China Military Spending Up 12.7%


If Japan was nervous yesterday about China’s military build-up, it will likely be even more so today.

Reports Thursday suggested Japan has voiced renewed concerns following an incident involving two Chinese naval planes. According to AFP, Japan was forced to scramble fighters to chase off the Chinese aircraft after they came within 35 miles of the disputed Senkaku Islands that are administered by Japan (they are known as Diaoyu in Chinese).

‘We regard the modernisation of China's military power and its growing and intense activities as concerns,’ Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano is quoted as having said. ‘Our country will continue to pay close attention to moves by China's military.’

It’s not just Japan that has been tweaked this week. Yesterday, South Korea’s coastguard reportedly shot and wounded a crew member of a Chinese trawler after the Chinese vessel was boarded following suspicions that it was fishing illegally in waters off the coastal town of Taean.

Reporting again, AFP noted:

‘Coastguard officers boarded the boats, which were suspected of fishing 11 kilometres inside South Korea's exclusive economic zone, but faced tough resistance from weapons-wielding Chinese crewmen.

‘“The Chinese crewmen wielded a hammer, a hatchet and metal pipes, hurting one of our coastguard officers. We had no choice but to fire off some live shots," the (coastguard) spokesman said.’

Today, China announced that it will be boosting military spending by 12.7 percent this year, returning it to double-digit growth after it rose just 7.5 percent in 2010— the lowest increase in years. Of course, these official figures are generally seen as significantly underestimating military expenditure, so the true figure could be much higher. But even this kind of growth is bound to worry neighbours who were already nervous about the increasingly assertive posture that China had started to strike last year.

One reason for the big hike this year could be a desire to boost PLA salaries at a time when inflation concerns are looming large. Also, it bears repeating that even with these kinds of increases, the United States still spends more on defence than the next dozen or so countries combined.

But perceptions matter—something you’d have hoped Beijing would have learned after the various spats it found itself in with neighbours last year. Harassing neighbours at sea hardly seems the best way to reassure them about your intentions, and is certainly no way of advancing Chinese diplomacy. Unless, of course, some see a chance to spark another little row in the hope that Chinese will rally around the flag. China’s leadership does, after all, have a history of fanning the flames of nationalism. With a wary eye on unrest in the Arab world, it must seem at least a little tempting for some to dust off this play now.

August 14, 2011 at 09:45

Stay ifnromavtie, San Diego, yeah boy!

March 9, 2011 at 16:13

@ JB wrote: “…regarded as completely false by most credible observers”
Hmm…wondering who are the MOST credible observers? CNN? CIA, Pentagon? In the first place, why should any country, including the US, needs to be “completely” transparent on her spending. My money, My way! For reason of limited mutual trust, I will let you know “that much”. That’s always the rule of law. To think otherwise is naive, and quote Gates: to have his head examined!

March 9, 2011 at 16:09

Travel, study and live in the West and come back with a different mindsets do NOT automatically make the society unharmonious. China, considering its geographical size, population and diversity, is a far more harmonious society than say, India, or Phillipines.

March 7, 2011 at 05:13

Dear YangZi, I came to conclusion that you dislike America as you pitted asia vs USA. See line

“US military obligation requires big spending, which is not sustainable. in an arms race between China, Asia and US, US will lose because it need to spend several times more in order to meet its obligations.”

Don’t you think it was rather presumptuous on your part to speak on behalf of whole Asia?

Also, a comment like ” A re-militarised Japan is more a problem for US than for China. US is the reason Japan is not a “normal” country,not China.” has little to no ground. Japan trusts USA so much that almost all of its defense is in USAs hand and on the other hand (it totally Rhymed!!!) China has had recently insulted Japan over a petty fishing boat matter and in response Japan has adopted new defense policy this year which clearly stresses China as a threat and for the first time in ~half-century Japan is going for re-arnament.

So, I hope you can see know that you were incorrect on some points and I thought you were a troll. Now, I believe yours was an innocent mistake. :)

yang zi
March 5, 2011 at 18:51

nuclear korean and nuclear Japan is not the end of the world. after all, North Korean has it, Pakistan has it, why not Japan?

