Guest Post: China’s Military Development, Beyond the Numbers

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Andrew S.Erickson and Adam P. Liff of,

Given China’s rapid rise in all aspects of national power, as well as its reluctance to release specific details about many important aspects of its military spending, its annual budget announcement rightly attracts worldwide attention. Last week, China revealed its projected 2013 official defense budget: 720.2 billion yuan (roughly $US114 billion), a figure that continues a trend of nominal double-digit spending since 1989 (the lone exception: 2010).

Although China’s limited transparency about specific defense budget line items matters, it shouldn’t distract observers from seeing the bigger picture concerning China’s military development:

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) increasingly has the resources, capabilities, and confidence to attempt to assert China’s interests on its contested periphery, particularly in the Near Seas (Yellow, East, and South China Seas). This development has the potential to seriously challenge the interests of the U.S., its allies, and other partners in the region, as well as access to and security of a vital portion of the global commons—waters and airspace that all nations rely on for prosperity, yet which none own. That’s why the PLA’s development matters so much to a Washington located halfway around the world.

Yet beyond China’s immediate periphery the actual impact of PLA spending growth overall may be far less impressive than the headline numbers suggest. The PLA would need far greater resources and capabilities to pursue high-intensity combat capabilities much further away from China’s borders and the territory it claims. At least at present, Beijing is not prioritizing such capabilities. There’s no need to wait for China to achieve full transparency to see this; manifest trends, properly interpreted, speak for themselves. Meanwhile, the development of lower-end capabilities useful for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as protection of sea lanes against non-state actors, bode well for the PLA’s growing role in cooperative security. Hence, even as the Near Seas become more contested, there is significant potential to build on nascent developments in more distant waters—where Beijing has no claims—and further cooperation among China, the U.S., and other nations.

These are the key characteristics of China’s military development. Properly understood, they can inform constructive responses in a challenging time. Misunderstood and conflated, they can confuse and inflame.

A case in point is commentary about China’s defense budget, a very important issue about which Chinese and foreign media coverage often produces more heat than light. On the one hand, Chinese media reports tend to summarily dismiss reasonable foreign (and some domestic) concerns about the limited transparency of China’s defense spending and rapid military development, failing to recognize the destabilizing effects that such opacity engenders unnecessarily, the potential threat that China’s increasingly capable military poses to its neighbors, and the fact that these neighbors have legitimate rights and interests of their own. Especially in the case of China’s official mouthpieces, there is severely limited room for alternative views or expressions of concern about recent developments and their external consequences; criticisms are routinely dismissed as allegedly insincere machinations of anti-China elements aimed at hyping a “China threat theory” for ulterior motives.

Conversely, foreign commentary on China’s defense spending sometimes presents an incomplete picture of reality, exaggerating some factors while overlooking others entirely and frequently missing the forest for the trees—and often some fairly non-representative trees at that. In particular, some commentators conflate rapid development of high-intensity military capabilities aimed primarily at enforcing longstanding irredentist territorial claims in the Near Seas with slower, lower-intensity( but still very expensive) development of platforms primarily useful in low-intensity missions far beyond China’s shores. Other critics employ inflammatory language that distracts and detracts.

Given all this noise, it’s important that in-depth research on China’s defense spending and military development enters into the policy discussion. Our forthcoming article in the peer-reviewed journal The China Quarterly draws on several years of intensive research based on over 100 discrete Chinese-language sources, including various government and military publications, to explore related questions. The analysis below further synthesizes and supplements several of the key findings from this research.

Strategic Geography, Basic Trajectory, and Key Priorities

One crucial observation often absent from the commentary about China’s military development is the simple reality that its defense planners face a complicated strategic calculus, owing largely to geography. Land borders with more than a dozen countries (including multiple nuclear powers), a string of island nations interposed between its eastern seaboard and the western Pacific and Indian Oceans, and ongoing island and/or maritime disputes with all of its maritime neighbors, coupled with decades of economic and military inferiority, have largely compelled China to maintain relatively limited, consistently-defined strategic objectives for most of the period since 1978.

Since witnessing Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and directly experiencing the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait crises and the 1999 Belgrade Embassy bombing, Beijing has funded and built its military for the reasons it says it has: to compensate for past neglect—which meant that well into the 1990s the PLA consisted largely of obsolete 1950s-era Soviet military equipment and a bloated land army—that severely limited the PLA’s ability to cope conventionally with even a moderately-capable adversary or project even minimal naval or air power beyond its land borders, even to assert its long-standing territorial and maritime claims a few miles offshore; and to take what its leaders see as China’s rightful place as a great power with “a seat at the table” and commensurate regional suasion and global influence.

