China's military spending slows, on paper
After more than two decades of double-digit annual growth in defense spending, Beijing announced its budget would grow 7.5 percent in 2010. But analysts say China's military spending is only slowing on paper.
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China’s state-run news service Xinhua reports that the rapid growth of China’s military spending in the past two decades was aimed at modernizing China’s military and that the smaller increase this year shows that “China's defense development has entered a more mature, healthy and stable stage," according to an official.
"All the evidence suggests that they are on a very powerful trajectory of expansion in substantive terms, and they seem to use this figure for political purposes almost, to send signals," said Ron Huisken, a China defense expert at the Australian National University in Canberra.
But an article in Foreign Policy magazine argues that while China’s military is growing and modernizing, fears of China becoming a threat to the US are premature. The US military is still far more advanced than China’s, which does not possess the capability to challenge the US far from Chinese shores, the article argues.
Despite the goose-stepping soldiers at Chinese military parades, the PLA is far from a carbon copy of the Soviet threat. For all the jargon-laden, prideful articles about China's inevitable rise in the world, Chinese strategists are cautious not to openly verbalize aspirations to conquer the globe or establish distant bases, outposts, or supply stations.
Perhaps a generation from now, Chinese military planners might be strategizing more openly about how to acquire overseas basing rights and agreements with allies where they might station their forces abroad, just as the French and British have done since the Napoleonic wars and the Americans have done more recently. But with China, that process has not begun in earnest. At least, not for now.