Daily Management Review

Should We Be Afraid of Military Increase in China?


China ranks second in the world in terms of spending on the armed forces (the first is the United States). Last year, Beijing spent 188 billion dollars on the needs of the army. China's defense budget is increasing every year. Let's try to understand why this is so and should we wait for a slowdown in military spending of China or not.

The increase in 2015 China's defense budget by 10.1 percent by the standards of the past ten years is relatively modest - for example, the increase accounted 17.8 percent in 2007, and in 2008 - 17.6 per cent. The lowest rate was recorded in 2010, when defense spending rose by 7.5 percent. China has entered a period of double-digit growth of the military budget in the second half of the 1990s. In nominal dollar terms the corresponding expenditure increased from 30 billion to almost $ 120 billion from 2000 to 2010. In real terms, the official military budget of China is growing as a whole at the same rate as GDP. For example, from 2001 to 2011, according to estimates of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Chinese military budget has increased by an average of 10.3 percent per year, with an average GDP growth of 10.4 percent.

It is known that China's official military budget does not include a number of important items of expenditure affecting the defense. For example, R & D of new weapons is funded by the Ministries of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Science and Technology (production models of weapons are purchased from the military budget). In addition, the military budget pays off a significant part of the costs for maintenance and training reserve forces and welfare of ex-servicemen. Therefore, it is possible that the country's total military spending increased slightly faster than GDP. But in general there is no reason to believe that the Chinese are sharply increasing their share of military spending or to mobilize resources to military tasks.

Why China should ever increase spending on defense and not be confined to a more modest military funding? There are several reasons. The first - the enormous scale of the 1980s and 1990th backlog in the deferred expenses in the sphere of technical re-equipment of the army.

The physical peak in production of heavy weapons systems such as tanks, artillery systems, armored vehicles and combat aircraft in China comes at a time of strained relations with the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. In many areas of performance, weapons and ammunition issue, made then, never has been exceeded. In the 1980s, there was a sharp decline in the state defense order - the Chinese government concentrated resources on solving economic and infrastructure problems. Thus, until the mid-1990s, the Chinese defense industry has gone through its one and half "hungry decade".

For many types of weapons and military equipment, the Chinese army is still dependent on systems that are not only designed but also produced during the life of Chairman Mao. It is still often possible to meet the Type 59 tanks (the local version of the Soviet T-54A), gun-howitzer Type 66 (Soviet D-20), 57-mm anti-aircraft guns Type 59 (Soviet S-60) Type 63 armored personnel carriers, and similar rarities on the photo and video reports from Chinese media of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) exercises. Yes, every year these antique weapons get less in number, but China is probably the last major military-industrial power, where this technique is still used on a large scale.

Developed Western countries and Russia rely heavily on military and technical legacy of the last period of the Cold War. Technics of the 1980s - early 1990s issue often saves value from a military point of view and requires only repair and modernization of e-filling. China curtailed military mass production for a decade before the Cold War and also initially was among the laggards in the field of military technology. Where Russian, Americans and Europeans can restrict modernization of technology, the Chinese should develop new models from scratch and replace with them antique ones, inherited from the era of mobilization economy.

Moreover, many of the most promising Russian and American military developments are based on the technological reserve left over from the confrontation between the USSR and NATO. This applies, for example, to military space, aircraft with low radar signature, systems and missile defense, laser weapons, nuclear submarines and a large number of other types of equipment. China has no such backlog. Not to become completely military hopeless, the Chinese in the 1990s and 2000s created the whole sector of the defense industry, science and engineering school from scratch. These costs are, anyway, were laid in the cost of PLA weapons.

Another area where China has to offset the effects of long-term savings in the military sphere - material support and training of personnel. PLA has historically combined the military functions with a variety of non-military, economic. In an era of reform, the army won the right to open their own businesses and become the owner of a vast business empire that included industry, trade, financial and investment companies, hotel chains and restaurants.

At a certain period, it allowed the government to hold the military costs low with cost reduction and increasing corruption in PLA. Only in 1998, against a background of already begun rapid growth in military spending, China's President Jiang Zemin was able to order the Army to curtail business. At the same time, despite the presence of an army of business and the emerging growth of military spending, China's military allowance is far below the level of wages in the national economy.

Judging by the available Chinese publications, another area where the catch-up is found - training. Until the 2000s, Chinese Air Force had low average annual flying pilots rates, warships were rarely put to sea, and ground forces carried out large-scale maneuvers infrequently. Naturally, China is seeking to gradually bring it all to the level of developed countries such as the US and Japan. Average plaque pilots of combat aircraft, according to most estimates, is now in the range of 100-150 hours per year, in parts, equipped with modern technology, it may exceed 200 hours per year. The Navy has increased the number of long-haul trips and for several years constantly rests off the coast of Somalia, where it participates in international anti-piracy operations. Chinese warships have expanded the geography of his visits up to Latin America. At the same time, the scale of the global military presence of China is still significantly inferior to France and the UK - albeit for its role in the global economy, and weight in international affairs, China has already surpassed these countries.

The growth of Chinese military spending and increasing the technical capabilities of the PLA - a natural and inevitable process. It would be absurd to expect that the new economic superpower of the modern world remained a military dwarf, and its army continued to use Soviet military technology sample 1950-60-ies. The military rise of China with some delay is following the growth of Chinese economic power. The world has generally accepted the transformation of China into one of the centers of the global economy, so we'll have to accept it and the new Chinese military superpower.

source: lenta