Despite its relative military inferiority throughout much of this period, by largely, if decreasingly, focusing on potential conflicts in the Near Seas, the PLA has rapidly exploited its geographical proximity and the vulnerabilities in potential adversaries’ military technologies, achieving asymmetric capabilities that are disproportionately efficient in asserting its interests, even though its overall defense spending remains significantly less than that of the U.S. In the words of leading China scholar and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Thomas Christensen, writing in 2001, this core focus has enabled the PLA to “pose problems without catching up.” Over the past decade, continued rapid economic growth and technological development has facilitated military development that now far outpaces, and the acquisition of capabilities that in most cases are far out of proportion to, those of most of China’s neighbors—Russia and Japan, arguably, excepted.

In short, for most of the past two decades, China’s military development had mapped closely to a relatively limited set of basic objectives and, at least until its disruptive assertiveness post-2009—Beijing had played a mixed hand with remarkable effectiveness.

Proportional, Sustainable, and Increasingly Accurate

When compared to the overall size of its economy, China’s military spending is proportional to present objectives and sustainable, at least in the near- to medium-term. Even during the past decade of rapid increases to defense spending, the official defense budget has held steady at roughly 1.3-1.5 percent of GDP—when calculated based on high-end foreign estimates of actual total defense spending during the same period the figure still falls between 2 and 3 percent of GDP. Although local government debt in China is a growing concern, up to this point—and in stark contrast to the fiscal situation in the United States and many other advanced economies—swelling tax revenues concomitant with surging GDP have allowed Beijing to increase (aggregate) spending on other government priorities even faster than the defense budget, a trend which hardly creates fertile ground for impassioned advocacy of cuts to defense spending. In fact, investment in China’s military development often is explicitly linked to furthering the Chinese leadership’s explicitly-stated objective of achieving the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” an abstract goal which nevertheless resonates powerfully, and emotionally, with much of the Chinese public, further buttressing popular support for investment in the military.

A Long and Increasingly Costly Road

Yet despite remarkable progress and while impressive in its own right, China’s rapid increases to its defense budget haven’t necessarily translated as smoothly into commensurate improvements to actual warfighting capabilities as the headline-grabbing double-digit nominal figures might appear to suggest.

The PLA’s development over the past 35 years has followed a tortuous path to reach its current conditions. A first step was Deng Xiaoping’s abandonment of Mao’s disastrous decades-long policies in the late 1970s, which went far toward freeing the PLA from ideological distraction. A second step was the reversal of neglect of the military during the 1980s, beginning with a long-delayed return to increases to defense spending in real terms in 1989. But to a large degree it was not until the latter half of the 1990s that a relative victory in the war against inflation run wild, coupled with Jiang Zemin’s mandate that the PLA exit most commercial activities, resulted in China’s defense spending growth beginning to pay significant dividends and the PLA finally being placed firmly on a path toward becoming a modern fighting force.

Yet even in the new millennium the actual impact of PLA spending growth may be far less impressive than the headline numbers suggest. First, after two decades of the PLA focusing like a laser on explicitly-defined strategic objectives and clearly-defined threats, a growing percentage of the defense budget pie appears to be devoted to big-ticket items that represent prestigious additions to round out a rising military power’s portfolio but may offer an increasingly elusive bang for a much larger buck. Exhibit A is China’s commissioning on September 25, 2012 of its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning. While even far less powerful navies have carriers of some sort, China had to start somewhere, and although Liaoning will be able to support a variety of peacetime missions in the near future, from a high-end warfare perspective Liaoning is likely to represent a far greater target than a targeter. Even U.S. carrier battle groups, which the U.S. has been operating for more than seven decades and which are far more advanced than anything China can hope to field anytime soon, are increasingly criticized as “big, expensive, vulnerable,”—even “irrelevant” to modern-day warfare.

Second, PLA funds are wasted on corruption and lavish functions to an extent that appear to make last year’s revelations about profligacy at the U.S. General Services Administration look like amateur hour. These problems are so severe that in November 2012 Hu Jintao warned publicly that corruption poses an existential threat to the Party and the State, and his successor Xi Jinping is ordering improved adherence to regulations in precisely these areas.

Diminishing Bang for the Buck

To be sure, rapidly-increased spending has allowed the PLA to achieve significant capability improvements; and it should be noted that even the world’s most advanced militaries are frequently on the receiving end of criticism concerning how resources are allocated. In the U.S., for example, one has only to consider recent discussions of mounting costs and potential limitations of the Littoral Combat Ship and F-35. Yet even for China competing priorities impose limits on defense-related spending.

