outlined very clearly, and we -- we continue to pursue those wholeheartedly with the authorities in Taiwan.

Q: And so that particular missile launch, was that a surprise?

MR. SBRAGIA: No, it wasn't a surprise. Certainly in the broader sense, it's very consistent with what we've seen the trajectory of the Chinese doing, which is continuing to improve its joint command and control from the national level all the way down to what they consider now joint theaters, the five joint theaters that they have.

This is a very broad-based exercise, we monitor all this, obviously, very, very closely. Nothing's necessarily a surprise to us. What's a surprise is the strategic choice that the Chinese have made, which is to continue to do these in a manner which is obviously provocative. The region itself feels that these are coercive acts that the Chinese undertake that's probably unnecessary to do so in this manner, and that's why we watch them very closely.

STAFF: Okay, thanks, Nick.

Let's go back to the phone. Bill Gertz at Washington Times?

Q: Yeah, thanks for doing this. My question is about the -- the DF-26 IRBM and anti-ship ballistic missile. The report says that they now have 200 of these missiles, which, you know, only three years ago, the Air Force (inaudible) said they only had 16, so it looks like they're doing a major build-up of this IRBM, which has both land-based attack capability as well as anti-ship ballistic missile capability.

This indicates they're kind of a long build-up on that. Is -- is the U.S. Navy ready to handle things like this? Apparently they tested one of these in the South China Sea just last week.

MR. SBRAGIA: Yeah, certainly the Chinese have chosen to pursue the development of these kinds of systems, short- medium- and long-range ballistic missiles and other kind of high-end capabilities specifically or even high-end missile systems. They view this, I believe, for several reasons.

One is it is an asymmetric advantage they feel that they have over others in the region, not -- not least of which is the United States, and the development and expansion of those have been significant.

There's nothing -- certainly it is -- this military power report has reported on these developments over a long period of time, and this is a continuation of that. There certainly is an intensification of that, where the Chinese intend to go long-term, particularly with capacities like the hypersonic weapon, where China places heavy emphasis on its research, development and testing of all of its hypersonic glide vehicles. But that's only one of several different categories that they have, and they will continue to build those out, so.

Q: Yeah, and on the -- on the nuclear issue, it says that they're considering launch on warning warfighting strategy. Does that mean they're going to be building more -- much longer force of silo-based ICBMs?

MR. SBRAGIA: You know, the details that are in the report are basically what I can -- we can discuss here. I do think that it's important to understand about -- I think -- and some of your point gets at to what China's no first use policy has been or is or how do you interpret that. Certainly, that is something that bears a lot of discussion with the Chinese itself -- themselves. And it merits further scrutiny by outside observers.

It -- the report states very clearly that China officially maintains a no first use policy, but notes that there's an ambiguity over the conditions under which China's no first use policy could apply. It points out that China's near complete lack of transparency over its nuclear forces raised legitimate questions over China's intent as it fields larger and more capable nuclear forces. And this includes the near completion of what we consider to be a triad capacity, which would include those land-based kind of capabilities.

Q: Thanks.

STAFF: Okay, thanks, Bill.

Let's go to Josh Rogin.

Q: Hi, thank you so much for doing the call. I noticed that there's a lot of mention of influence operations and mention of three warfares. But most of their mission, influence operations are not PLA-specific. I'm wondering if you could talk please a little bit about what does the PLA do, especially inside the United States, and also in other countries outside China's borders, with regard to political operations, especially political warfare?

MR. SBRAGIA: Yes. Secretary Esper mentioned in a recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about -- about just what the nature of the connection of the PLA as a -- as a party army means.

And one of the elements of that is -- is the intimate and really indistinguishable connection between the PLA, what they do, how they operate, how they think, and what the party propaganda apparatus does particularly for the information environment. So it's a very seamless apparatus that they have set up, controlled through the party and then executed through basically every organ of Chinese power that they have, the PLA being one of them.

So information operations are certainly tailored to support the overall national objectives of the party itself, and then tailored or calibrated in some places to the advantages or the systems that the PLA has at its disposal and for its own objectives for both future power projection --

(CROSSTALK)

Q: I -- I understand. If I could just follow up and press you a little bit further on that --

MR. SBRAGIA: Sure.

Q: -- you know, what exactly is the PLA's role within that (inaudible) influence operation, what's the part that they do? And do you see any of that in the United States, especially with regard to (inaudible)?

