Military-Industrial Complex & China

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 5/29/2007 01:17:00 AM
The 2007 edition of the United States Department of Defense's Military Power of the People's Republic of China recently came out, and it once again raised concerns about China's growing military capabilities:
China’s near-term focus on preparing for military contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, including the possibility of U.S. intervention, appears to be an important driver of its modernization plans. However, analysis of China’s military acquisitions and strategic thinking suggests Beijing is also generating capabilities for other regional contingencies, such as conflict over resources or territory.

The pace and scope of China’s military transformation has increased in recent years, fueled by continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, and far reaching reforms of the armed forces. The expanding military capabilities of China’s armed forces are a major factor in changing East Asian military balances; improvements in China’s strategic capabilities have ramifications far beyond the Asia Pacific region.

China’s strategic forces modernization is enhancing strategic strike capabilities, as evidenced by the DF-31 intercontinental range ballistic missile, which achieved initial threat availability in 2006. China’s counterspace program - punctuated by the January 2007 successful test of a direct-ascent, anti-satellite weapon - poses dangers to human space flight and puts at risk the assets of all space faring nations. China’s continued pursuit of area denial and anti-access strategies is expanding from the traditional land, air, and sea dimensions of the modern battlefield to include space and cyberspace.
Last year, however, Fred Kaplan of Slate noted that the US military-industrial complex made China into its latest bogeyman after years of placing the Soviet Union in the same category. Summarizing Kaplan, the US military-industrial complex needs to frame a threat that justifies spending on even more weapons even if America already has by far the world's largest stockpile of these weapons:
Every day and night, hundreds of Air Force generals and Navy admirals must thank their lucky stars for China. Without the specter of a rising Chinese military, there would be no rationale for such a large fleet of American nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, or for a new generation of stealth combat fighters—no rationale for about a quarter of the Pentagon's budget. In Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's Quadrennial Defense Review, released this past February, the looming Chinese threat is the explicit justification for all the big-ticket weapons systems that have nothing to do with fighting terrorists or insurgents.

But is the threat real? In each of the last four years, Congress has required the Defense Department to issue a report titled Military Power of the People's Republic of China. The latest edition, issued this week, starts out ominously, but as you read through its 50 double-columned pages, you gradually realize that claims of emerging Chinese superpower are way overblown...

Take the budget. China officially says it's spending $35 billion on its military, a 14.7 percent increase over last year's budget, amounting to 1.5 percent of its gross national product. (The U.S. military budget is nearly 15 times as large and amounts to 4 percent of our GNP; Japan's and South Korea's defense budgets are larger than China's, too.) The report says that China's growth "sustains a trend that has persisted since the 1990s of defense budget growth rates exceeding economic growth"—but read on—"although the growth of defense expenditures has lagged behind the growth in overall government expenditures over the same period of time." (Emphasis mine.)

The Chinese are not exactly happy with being made into a big threat to global security. The Foreign Ministry had this to offer in response to the report:

Q: Recently the United States Department of Defense has issued 2007 annual report on Chinese military power. Do you have any comment on that?

A: The report of the US Department of Defense continues to spread myth of the "China Threat" by exaggerating China's military strength and expenses out of ulterior motives. It is a grave violation of the norms governing international relations and brutal interference in China's internal affairs, to which China expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition.

As a peace-loving country, China steadfastly follows a road of peaceful development, adopting a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. Universally recognized by the international community, China is a major force for peace in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large. Each sovereign state has the right and obligation to develop necessary national defense strength to safeguard its national security and territorial integrity. It is totally erroneous and invalid for the US Report to play up the so-called "China Threat".

Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. China resolutely opposes interference in China's internal affairs by any country with whatever manifestation. The Chinese Government will continue to uphold the basic principles of "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems"and exert the utmost sincerity and efforts to strive for a peaceful reunification. However, we will never tolerate the "Taiwan Independence" or any attempt by anyone to separate Taiwan from China by whatever means. We urge the United States to strictly abide by its commitment to the One China policy, the three Sino-US Joint Communiqu├ęs and opposing "Taiwan Independence" by stopping its arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan, avoiding sending wrong signals to the splittist forces for "Taiwan Independence".