It must likewise be acknowledged that China still has a few remaining opportunities to increase efficiency that earlier-developing states generally seized long ago. Most recently, the announcement that a unified coast guard would finally be established under the State Oceanic Administration should improve coordination and reduce organizational redundancies. Moreover, by allowing civil maritime organizations to operate more effectively in the Near Seas, China’s navy may have greater freedom tofocus more beyond. Other options open to China that other militaries are unlikely or unable to emulate include reducing or eliminating its seven military regions with their large staffs and restructuring its fleets to develop a two-ocean (Pacific and Indian) navy. However, such large and obvious targets are now the exception rather than the rule. Just as laborers’ migration from China’s countryside to cities has furthered China’s economic growth but is not unlimited, so too are areas for military restructuring.

On balance, as in so many other areas in China, progress achieved under today’s steady budget growth and resource mobilization may not be matched in the future, especially if the rate of spending slows.

Diminishing Returns, Increasing Headwinds

Looking into the future, accelerating efforts to significantly improve high-intensity combat capabilities and missions beyond the Near Seas and pursuit of platforms and policies aimed explicitly at acquiring the trappings of a military great power simply cannot deliver concrete improvements to combat capabilities at anywhere near the same level of efficiency that China’s focus on the Near Seas has heretofore. In keeping with a larger contemporary Chinese pattern, rapid military development remains the envy of the world, but technology-intensive development and—with a few notable exceptions—innovation remain elusive. With respect to approaching the leading edge in military hardware with some degree of comprehensiveness, acquisition, indigenization, and emulation of foreign technologies may clear a path toward the leading edge, but the path disappears in brambles well short of the ultimate goal.

In short, China’s previous “advantages” of being a late developer will evaporate progressively with distance, time, and level of ambition. Even if historical and other factors continue to stimulate Chinese efforts to become a military great power by capturing the imagination of the Chinese people and securing widespread domestic support; and even if leaders appeal to such a “strong nation dream” to distract the public from worsening domestic problems and thereby attempt to insulate defense from tightening government spending in coming years; technical factors will nevertheless tend to complicate and slow actual progress with respect to the development of high-end combat capabilities far from China.

Moreover, additional headwinds stem from proliferating domestic challenges that will likely impose claims on national spending priorities with which nebulous military objectives beyond the Near Seas will probably have greater difficulty competing. Especially salient are the rapidly expanding demand for social spending because of China’s slowing birthrate and an aging society beset with rising expectations and rates of chronic diseases exacerbated by yet another area where China now ranks as a world-leader: pollution. Coupled with the widely-predicted slowdown in China’s economic growth rates over the next decade, Chinese leaders will face increasingly large opportunity costs and difficult trade-offs concerning defense spending. Rising income inequality, ethno-religious tensions in strategic borderlands, and the political system’s uncertain future, have already caused China’s leaders to spend more on (domestic) “public security” than on the PLA. Domestic instability, already a primary concern of China’s leaders, may worsen in the future—particularly if there is less economic growth to otherwise bolster the Communist Party’s grip on power—and leaders may judge that public security spending requires still-greater investment.

Balance Sheet

Regardless of the headline numbers or specifics, China’s present defense spending levels afford the PLA high-end firepower in its neighborhood, posing growing potential challenges to its neighbors’ interests and America’s regional position. At the same time, however, today’s PLA remains structured and equipped to pursue only lower-end operations further afield. And no matter how Beijing’s goals expand or defense spending rises in the future, the PLA will be hard-pressed to assume an extra-regional role on a par with that of the U.S. military, whose extremely ambitious military posture is facilitated by multiple factors which China will probably never be able to replicate: developed, friendly neighbors with similar political systems; massive oceans on both sides; scores of allies and close security partners around the globe, as well as forward-deployed forces due to unique historical circumstances; abundant natural resources; and an innovative, highly-resilient and relatively young society that remains the world’s most attractive destination for the best and brightest from around the world.

Accordingly, militaries operating nearby and far from China thus effectively face different PLAs. While it deploys law enforcement and naval forces to assert its territorial and maritime claims close to home, China is also cooperating with the U.S. and other navies in the Far Seas (e.g., Gulf of Aden antipiracy operations). China’s Near Seas neighbors already feel increasingly threatened, while nations much further away have little to fear, and in fact may benefit significantly, from the PLA’s growing involvement in cooperative security.