MR. SBRAGIA: Well, certainly, is -- is you see that just in terms of -- what we do in terms of direct bilateral communications with them, what they publish regularly as they have an employee staffed Ministry of National Defense spokesperson's office led by Senior Colonel Wu Qian. It's intimately tied to their Office of International Military Cooperation and how they socialize and develop messaging that goes out broadly.

There's also an element that's connected in through the party -- party propaganda and political oversight ministry departments that connect into broader Chinese strategic messaging. There's very clearly -- or very obviously that there's aspects of the Chinese military apparatus and its other cyber capabilities in its strategic support forces that help facilitate those -- those messages from very public to private messaging.

STAFF: Okay.

Q: Thank you.

STAFF: All right, thanks, Josh. All right, sir, we still have a little bit of time. I'll -- I'll go ahead and open it up for anyone who'd like to ask questions. We'll just kind of try to do this as organized as possible, so please go ahead.

Q: I -- I have a quick one.

STAFF: All right, start with Bob.

Q: I think you mentioned in your opening statement that in addition to the Djibouti base, that you anticipate that the Chinese will seek to open additional -- could you say where, what -- what general regions, where, more specifically?

MR. SBRAGIA: I -- well, I'll -- I'll put it this way, which is the Chinese have a number of facilities globally already. For the PLA, it's Djibouti. There is no area that I know of that's off the table in terms of where they're looking at.

If you connect that to where their long-term global aspirations are, is that you would anticipate that they would want to have a -- a global presence where they could operate at -- on global scale. So long-term, that's where the directions can go.

I can't --

Q: Outside of Asia, would you say?

MR. SBRAGIA: I think ultimately you -- you will see them pursue locations in every area that you can think of.

Q: Can I ask a -- a follow up on -- on Josh and maybe just a big zoom out question? So Josh -- Josh was asking about PLA -- PLA specific involvement in some of the cyber operations. DOJ has highlighted how the PLA plays a huge part in espionage in the States and DOJ also told the -- the Chinese "Hey, let's -- you know, you've got to get rid of all of these folks" at the same time the Houston consulate was closed.

Have you seen any impact on PLA operations for espionage or any other thing inside the United States in that time period that we're talking about, whenever the Houston consulate was closed in the last six weeks?

MR. SBRAGIA: You know, I don't have data at hand at -- to provide specifics on that yet. That might be something I'll have to get back to you. Certainly this will be something that would be -- would change the -- the nature of activities over a period of time. I think it might be too early to draw a conclusion on that yet so.

Q: And -- and similar to that, obviously, you know, we all talked about increased FONOPs, increased presence of U.S. in the area, increased rhetoric about what the U.S. stands for in the Indo-Pacific? Any evidence that any of that has caused the PLA to think twice about what it does or to reduce its presence or to change any of its operations since you've been watching?

MR. SBRAGIA: Yes I do, actually. It -- the United States military activity -- we refer to as operations activities and investments that -- primarily executed by the Indo-Pacific Command but many of the other combatant commands, as well -- certainly Joint Staff and -- and the Pentagon writ large across the defense enterprise is.

There has been a -- a very notable uptick in terms of what we're doing to safeguard our interests, help reassure our allies. The Chinese have noted that. They -- they are in the position where they see that very, very clearly and they message that to us publicly and privately.

I -- I think that it's important that they reach that conclusion, that the United States is serious, that it's undertaking a -- a long-term and strategic transformation of the department for competition. I believe that the Chinese recognize that very clearly and you see that echoed back as late as the August MND spokespersons conference -- this just occurred last week -- where they -- they echoed that, which is -- it's really important that the United States and China concentrate on risk reduction and crisis management in the areas of cooperation where the interests alive -- align. I think that's an important element of what we do in terms of the DOD's outreach. Certainly the Chinese have seen that pressure and in some cases I believe that it has provided impetus for both sides to ensure that we're keeping channels of communication open, just as the Secretary has commented himself.

Q: But any behavior change, by any chance?

Q: Tom, this is Tony Capaccio, can I ask a quick follow up?

STAFF: Yeah, Tony, one second. Nick -- Nick had one here, I don't think you heard him. He's --

Q: Any -- I just -- just -- just clarify any behavior change.

MR. SBRAGIA: Yeah, I think it -- the near-term activities, the Chinese have been a little bit more cautious about what they're doing and particularly what they're signaling. At the same time as the Chinese, you know, have not moved off their long-term strategic end state, they continue to pursue that and certainly that they've reached the conclusion that the -- the near permanent change is underway in the United States, as well, particularly with the DOD, so.

