March 28, 2008

China’s 2008 Defense Budget

When I look at the bigger picture, taking into account China’s increasing ASAT capabilities, these developments pose a threat of an altered nature

How long before China’s might develops into an effective bargaining chip in negotiations with the West…

In what reflects the countries rapid economic growth, China recently announced plans to increase defense spending by just short of 18% to 417.77 billion yuan (58.8 billion). According to spokes person, Jiang Enzhu, the additional money will be used to buy hi-tech armaments” as it continues transforming its 2.3 million man forces into a more sophisticated and modern fighting machine. In comparative terms, for the U.S. to increase its defense expenditure by an equivalent proportion it would be akin to a rise of between $90 and $100billion.

Sums and figures aside, one cannot help but dismiss China’s assurances that such defense increases, will not pose a threat to other nations. In recent years, they have expanded their intercontinental and short-range missile arsenal, added new warships and submarines, and vastly upgraded bombers and jet fighters. We recall too, last year’s successful ballistic missile test to destroy a satellite in orbit. The rapid rise has concerned western interests due to a lack of real transparency concerning intentions. Wrote Gordon Fairclough and Jason Leow in the Wall Street Journal,

The U.S. is seeking “a greater mutual understanding of strategic intent,” said David S. Sedney, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia during a visit to Shanghai, adding, “greater transparency on China’s part is important to prevent miscalculations.”

A quick look at past figures reveals a massive 133% increase in defense expenditure since 2001. Even if one allows for some accepted quotas of distortion from Washington sources, the sums remain disturbing; some of these estimates point to a real figure nearly twice as high as the Chinese are presently asserting.

There are other factors warranting consideration, not least of which, the implications for the strategically sensitive Taiwan Straits for which China remains fixated. Consider an excerpt from a Pentagon report, “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2008”,

“China’s near-term focus on preparing for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, including the possibility of U.S. intervention, is an important driver of its modernization. However, analysis of China’s military acquisitions and strategic thinking suggests Beijing is also developing capabilities for use in other contingencies, such as conflict over resources or disputed territories.”

The account concluded that the Chinese were acquiring and developing an assortment of modern weaponry set to alter not just the regional military balance but would also have global repercussions.

When I look at the bigger picture, taking into account China’s increasing ASAT capabilities, these developments pose a threat of an altered nature; one relating to the birth of an industrial scientific complex set to stimulate China’s hi-tech industrial base and education programs, much like America’s space program did in the sixties and seventies.

How long before China’s might develops into an effective bargaining chip in negotiations with the West? This will represent a turning point, as Beijing exploit's new forms of political and economic benefits as derived from its emerging power.

Free Burma
Robert Gates on China
Who's the foe, I says Hu
Cyberwarfare: The new challenge
China, India. How real the Economic Threat to America

I look forward to your comments

16 comments:

MK said...

China is growing economically and we keep buying our crap from them. What did people expect that there would be no price to pay? Forget it, there always is, these are commies we're talking about. Folks who killed millions and millions of their own people, beat the tripe out of Tibet and harvest dissidents organs without batting an eyelid. Thinking that these commies who don't care much for their own people won't bite us in the ass one day is incredible stupidity. One day China is going to think about using all those arms they've forked good money over for, then it'll be time to pay the piper. Better hope the interest hasn't been compounded.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

(I have to point out that "commies" aren't the only ideologues with a proven record of brutality. The people who were beheading Iraqis they didn't approve of did not follow Lenin or Mao.)

That said, I'm glad to see a detailed discussion of China's military activity: but far from glad that it's happening.

I recognize that it's nearly inevitable that China would regain its prominent place among the world's nations. I had hoped that the Middle Kingdom which emerged would be less bent on conquest.

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

The problem is that because of their massive infusion into world economic markets, China already has the bargaining chip that prevents them from answering for atrocities that other countries are not only sanctioned for but have had military action used as a means of quelling the problem.

Their economic strength has allowed them a free hand in growing their technoligical military, ( they have always had a huge land force simply because of their massive polulation), and no one seems willing to stand up to the Chicoms because they have a vested interest in their economic capabilites as well as the fact that the Chicoms have invested in a way that if they are confronted they could actually destroy or severely damage world economic markets including unfortunatly the USA!