Dr. Andrew S. Erickson is an Associate Professor in the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI). Adam P. Liff is a Doctoral Candidate in Princeton University’s Department of Politics. For further in-depth analysis by the authors of China’s defense spending and its significance, an Accepted Manuscript (AM) version of their forthcoming peer-reviewed article in The China Quarterly can be downloaded here.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
trollin4sukrz's picture

Peak oil is going to knock China's grand power play into the fvkin swamp.

markmotive's picture

Make fun of them now...but there's more of them than us. And they breath super-human air in a can.

john39's picture

i always chuckle reading articles suggesting that China is a growing military threat to world peace... meanwhile the U.S. has active milatary bases located surrounding China, on the opposite side of the world from the U.S. "homeland", and spends more on its 'defense' than probably every other country combined (despite running up annual deficeits of over a Trillion dollars these days)...   china is the threat?  good one.

Harlequin001's picture

In five years time when China is spending lots of its foreign reserves on new hardware, and America is spending lots of its newly printed money on interest payments and not on modernizing its considerable and obsolete armed forces you will ask 'how did we lose so badly and so fast? We are great aren't we?'

To think that America should be concerned at China asserting its influence in its own waters. Says it all does it not?

What would you say if the tables were turned and China was currently contemplating America asserting its influence in its own waters?

How easily the patriotic masses are lead to war by the nose...

Go Tribe's picture

And China will buy the world's armies and the world's cities. Want to do business in Africa? Then you're dealing with China's proxy armies. Latin America? Ditto. Asia? Of course. The US doesn't have the money or the manpower to compete globally. We'll be too busy and too broke keeping 20 million drooling grandmas alive with government handouts.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Q: How many drooling grandma is take for screw incandescent light bulb?

A: None, can is only get CFL bulb from China after 2010.

TwoShortPlanks's picture

Chinese QE: Buy the Western Dip.

I have a theory...suggestion. That the Chinese are buying-up property all over Australia, perhaps all over the Western World, partially using PBoC QE. Everyone thinks that they're cashed-up, but what if they're not as cashed-up as everyone thinks. What if the PBoC are filtering off-the-books QE through public channels to by Western Physical Assets. You know, we've seen this old gag a million times before; print trillions of worthless paper, convert Yuan to other currencies via international tranfer from relative to relative, buy the real deal, then, redeem/rebuild the erroded currency via Gold.

And the Chinese want what, a weak Yuan, right?!

Two birds, one stone.

Food for thought.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

Kill grammy, save the world!!

Renewable Life's picture

4.5 trillion in dollar reserves, 16,000 tones of gold they have NOT reported accurately yet to the global (IMF) overlords, more acres in agriculture or developement then all the industrial nations combined, Hong Kong, etc etc

I think the US is the one who will be knocked on its ass from peak oil!!!

trollin4sukrz's picture

Not, USA has Texas, North dakota, Alaska, Mexico and Canada.. China has ?? 

Renewable Life's picture

And with the collapse and destruction of the US dollar, who the fuck do you think will be buying all that crude in north Texas, Mexico, and Canada, cheap??

US Citizens, ya right, do Mexicans buy those shitty Nikes they manufacture everyday????? Fuck NO, they are paid in pesos, the golden rule will apply to this situation as it has thru out history, the ones with the gold, make the rules, and if you think the US isn't tapped out, your dillusional or dreaming, or both!!!!! China has purchased more physical gold in the last 5 years, then it took the US 200 years to "build up" ( of course no one has seen these gold reserves in 50 years, but you sound like the type that trusts it's there, because government can be trusted, right?)

Hey but don't believe me, ask an Australian what kind of demand for physical resources China has been hoarding!

GFKjunior's picture

What are you talking about, China does not even have enough arable land for their current population.


China will become the worlds largest agriculture importer:


Renewable Life's picture

Have you ever heard of Three Gorges Damn, the biggest hydro electric generation project on the planet earth, they drained and put under flood control more acres with that project, then three Central California's combined, they just havent started growing shit on it yet, because if China has a fatal flaw it will be their centrally planned government, but the capasity is there! Dont believe what the western media is feeding you about China, do they have problems, absolutely, i just mentioned there biggest one, pollution is another, but if you havent been there and seen what is going on, your missing the big picture!  

Americans are singing and dancing on the deck of the Titanic, minutes before we hit the iceberg, pointing out, how inferior the Chinese vessal is next to us, as it sails by on its way to safely docking at its destination! Whatever problems China has, they pale in comparison to the reality of what America faces both domestically and abroad in the next 5 years! A constitutional crisis is brewing in America, and it will manifest itself soon, either with the sessession of a group of States or a complete shutdown of the Government due to budgetary comgressional activism, or both! But regardless, this will usher in the kind of chaos we havent seen in this Country since 1860 and 1930!  

