China has celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule by holding a massive military parade in Tiananmen Square in front of past and present leaders. Even though the event has been somewhat overshadowed by protests in Hong Kong, it still allowed China to showcase its technological achievements and newfound military prowess. 15,000 soldiers marched in the parade, accompanied by tanks, artillery pieces and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, as well as a military flyover.
China has increased investment in its military in recent years, seeking to replace its outdated Soviet equipment and turn the PLA into a state-of-the-art force by 2049.
As Statista's Nialll McCarthy notes, the push for modernization occurred at the same time the United States was mired in two bloody conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even though no country comes close to matching U.S. military expenditure which came to $649 billion last year (China was second with $250 billion), Beijing had the highest increase of any country by far between 2009 and 2018, according to Sipri.
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During that timeframe, China upped its expenditure by 83 percent and the results of that could be seen on the streets of Beijing during the parade. Even Saudi Arabia, which has been splurging on military equipment for years, "only" increased its military spending by 28 percent during the same period. Russia is also in the midst of a modernization drive and its spending increased 29 percent since 2009.
Meanwhile, U.S. military spending has fallen 17 percent over the past decade, a downward trend President Trump is keen to halt amid the push for modernization and expansion in both Beijing and Moscow.