2007 March 05 Monday
China Ups Military Spending 17.8%

Just as the Bush Administration appointed Nicholas Negroponte to manage the US relationship with China the Chinese made a big percentage increase in their defense budget.

Apparently by coincidence, the Chinese government chose the same moment to announce that its declared military expenditures for 2007 will amount to $44.94 billion, an increase of 17.8 percent.

According to Pentagon estimates, that declared total represents about a third of actual military spending if equipment purchases are taken into account. But even that would amount to only a fraction of the U.S. military budget, which is proposed to rise to about $623 billion for fiscal 2008.

The difference is narrower than the numbers suggest. The US military has to pay some multiple of what the Chinese pay their soldiers.

The US military is eventually going to become the second most powerful military in the world. Continued economic growth in China with a population more than 4 times larger will make the Chinese economy bigger and they'll have plenty of technology for creating a powerful military.

The western democracies aren't growing in population as fast as the rest of the world. Also, much of the population growth in the West comes from groups that do poorly in school and in the private sector. So the Western democracies are going to continue to dwindle in relative importance on the world stage. The West peaked in world power over 100 years ago when Europeans made up about a quarter of the world's population and they controlled the world far more thoroughly than they do today. Increases in absolute affluence in the West and triumphalist talk have obscured this longer term trend.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 March 05 10:20 PM  China

John S Bolton said at March 5, 2007 10:35 PM:

The Chinese have stolen more secrets than is about to be admitted.
In spite of all that, they are decades behind on AWACS technology, for example.
This was shown in crashes which occurred some months ago, grounding their system.
China will pay hundreds of bilions a year in dollar support, even if only to maintain the technology transfer flow towards them, and the opennness to espionage here,
until the day when when they feel more equal militarily.
It is not man's nature to be content with peace and equality; and the Chinese CP has the blood of tens of millions on its hands.
They should not be trusted, and we should become continually less open to their espionage.

Kenelm Digby said at March 6, 2007 4:19 AM:

Using statistics from the 'CIA world factbook', it is likely that China exceeds the USA in terms of aggregate GDP at purchasing power parity at present, or at least in the very near future.
Therefore, the claim that Chinese military spending is a 'small fraction of America's', which almost always ignores 'PPP', is dubious to say the least.

Kenelm Digby said at March 6, 2007 4:25 AM:

A further point, the reproductive rate of the actual *White ethnic English* as distinguished from immigrants fell below replacement level sometime prior to 1972 (perhaps as early as 1964).1977 was exceptional in recent British history as year in which immigration, due to political and econmic pressures was actually subdued - in that year England showed a marked population drop.
Therefore, we can conclude that numbers of English in England have decreased substantially in the last 40 years, although the government makes it impossible to tease out the vital information.
The situation in the other major west European nations is similar.

Sal said at March 6, 2007 6:23 AM:

The Chinese don't have to be as strong as the US is militarily or even 2nd best. They just need to be able to inflict enough casualties that the US thinks twice about a fight. The Chinese are banking (and rightly so, I believe) that the US will shy away from all out war. We could defeat them in a war, it would be costly in men, money and equipment, but the US would win. The Chinese are betting that the US doesn't have the stomach for it.
A hypothetical is Taiwan. I can easily see the PLA invading Taiwan and the US coming to aid the Taiwanese. The PLA seizes the airport in Taipei and some ports, but stil doesn't control the whole island. The US expeditionary force shows up and we don't want to wreck the place with firepower, collateral damage and all that, the media bitching about US military being heavy handed, all the Iraq shit x10. The Chinese will say to Europe, stay out of it, this is an internal Chinese issue and don't mess up the global economy. Europe will comply. Then the Chinese leadership will then say to the US, "We know you can kick us out of Taiwan and that the US 7th Fleet is on the way. How many men can you loose? 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 25,000? How many ships? 2, 5, 10, more? An aircraft carrier (the Chinese have some good subs)? That is no problem for us, we can go higher too. Remember, this will be on TV too back home." I think we will back down. The Chinese are not afraid to take casaulties and they do not fear world opinion. Remember Tianamen? Everybody wrung their hands and then it was back to business. They have a surplus population too and lots of young men due to the baby gender imbalance. These guys won't have families, wives or kids, nothing to loose, etc...