China will be chuckling, you can bet on that!

fudge's picture

but if you havent been there and seen what is going on, your missing the big picture

And therein lies the problem,

China will be chuckling, you can bet on that!

LoL .. truth right ^^ there.


zorba THE GREEK's picture

Having a strong military is a key part of having a currency to replace the petro-dollar.

Charles Nelson Reilly's picture

Too bad there will be no oil left by the time they're ready to do away with the petrodollar. They're a few decades late to the gang bang.

TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

I just hope the Chinese get a chance to test their military really soon.

I wanna know how good their military is, and how good their hardware holds up.

NoClueSneaker's picture

The swarms of unstoppable Dyperkaze will push Chinese to Sibera . Abe will obliterate them ....

Kayman's picture

Japan has the bomb. Israel did the testing.

matrix2012's picture

United States Circumvented Laws To Help Japan Accumulate Tons of Plutonium

The United States deliberately allowed Japan access to the United States’ most secret nuclear weapons facilities while it transferred tens of billions of dollars worth of American tax paid research that has allowed Japan to amass 70 tons of weapons grade plutonium since the 1980s, a National Security News Service investigation reveals. These activities repeatedly violated U.S. laws regarding controls of sensitive nuclear materials that could be diverted to weapons programs in Japan. The NSNS investigation found that the United States has known about a secret nuclear weapons program in Japan since the 1960s, according to CIA reports.

A year ago a natural disaster combined with a man-made tragedy decimated Northern Japan and came close to making Tokyo, a city of 30 million people, uninhabitable. Nuclear tragedies plague Japan’s modern history. It is the only nation in the world attacked with nuclear weapons. In March 2011, after a tsunami swept on shore, hydrogen explosions and the subsequent meltdowns of three reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant spewed radiation across the region. Like the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan will face the aftermath for generations. A twelve-mile area around the site is considered uninhabitable. It is a national sacrifice zone.

How Japan ended up in this nuclear nightmare is a subject the National Security News Service has been investigating since 1991. We learned that Japan had a DUAL USE nuclear program. The public program was to develop and provide unlimited energy for the country. But there was also a secret component, an undeclared nuclear weapons program that would allow Japan to amass enough nuclear material and technology to become a major nuclear power on short notice.

That secret effort was hidden in a nuclear power program that by March 11, 2011– the day the earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant – had amassed 70 metric tons of plutonium. Like its use of civilian nuclear power to hide a secret bomb program, Japan used peaceful space exploration as a cover for developing sophisticated nuclear weapons delivery systems.

Political leaders in Japan understood that the only way the Japanese people could be convinced to allow nuclear power into their lives was if a long line of governments and industry hid any military application. For that reason, a succession of Japanese governments colluded on a bomb program disguised as innocent energy and civil space programs. The irony, of course, is that Japan had gone to war in 1941 to secure its energy future only to become the sole nation attacked with nuclear weapons.




"Japan has the bomb. Israel did the testing." ==> WELL PHRASED!!


for the ZHers who missed the related story, here's a fascinating read...

Regarding Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Jim Stone runs a very interesting article on it nicked as 'FUKUSHIMA REPORT' (contains lots of pictures and other data and analyses incl. links), claimed that Magna BSP's security cameras (which weighed over 1,000 pounds each) are the culprits. Basically he accused that the explosion was a CONTROLLED event!

Well, just for curious mind, go for it and read on your own the lengthy and elaborate article.


kliguy38's picture

Just in the nick of time for GDP boost .......a good ol fashioned arm's race......Just as the cabal ordered......start a shooting war and it goes HOT HOT HOT.......rally round the flag boyz

The Heart's picture


Someone is noticing that the American people are in the middle of two adversaries that both seek the same goal. The complete subjugation and possibly, elimination of the American people. How darn horrid that our govt is planning war against harmless innocent citizens, while at the same time china is planning on taking full advantage of the chaos once it is set into motion on some Friday, or after some kind of false flag event, or worse, an attack on innocent Iran to start the world war cycle all over again. Geeze, now you have to wonder what the crazy in N. Korea is going to next also.

The amazing lock step similarities are glaringly blinding to even the most dense of blinded thinkers and conscious souls. The globalists have set up America to be this century's nazi-germany, and the rest of the world is dang sick and tired of the world domination bankster BS war for the profits of a few. The funny thing is, so are most Americans. The cage door that has been slowly closing is almost complete.

We endeavor on knowing that there is at least one soul here on ZH that can actually change it all for the better of all. That would be the hundredth monkey waking up and just saying NO MORE!

