The Washington Post reported on Sunday that China’s Communist Party rulers plan to boost military spending by 11 percent this year. As a result, China’s public defense budget will pass the $100 billion mark for the first time. In the past, DoD has estimated China’s true military spending is nearly double its acknowledged amounts. These significant increases renew questions about the country’s long-term intentions.
“The People’s Liberation Army has had years of double-digit budget increases. That has helped transform China’s military into a force capable of projecting power throughout the region and, increasingly, to faraway conflict zones such as the Somali coast, where pirates have harassed Chinese vessels and crews.
“China has also embarked on a program to build and acquire more sophisticated weaponry, including a home-built J-20 stealth fighter jet, which made a test flight last year, and China’s first aircraft carrier, a refurbished, unfinished Soviet-era vessel purchased in 1998 from Ukraine.”
Growth in China’s military spending will likely be sustained. As the Obama administration has embarked upon its so-called “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region, the Wall Street Journal reported last month on a new assessment from IHS Jane’s, a global think tank specializing in security issues. Jane’s, concluded that China’s defense budget will double by 2015.
“Beijing’s military spending will reach $238.2 billion in 2015, compared with $232.5 billion for rest of the region, according to the report. That would also be almost four times the expected defense budget of Japan, the next biggest in the region, in 2015, the report said…
“China says that its military spending does not pose a threat to any other country, and has repeatedly pointed out that it still represents a tiny fraction of U.S. defense spending. But the new research highlights what U.S. officials are worried about: That China is rapidly increasing its military spending without being sufficiently transparent about its strategic intentions in the region…
“’China’s investment will race ahead at an eye watering 18.75 percent, leaving Japan and India far behind,’ said Paul Burton, senior principal analyst of IHS Jane’s Defence Budgets…"
The Washington Post also noted the unease of China’s neighbors, many of whom are American allies with longstanding defense ties.
“That kind of spending is causing jitters in the region, particularly as China has become increasingly assertive over long-standing territorial claims. In the oil-rich South China Sea, China is involved in a dispute over a small island chain also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
“Relations between China and Japan soured after a 2010 incident involving a Chinese fishing boat captain who rammed a Japanese patrol boat in waters around islands — called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China — claimed by both sides.“Several regional countries, including India, Indonesia and Vietnam, have begun strengthening their military capabilities in response to China’s increased defense spending and growing assertiveness. Some longtime U.S. allies, such as the Philippines, have appealed for a stronger American presence in the region.”