They Chinese also have our W88 plans, technology from that US aircraft that landed in Hainan in April of 2001 and lots of other US secrets. You can bet this is being used too.

Mensarefugee said at March 6, 2007 7:03 AM:

Way things are. I doubt the US would fight anyone that can put up the faintest whiff of resistance. China is pretty safe.

Randell is right - The West is in a free-fall decline.

Dave said at March 6, 2007 9:49 AM:

Yeah, agreed the West is in collapse, especially Europe.
Kenelm, there are some interesting stats on England:
British population going up:

'Britons' in England going down:

China is powerful but surely with all the clever Uni grads its going to be harder for the 'Communists' to keep control in the way they had, a big country is hard to control once you start losing your grip.

undergroundman said at March 6, 2007 5:11 PM:

You're ignoring the fact that, in the wake of increasingly complex and destructive technology, absolute size of the military really does not matter. We only have to worry if the Chinese begin to overtake us in technological development. That's not happening yet, but as more and more US schoolchildren turn away from science and math, it might happen.

Joseph said at March 6, 2007 6:56 PM:

I don't want to give you hard time undergroundman, but the US has the most advanced military ever and we still can't (or won't) crush the enemy in Iraq. I suspect quite a bit is due to the fact that we "play nice" but all of our UAVs, night vision, electronics we can't stop a roadside IED that is rigged with piano wire if as a nation we are not willing to be ruthless with these people. The Chinese (and jihadi forces) have no problem being ruthless, they shoot Tibetans and they killed their own people in Tiananem Square just for being troublesome and protesting in a pretty tame manner. It is how they wage war. Unless we are willing to use the most destructive methods like nuclear devices or something else (and I do not think we will, at least as I see things now) then we will be forced to fight wars on our enemies' terms. That means going head to head with infantry in street fights, urban combat, guerilla-type fighting, bloody, low-tech stuff that is fought with automatic weapons, RPGs, IEDs, mines, ambushes, house-clearing and the like while having our people killed by relatively low-tech, but highly effective weapons on a regular basis. Right now, we are having our advanced helicopters shot down by RPGs and HMGs (the stupid Pentagon calls them hard landings due to mechanical difficulties. I can see how a bullet riddled engine could lead to a mechanical difficulty). We may have superior technology, but we must be willing to use it. If not, all that stuff are essentially door stops or paperweights. We have time-tested low tech stuff that we used on the Germans and Japanese but we don't use now (I feel for PR reasons and the fact that the media would flip) like flamethrowers, napalm, white phosphorous and demolition vehicles, all very effective and some almost 100 years old (flamethrower). I think the Chinese are gambling on the fact that the US won't fight dirty. Also all of their militray spending is useful for intimidating and warning nations like Vietnam, both Koreas, Japan, Russia, Thailand, Phillipines, and others. China has designs on the Pacific for a number of reasons and a more advanced military could make quick work of the Phillipine Navy over the Spratly Islands, convince Taiwan that fighting to stay the R.O.C. is a bad idea or persuading Vietnam that they should adjust their border with the PRC, "for the benefit of both nations..." The Chinese and Vietnamese went at it in 1979 and it was bloody stuff. I think the Chinese got their asses handed to them and they are probably spoiling for a rematch.

Anonymous said at March 6, 2007 7:52 PM:

You forgot one other thing. As the U.S. increasingly consists of more and more non-Americans, the real Americans come not to care if "their" country is defeated, because it's not their country anymore.

Stephen said at March 6, 2007 9:03 PM:

China is a nuclear armed power. They have ICBMs. Don't even think about a ground war - its cost will not be measured in materiel and soldiers, but in the millions of citizens vapourised in each country.