Radical Marijuana's picture

The irony that American payments on its financial debts to China are enough to pay for China's military programs should not be ignored. The real enemy of America is NOT China, but rather the international banksters that have been playing all sides off against each other for quite a while, and have been able to systematically take back control of America from more than a Century. That is why the American people have ended up so in debt to China that Americans are paying for the Chinese military to develop itself!

I think the following article provides important perspectives regarding superficial political issues like those which appear as old-fashioned struggles for power between countries:

Killing America, By Preston James, March 6, 2013.

disabledvet's picture

if the only purpose is to piss off your neighbors then i would argue it is not money well spent. granted "we all look forward to the woman with the red dress on" but still...China has not learned the lesson of Japan and "checkbook diplomacy" in my view. The USA as well (in my view) be very wary about going full on Clash of Civilizations. One could discern the failing of the Bush Doctrine "the fact that it didn't go far enough." For the record i'm not one of those people. Don't get me wrong...i still think the USA in general and DC in particular would be well served to have parades such as this:

akak's picture

Never underestimate the military determination of the Chinese ruling elite.

I mean, damn, just look at today's successful test of their new "Heavenly Swine" riverborne mines disguised as floating pigs!  Western military analysts NEVER saw that one coming!

Jam Akin's picture

Too bad this article wasn't accompanied by a map showing all US forces deployed on China's periphery.  If the roles were reversed, the US would be building up its military as quickly as possible.

bilejones's picture

There's always some fuckwit finding the next reason to loot the US taxpayer.

Jam Akin's picture

Exactly:  The "China threat" is the perfect antidote to the real threat (to DoD) of fiscal cliff sequester.

prains's picture

DoD budget for weapon R&D +$77 Billion


DoEnergy budget for R&D $ 3 Billion


nice priorities, very forward looking for a prosperous future


Bicycle Repairman's picture

DOD budget + DOE budget = DOD budget + "secret" DOD budget.

Monedas's picture

I think Mexico has more soldiers than the US .... about 750,000 .... they're everywhere .... this place would be an even bigger zoo .... without them .... at the checkpoints .... they address me as "Caballero" .... they are polite, well equipped and disciplined .... they are like a national police force .... they help out in natural disasters .... just saying !  A battalion sized convoy passed near my house last week .... headed for the mountains .... all brand new Mercedes Benz trucks .... made in Toluca .... they have real rifles .... SKS ? 7.62 mm .... not 22 cal toys that jam !

Bicycle Repairman's picture

All that "security" and to think that Mexico is still a shithole.  I know, "not enough soldiers".

sangell's picture

Personel expenses account for over half the US defense budget so direct comparisons with the Chinese defense budget may need to take that into account. That said, China has no real allies but plenty of potential enemies. Looking at the world from their POV they are basically surrounded by the US and its allies. Even the states not formally allied with the US such as Vietnam or, even Indonesia, do not want to see  Chinese hegemony in the Pacific. Chinese attempts to gain access to , say, naval facilities in Pakistan create problems with India so it may well be that China can never enjoy the geo-political freedom the US has.

tony bonn's picture

another neocon war mongerer channeling the carcass of norman podhoretz....this kind of drivel could be read monthly in commentary magazine going back at least to carter administration....there is always some bogeyman needing an extra trillion in defense expenditures and another nazi organization needed to "protect" us....

fuck you andrew and your toady....i am sure that you have a hotline to dick cheney and donald rumsefeld's rectum....

suteibu's picture

I always think it kind of hypocritical for the US to complain about China's lack of military spending transparency.  Hell, Americans don't know what their military is spending money on half of the time and most of them don't care.

Mr. Hudson's picture

I'm more worried about hog meat that was thrown in the Shanghai River ending up in a pork dish at my favorite Chinese buffet!

MrPalladium's picture

When you adjust for differing wage levels between China and the U.S. it becomes clear that China is spending about as much on military research and hardware as the U.S. And don't forget that they are smart enough not to fritter away trillions fighting rediculous wars (killing illiterate peasants) in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and now Africa.

But if projecting power world wide means frittering away trillions of dollars in foreign adventures that yield no gain or increase in security, then the U.S. is indeed the champ.

The authors of the article clearly do not see reality, and have no ability to focus on the relevance of expenditure levels to lasting economic and security benefits. In that department the Chinese are the clear champs. 

matrix2012's picture

The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases

The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel

This important analysis and review of US military might by distinguished Canadian geographer Professor Jules Dufour was first published by Global Research in 2007.

The Worldwide control of humanity’s economic, social and political activities is under the helm of US corporate and military power. Underlying this process are various schemes of direct and indirect military intervention. These US sponsored strategies ultimately consist in a process of global subordination.


