China’s mil­i­tary growth mod­er­ate and matches its eco­nomic strength

Global Times US Edition - - FORUM -

Ed­i­tor’s Note:

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.

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