STAFF: Okay. Hey, Tony, go ahead.

Q: Okay. Sir, you said that the Chinese nearly completed its triad development. Can you play that out a little bit? And has their Jin class submarines actually begun deterrence patrols that could jeopardize the United States' east coast?

MR. SBRAGIA: You know, I can't go past anything that's in the report right now and off the top of my head, I don't know if I have the specifics. I'd -- I'd be glad to get back with you with a specific statement --

Q: Okay but just completing a triad, that's -- that's new. You didn't say that in 2019. Could -- just playing that out, you're saying that they've developed an ICBM force now, submarine, and long range strike airborne force?

MR. SBRAGIA: Yeah, China -- the -- here, I'll provide the specific statement that we have available, which is China's pursuing a nuclear triad with the development of nuclear-capable air-launch ballistic missiles and last year publicly revealed a modified bomber that would carry this missile. We've certainly talked about the Jin class submarines capacities in the past, as well, so.

Q: Right. Okay but you said they've completed basically a -- a -- a -- developing a triad.

(CROSSTALK)

Q: -- that accurate?

MR. SBRAGIA: Yeah, so what I -- what I mentioned is they're -- they're nearing completion or they're pursuing this, so.

Q: Okay, thank you.

STAFF: Okay. Any other questions out there?

Q: Just one last one. Thanks so much. I -- I know that the report said the Chinese PLA Navy is now bigger than the U.S. Navy and I think that's a -- three dozen ships. I read somewhere that we have a plan to get to a 355 ship Navy. I'm wondering if you could (inaudible), how that's progressing?

MR. SBRAGIA: I'm sorry, can you repeat that question?

Q: Yeah. How -- how is -- how goes the plan to raise the U.S. Navy ship levels to 355, and how long do you think it will take and how long does that mean that the Chinese PLA will be larger than the American Navy?

MR. SBRAGIA: Well, size obviously is one element and you can measure that in -- in multiple metrics -- total numbers of ships, which could provide some specifics. I believe right now, presently at 350. By the end of 2020, the Chinese Navy will have 360 vessels and then we account that there will be a continued increase after that point.

What I -- this report in particular, which we're here to talk about, doesn't take a position on future force structure of the United States Navy. It states as a fact the size of each country's battle force. There is certainly more to naval power than ship counts, total counts of the Chinese vessels, there's tonnage, but for -- and -- but I would also draw your attention to weapons systems and it's important to highlight the Chinese ship building advantages in terms of its size of fleet, is both in context of the broader modernization ambitions, virtual class military. This is a long-term challenge and it's not only demarcated by a single variable, which would be total number of vessels, tonnage capacity, capabilities, location, posture, activities, and then other aspects.

Q: Understood. Thank you.

STAFF: Okay, good. I think we have time for one more question if there are any more. Anyone who hasn't had a chance to ask a second question.

Okay, anybody who has another follow-up who didn’t have a chance. All right.

Q: Tom, I had one more on Taiwan if you could clarify.

STAFF: Go ahead, Tony. Last one.

Q: Okay, sir, a couple of weeks ago there were news report that China -- Taiwan placed a $62 billion order for F-16s. Can you clarify that, please? It wasn't $62 billion as far as I could tell.

MR. SBRAGIA: You know, off of the top of my head here I don't have that available. But I'll be glad to get back to you through the PA for that.

Q: That would be good, because that number keeps bouncing out there in Asia.

MR. SBRAGIA: Sure, we'll see what we can do to provide some clarity.

Q: Thank you.

STAFF: All right, thanks, Tony.

Sir, is there anything else you'd like to say at the end here?

MR. SBRAGIA: No, that -- I appreciate your time.

And I -- I -- it would be improper if I didn't say that -- congratulate [NAME OF DOD POLICY EMPLOYEE REDACTED BY REQUEST], who is the primary coordinator within my shop, on putting all this together; not a small task. And certainly the defense intelligence enterprise led by the Asia Pacific Regional Center at DIA is doing the bulk of the work. This is an enterprise report, this -- from the secretary to Congress, but certainly the actors that actually -- the whole sweat equity is from them and it would be wrong if I didn’t highlight their role in it so. 

STAFF: All right, thank everybody for your time. If you have any follow-ups after this, if you think of anything, just get back to me and we'll work it for you.

Thank you.