Where is the Threat?

The 2000 Global Report published in 1980 had outlined “the State of the World” by focussing on so-called  “level of threats” which might negatively influence or undermine US interests.

Twenty years later, US strategists, in an attempt to justify their military interventions in different parts of the World, have conceptualised the greatest fraud in US history, namely “the Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT). The latter, using a fabricated pretext  constitutes a global war against all those who oppose US hegemony. A modern form of slavery, instrumented through militarization and the “free market” has unfolded.


Major elements of the conquest and world domination strategy by the US refer to:

-the control of the world economy and its financial markets,

-Geopolitical Outreach: Network of Military Bases

-More than 1000 US Bases and/or Military Installations

The main sources of information on these military installations (e.g. C. Johnson, the NATO Watch Committee, the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases) reveal that the US operates and/or controls between 700 and 800 military bases Worldwide.

In this regard, Hugh d’Andrade and Bob Wing’s 2002 Map 1 entitled “U.S. Military Troops and Bases around the World, The Cost of ‘Permanent War’”, confirms the presence of US military personnel in 156 countries.

The US Military has bases in 63 countries. Brand new military bases have been built since September 11, 2001 in seven countries.

In total, there are 255,065 US military personnel deployed Worldwide.

These facilities include a total of 845,441 different buildings and equipments. The underlying land surface is of the order of 30 million acres. According to Gelman, who examined 2005 official Pentagon data, the US is thought to own a total of 737 bases in foreign lands. Adding to the bases inside U.S. territory, the total land area occupied by US military bases domestically within the US and internationally is of the order of 2,202,735 hectares, which makes the Pentagon one of the largest landowners worldwide (Gelman, J., 2007).


-The Surface of the Earth is Structured as a Wide Battlefield

-The Operational Cost of the Worldwide Military Network

US defense spending (excluding the costs of the Iraq war) have increased from 404 in 2001 to 626 billion dollars in 2007 according to data from the Washington based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. US defense spending is expected to reach 640 billion dollars in 2008.

-US Military Bases to Protect Strategic Energy Resources

In the wake of 9/11, Washington initiated its ”Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Other countries, which were not faithfully obeying Washington’s directives including Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela have been earmarked for possible US military intervention.

Washington keeps a close eye on countries opposed to US corporate control over their resources. Washington also targets countries where there are popular resistance movements directed against US interests, particularly in South America. In this context, President Bush made a quick tour to Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico «to promote democracy and trade» but also with a view to ultimately curbing and restraining popular dissent to the US interests in the region...


-Military Bases Used for the Control of Strategic Renewable Resources

Washington has signed an agreement to build a military base in Djibouti (Manfredi, E., 2007). All these initiatives are a part of an overall plan to install a series of military bases geographically located in a West-East corridor extending from Colombia in South America, to North Africa, the Near East, Central Asia and as far as the Philippines (Johnson, C., 2004). The US bases in South American are related to the control and access to the extensive natural biological , mineral and water resources resources of the Amazon Basin. (Delgado Jara, D., 2006 and Maps 9 and 10).



This article has focussed on the Worldwide development of US military power.

The US tends to view the Earth surface as a vast territory to conquer, occupy and exploit. The fact that the US Military splits the World up into geographic command units vividly illustrates this underlying geopolitical reality.

Humanity is being controlled  and enslaved by this Network of US military bases. .

The ongoing re-deployment of US troops and military bases has to be analyzed in a thorough manner if we wish to understand the nature of US interventionism  in different regions of the World.

This militarization process is characterized by armed aggression and warfare, as well as interventions called “cooperation agreements”. The latter reaffirmed America’s economic design design in the areas of trade and investment practices. Economic development is ensured through the miniaturization or the control of governments and organizations. Vast resources are thereby expended and wasted in order to allow such control to be effective, particularly  in regions which have a strategic potential in terms of wealth and resources and which are being used to consolidate the Empire’s structures and functions.

The setting up of the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases turns out to be an extraordinary means to oppose the miniaturization process of the Planet. Such Network is indispensable and its growth depends on a commitment of all the People of the World. It will be extremely difficult to mobilize them, but the ties built up by the Network among its constituent resistance movements are a positive element, which is ultmately conducive to more cohesive and coordinated battle at the World level.

The Final Declaration of the Second International Conference against Foreign Military Bases which was held in Havana in November 2005 and was endorsed by delegates from 22 countries identifies most of the major issues, which confront mankind. This Declaration constitutes a major peace initative. It establishes  international solidarity in the process of  disarmament...


