China has ramped up a war machine second only to that of the United States. The military spending level of the People’s Republic sits well above its official estimates, according to a U.S. Defense Department document.
The estimates mean that China’s effort to impose its military strength throughout Asia has an increasingly better chance of success. That means the United States may have to increase its presence in the region, and Japan and South Korea will need to reassess their military budgets.
According to “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China for 2014”:
The Chinese have not been transparent about their spending, with U.S. experts believing the country spends roughly $145 billion on defense, far beyond the $119 billion that China has officially announced.
China has sustained its investments in strategic forces modernization, as well as key anti-access/area-denial capabilities such as advanced intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, long-range land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles, counter-space weapons, and offensive cyber capabilities.
China recently has made aggressive moves toward Japan and Vietnam, the most important of which is its dispute with Japan over which nation owns several islands in the East China Sea. And its ongoing threat to Taiwan would appear to grow as China’s military might does.
China’s aggressive spending occurs during a time when Washington has started to ramp down U.S. spending on the military as a means to cut the national budget deficit. However, this might be reversed if the economy continues to improve and threats to American interests, particularly in Asia and Eastern Europe, increase. Ukraine stands as one example of where a U.S. military presence has strategic interests.
The report concludes:
Chinese leaders, the report said, see this era as a “period of strategic opportunity” to advance national development.
With the central government controlling spending, its ability to increase military spending almost certainly will continue.