Fact-check: Chinese military threat? What to know about China's military development

(People's Daily Online) 13:24, June 02, 2023

Anyone attuned to the bombast rhetoric in Western society, would recognize these familiar arguments: China's military spending is excessively large; China is embroiled in an arms race with the U.S.; China's military expansion seeks to reshape the global order. Recently, a narrative portraying China's military development as a looming dominant force in Asia has gained popularity among Western media and politicians.

The question arises: Is the "Chinese military threat," amplified by certain Western politicians and media channels, based on solid grounds? Here are the facts collected by People's Daily Online.

Is China's military expenditure excessively large?

In March 2023, China announced a 7.2-percent increase in its defense budget, up slightly from last year's 7.1-percent increase. Unsurprisingly, this increase in China's military spending, which has long been the focus of Western scrutiny, drew widespread criticism from Western politicians and media outlets. They argue that China is spending too much on its military development. But is that true?

A country's defense expenditure is determined by various factors, including the demands of national defense, the size of its economy and its defense policy. As the world's second-largest economy and the most populous country with a vast land area, China is tasked with maintaining a substantial land border and navigating a complex maritime security environment. The increase in China's defense budget is appropriate and reasonable, considering the growth required to meet complex security challenges and for China to uphold its responsibilities as a major country.

Even Western media conceded that the Chinese military budget remains below the global average, accounting for approximately 1.2 percent of national output.

China's planned defense spending in 2023 will be 1.55 trillion yuan ($224.79 billion U.S. dollars), which is only around one-quarter of U.S. military expenditure, projected to be $858 billion in 2023. On a per-capita basis, China's defense spending is only one-sixteenth of that of the United States.

The U.S. military expenditure ranks first in the world, accounting for over 40 percent of the world's total and equivalent to the combined military spending of the next 15 countries behind it.


(Web editor: Wu Chaolan, Wu Chengliang)


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