Randall Parker said at March 6, 2007 9:51 PM:


Yes, it is rational to feel less loyal to that which is increasingly not yours and to that which is increasingly used against your interests.

My advice: Get rich. You may need to live in a gated community.


Sure, absolute military size does matter. Few non-nuclear powers could stop the United States from invading. Military power matters in conflicts between states. Also, the US military destroyed lots of Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and cut it down in size.

Cedric Morrison said at March 7, 2007 1:20 AM:

This is a serious, non-rhetorical question: Why isn't it in the interest of the United States to encourage Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to get nuclear missiles of their own? Would that not be a far better check on the military ambitions of China than anything the Unites States could do?

Dave said at March 7, 2007 9:46 AM:

Cedric, who's to say Taiwan, Japan and South Korea will remain as pro American as they are now once they no longer need to be under its nuclear umbrella?

How good could the US anti-missile system become? would it one day enable the US to fight against a nuclear power with confidence of stopping a nuclear response? I would guess no because it would be too big a risk, but technology moves on apace.

Cedric Morrison said at March 7, 2007 10:02 AM:

If they someday become hostile to the United States, all three of those countries are advanced enough to make nuclear weapons anyway. However, if they had them now, would they be a better check on China than the United States itself?

John Smith said at March 7, 2007 8:48 PM:

In the popular media, no one wants to acknowledge the reality that the Chinese growth is a result of their IQ and despite the environmental issues, political instability, rural urban divide, excess males, aging population,

China will not stop until Per capita GDP is at least 15-20,000 - because it has the smartest people in the world and is the greatest civilization in the world.

Two hundred years ago Napoleon knew the power of China.

The most interesting thing about China's growth is how it will diminish hatred of the US throughout the world. International Socialist Organization will no longer be able to point to the US as the greatest evil in the world. Nor Osama Bin Laden, or Hugo Chavez.

When the Muslim world sees the Heathen Chinese put troops in Muslim countries to secure oil wealth, how will they react? Muslims are intolerant to all non-Muslims. They will also hate China too. How will the US diplomatically maneuver through this situation?

China's increase in funding for space programs will hopefully accelerate ours too. Moon colony by 2017? It's possible.


John S Bolton said at March 8, 2007 12:16 AM:

There is also a NYT article on p.A8, March 5th, 2007.
Chinese military spending increased 15%/year, 1990-2005.
They also say that the real figure is likely to be 2-4 times higher than the current figure given, according to military analysts.
Whether that also reflects an adjustment for the real value of the currency, absent interventions, wasn't stated.
This is why global utility function-aries can mislead us:
what if we're allowing them to build up war capacity, and by receiving what ought not to be received, namely dollar support, funded by wrongful means overseas?

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2007 8:46 PM:

Cedric Morrison,

I think the US would benefit if the Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese developed nukes. Nukes are equalizers. China will be able to afford a huge conventional military. But as long as bordering states have nukes the Chinese won't be able to threaten and pressure them much.

As for these countries as threats to the US: The world has changed in one fundamental way: Competition for natural resources is not very productive. What are we supposed to fight the Koreans or Japanese over? Dwindling oil fields? The fact that the oil fields are depleting so rapidly argues against taking the trouble to fight over them.

For far less than the costs of conquering oil fields the United States could build a fleet of nuclear reactors that could power our homes and industry and, with plug-in hybrids, power most of our transportation needs. Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore could do likewise. So why compete militarily? There's no big economic gain from doing so.

John Holmes said at April 23, 2007 12:12 PM:

The US has fought dirty, Hiroshima nagasaki, were 9/11's on a larger scale...civilian targets justified as a means to secure victory. what about the fire bombing of Tokiyo...which was worse.

Let us not forget the national guardsmen opening fire on students during Vietnam...people are not as free as they believe.

500 000 Iraqi children were put to the sword, before the Iraq war even started....jeesh Saddam was a payed agent of the CIA.

don't give me this sil;ly talk about our higher morals in the west...read some history.

American young men and women are fighting for an Empire....the republic was lost long ago.

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