China’s military growth moderate and matches its economic strength
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The history of the PLA demonstrates its increasing capacities and firm determination to safeguard China’s national security. What has contributed to China’s military development in the past 90 years? How should China respond to the Western-hyped “China threat” theory? Global Times reporter Liu Jianxi talked to two experts on the issue.
Zhang Junshe, research fellow at the China Naval Research Institute
Since the start of reform and openingup, China’s military strength has grown in terms of combat capability, weaponry and overall coordination. The first aircraft carrier domestically designed and built by China launched in April, marking another milestone in the country’s military development.
However, despite huge achievements over the past 90 years, there is still room for the PLA to be improved to match China’s international status as a major power and the mission to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Some Western countries harbor suspicions over the building up of the military and hype the “China threat” theory. CIA Director Mike Pompeo identified China as the biggest long-term threat to the US when asked to select Washington’s biggest mid-to-long term concerns between China, Russia and Iran.
Worries from the West are unwarranted. Beijing raised its defense budget by about 7 percent this year, basically matching the rate of the country’s economic growth. While the figure was earlier predicted to reach 10 percent, it turns out to be the smallest increase in more than a decade. The country’s military spending accounts for only about 1.3 percent of GDP, compared with NATO members’ pledge to dedicate at least 2 percent of GDP to defense.
In addition, there is a huge gap in weaponry and military modernization between Beijing and Washington. Take aircraft carriers as an example. While the US has already produced nuclearpowered carriers, China’s latest carrier is still steam-powered.
More importantly, Beijing is known for its defensive military strategy. It advocates a peaceful rise, and has no intention for military or political expansion. China’s military development is moderate and keeps with its economic strength. It poses no threat to other countries.
Li Jie, Beijing-based naval expert
China’s military development has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past 90 years. The PLA’s weaponry, combat capability, organization and overall collaboration have realized qualitative improvement especially after the parade on September 3, 2015.
China announced that it will increase its military spending by about 7 percent this year, its lowest increase in over two decades. This matches the country’s GDP growth. China’s economy has shifted from high-speed growth to medium-speed growth. The rise of 7 percent in the defense budget conforms to the laws of economic development while meeting the needs of the country’s mili- tary development.
Beijing advocates peaceful development, but still the West, especially the US, wantonly twists the facts about China’s military buildup, in an attempt to drive a wedge between Beijing and regional countries. The “China threat” theory is an ideal tool for these forces with ulterior motives to win strategic benefits. In the meantime, some other countries, usually small and medium in size, are not familiar with and thus may misunderstand China’s military strategy.
Therefore, at international events Beijing should introduce more of its developmental ideas, and clarify to the international community that China will unswervingly take the road of peaceful development. In the meantime, China can put more efforts into the development of its military. The more powerful China is militarily, the stronger capabilities it has to deter the threat of war.