Remember the hostility to Japan in 80s? it all end up with the street politics of control the second most powerful guy.

The anxiety over US decline is not warranted. the cycle of capitalist economy is normal and nothing to be worried about. China will never be on par with US without deep culture and society change. it will take a long long time to do that. besides, China’s economy is facing huge obstacles.

yang zi
March 5, 2011 at 18:39

Johny, I love US and don’t hate Japan. I also strongly support a US lead world order. so I don’t know where you get this from. what I hate are hypocrites, these people are insulting human’s intelligence. the fact is that China’s military spending is too small compared to its GDP. the so called concerns at best are just baby cries.

US has every right to defend its interests. but the shifting virtues and double standards are childish and disrespectful to US itself.

yang zi
March 5, 2011 at 18:18

Anon, I am not saying asia is against US, I am just saying every country has its own interests. China and Japan has problems but they have coexisted for thousands of years. China does not want to invade Japan. A remilitarised Japan will not invade China either because of the horror of a nuclear war. the only consequence of this is that Japan will ask US to leave. the Diaoyu island is a small problem blown out of proportion. Japan will be gladly get away from US if it have a chance.

Let’s not caught up with US vs China. To maintain US’s greatness, US need to check its own problems and do something about it. all this theatrics around the core problem of runaway spending is not helping anyone. only a strong US helps US, not power politics.

if we believe the basic trend of wealth and technology’s equal distribution around the world, US will face a lot more problems. China is just the first of many to come. besides, China “problem” is made by US, with the hostile altitude towards China’s unification and integrity.

March 5, 2011 at 13:29

There are some interesting figures coming from a Shanghai analyst today; CCP spending on ‘internal security’ forces now exceeds that of PLA spending. Why? Revolution.

What has changed in recent years? The youth of various countries have been encouraged to travel west for education in the hope that they will return with new technical skills in order to benefit the country (not only China). But the youth are returning with, not only, new technical skills but with a belief in democracy … which is being demanded in the Middle East and, soon … in China.

Remember, contrary to CCP statements, China does NOT have a ‘harmonious’ society.

March 5, 2011 at 09:41

Considering China’s published budget is regarded as completely false by most credible observers, its hard to know whether this increase means anything. $150 billion is not an unreasonable figure for China’s real spending, but it is completely impossible to know what it is outside of a huge spread.

March 5, 2011 at 04:15

@yang zi Whats wrong with you Chinese guys? Nobody is complaining about China’s budget, nobody is posting racist/hateful comments against China for increasing military expenditure BUT still you use this opportunity to post stuff against Japan and USA. Is hatred all that’s left in you people?

March 4, 2011 at 21:29

Agree 100%.But we don’t need a Bull(China)in the China Shop.So Japan,S.Korea need to take up slack in fact it is time the above two countries had a re look at nuclear option.

March 4, 2011 at 17:00

yang zi- Why would Asia be against the US? As far as I can tell Asia is actually leaning towards the US.

You may be right that the ‘neighbors’ will settle down when they see a responsible China, but thats the problem, they havn’t seen it recently. You may also be wrong, it’s more difficult to gain trust than to lose it.

US overseas commitment in some places is useless, but it can certainly be argued that there is no place where it is more important than in Asia.

I can guarantee you a remilitarized China is a bigger problem for China than the US, we participate in Joint military exercises with them.

yang zi
March 4, 2011 at 15:23

the increase mostly goes to improve living conditions.

China could spend 2.5% of GDP, a modest sum compared to other countries. US spends 4%. To reach 2.5%, China needs to increase military spending to $150b. this is a 70% increase. The nervous neighbors are over rated. they will settle down when they come to terms to their own ability and see a responsible China. A re-militarised Japan is more a problem for US than for China. US is the reason Japan is not a “normal” country,not China.

US military obligation requires big spending, which is not sustainable. in an arms race between China, Asia and US, US will lose because it need to spend several times more in order to meet its obligations. It is possible that Chinese spending combined with other asia countries, will exceed US spending by a big margin.

Current US model is not sustainable. it needs to reduce overseas commitment (they are useless), cut defense spending, rely on regional powers to maintain peace.

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