* * * * * * * * *


U.S. military bases around the world: graphic (Graphical illustration)

Despite the pending troop withdrawals in Iraq and those in Afghanistan between now and 2014, the United States remains a superpower on a scale not seen since the days of the Caesars.




Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Impressive research.  Pity that the attention span or most readers did not last, judging by the number of arrows.

Stuck on Zero's picture

China doesn't need a military to destroy the US.  Congress will see to that.


Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Is the Congress destroying the US, or (inadvertently) its fraudulent/Ponzi monetary system?

casfoto's picture

We have built up Chinas military...what do you expect.? It was corporate GREED that helped build their military. All our industry went to China looking for a BARGIN and they got it. Or at least corporate America go it for the short term. They made billions off the backs of the laboring Chinese........just like they made billions off of the backs of the people in the USA and then dropped us off to go to greener pastures? Is corporate PFiser, GE, GM, EXXON, Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, JP MOrgan, SAC, and etc etc going to defend our country from the great hordes of the East. No, the common man will be told that he needs to be patriotic once again to protect our homeland from the hordes of the great undwashed coming to take our country. Smedly Butler said it right....and that was after what he did for corporate America....the only JUST WAR is a defensive war. But we have really gone astray on that one for years now. Our wars are for profit of the few with the lives of the many.

China has always been the biggest country and most dominant power in the world for eons. They lost that power momentarlly. They are now getting it back,same with India. The population that is in these countries speak for itself. The US is roughly 314million people that are a multitude of arguing races. In China they are all yellow with black hair and in India they are of one race basically and you are looking at 2.6 Billion people. So we have armed them with the ideas and the know how and soon they will be at our throats. Just think, these people are not stupid. As a matter of fact, lets just take the top 10% of their intellect and we are talking about 260 million people. That is almost what our country has as a population. And we are not replacing our selves....just as europe is not replacing their population.

The hypocritcal crap about calling China and other countries " currency manipulators"  or that they hide their military updates is just a pile fo crap. We have been doing it for years. We never tell our adverserys what we are doing."Skunk Works"???? We are the masters of currency manipulation. So, the bullshit that we are hearing about other countries hegemony is just that..bullshit. When Russia started supplying Cuba with missile's.....what did Kennedy do? What do you expect China to do? Especially with the history of what Japan did to the Chinese during WW2! And that Japan is our patsy. And that our ally now is broke and all but finished.

We should prepare our people for the huge battle that is coming. The battle should include the children and their childrens children of the leaders of this country. We should be led into battle by Hank Greenberg, the head of GM, Mr Welch of GE,  Mr Greenspan, Mr Cheney, Mr Bush, Mr Cohen, The Koch brothers and all their heirs, Donald Rumsfeld and his family, Mr Bill Kristol and Mr Wolfowitz and all the neocons, all of congress and the senate of our country. All the leaders of our TBTF Banks and insurance companies. Come gather while Arjuna walks the battlefield and talks with Krishna as they drive in their chariot looking at both sides of the horror that is about to befell them.

Cardinal Fang's picture

Ahh, the Naval War College's analysis of relative cannon fodder quality.

matrix2012's picture

@ casfoto

"When Russia started supplying Cuba with missile's.....what did Kennedy do?"

just some addition to your above GREAT info, USSR despatch of nuke head missile in Cuba was a response to USA's earlier action to place nuke head missiles in TURKEY threatening the USSR. Just verify the real history ;)

lolmao500's picture

If you compare the Chinese military budget PPP to the US... there's actually not a big gap...

MeBizarro's picture

If the Chinese are smart, they will avoid the mistakes the Germans made in getting involved in a direct conflict with the British through a proxy during WWI. If the Germans had been content to just let economic and technological trends that had been in place since the 1880s, they would have been in the driver's seat eventually in Europe.

Chinese are in a very similar position right now with the US especially in regards to US naval strength. Seemingly overwhelmingly dominant on paper but the gap is less than perceived especially if the US Navy is forced to operate within 200-300 miles of the Chinese coat.

The Chinese should keep doing what they gave been locking up hard assets through financing and friendly development terms while avoiding the US mistake of direct military involvement and expense of foreign military bases. It allows the US to project unprecedented global military power but only as long as it can afford to. Sooner than later in the best future this wont be the case.

US military is already hollowing out due to the epic levels of cronyism in the contracting and procurement system but the real thing that will sink it will be the legacy costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts thinks to Bush and the imbecile neocons.

China just has to sit back, play conservatively, and not be goaded into foolish rhetoric or even worse a direct military conflict with the US.

daedon's picture

For every yuan the Chinese spend on military technology, they get a yuan's worth. For every dollar America spends on military, it also gets a yuan's worth.