American Interests.blog said...

mk: You have an uncanny ability to tell it like it is... a "price to pay" alright... Thanks

Brian: I could have got more detailed still, but I think my readers will get the message. Let's hope that the west can counter any intent on conquest through measured, "win-win" means.

American Interests.blog said...

The liberal Lie the Conservative truth: Precisely, due to economic interests, we have permitted them to get away with more than a fair share of brutality. Moreover, due to the same interests, we have made ourselves most susceptible in the event of hostility, not merely of a military nature. Thanks for commenting...

Paul Champagne said...

China is already a formidable force in negotiations. The developed world needs China economically ... and that is more dangerous than their ASAT program.

Tapline said...

Otto, Excellent post as usual...the shipment of triggers to Taiwan was not a mistake??....A message maybe?? stay well.....

American Interests.blog said...

paul champagne: Indded they are, and set to get more powerful...Thanks for coming around Paul...

Tapline: Not a mistake, most interesting. I wonder...

MK said...

Thanks otto. You have a point tapline, the chicoms have been caught snooping around and meddling in the west. Perhaps it's time Sam and the west start losing more fancy weapons in Taiwan. Actually just Sam, it's not like the rest are interested in weapons of war, most have invested hugely in soft power and Sam's kindness.

"...they have always had a huge land force simply because of their massive population..."

I'm desperately holding out for the one-child policy to work its magic, we're really screwed otherwise.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

mk,

Re. "I'm desperately holding out for the one-child policy to work its magic, we're really screwed otherwise."

I've run into the assertion that China has, with its one-child policy, shot itself in the foot.

Not so much by reducing its population, as by the sort of population they'll have in a few decades.

Chinese culture being what it is, families are said to tend strongly to selecting male children for their one child.

This child is then lavished with attention. After all, he's the only child they'll have.

In time, he will grow up.

Having become accustomed to be the center of attention.

With, perhaps, an inflated impression of his own worth.

And, he'll be expected to marry. A nice, Chinese, girl. Not a foreigner.

Just one problem. There aren't anywhere near enough nice Chinese girls to go around. They didn't make it to birth.

So, the argument goes, in another decade or so, China will have a young generation of self-centered, frustrated young men.

These young men will be the shining hope of tomorrow's China - and they will be the managers, executives, and leaders of China near the middle of the 21st century.

It's a recipe for disaster. Think of the American sixties, on steroids.

I hope this prediction isn't true. A China ruled by selfish brats is going to hurt people outside the country, as well as tear down what few gains have been made to date.

American Interests.blog said...

Brian: That's a neat observation ... The sixties on steroids, lol..

Jeff said...

China will be the real problem in the future as they reach out for more and more natural resources to support their needs.

Otto, I would really like you to review the Obama political ad on my blog and tell me what you think. Thanks.

American Interests.blog said...

Jeff: About China's needs; read somewhere that by 2025 there will be some 500 million cars on China's roads... hope they're all going to have catalytic converters otherwise Gore's going to have a cardiac....

I'll be over to have a look at the Obama video real soon...

American Interests.blog said...

Jeff: About China's needs; read somewhere that by 2025 there will be some 500 million cars on China's roads... hope they're all going to have catalytic converters otherwise Gore's going to have a cardiac....

I'll be over to have a look at the Obama video real soon...

Aurora said...

China is an abomination from start to finish, from its brutal colonization and occupation of Tibet and its complicity with the brutality going on in Burma and North Korea. Of course China has no room to talk with its tens of millions murdered over the last several decades. Not to mention its abominable brick factories where children and the retarded worked as slaves and the journalist who exposed it was cowed into silence. And we can't forget the many women forced into bloody abortions, the Christians and Falun Gong adherents hounded for their beliefs and those considered to be dangerous political opponents just disappearing or being mowed down by tanks and never spoken of again.
This is perhaps the most brutal and evil regime that the modern world has ever known. Every free country should be shunning them, not trading with them.
And by the way, are the Chinese people so well off...so well provided for? Are the hospitals and roads so good? Are the people so prosperous that all that excess unneeded money can be poured into the infinite military ambitions of the Communist Party elite?

American Interests.blog said...

Aurora; Thanks for reminding us..