How much is Chinese defense spending really going up?

I don’t feel I have gotten to the bottom of this, but here is an interesting contrarian perspective:

“According to my records, 2013 is the second year in a row in which China’s actual defense spending wound up being significantly less than was announced at the beginning of the year,” said Roger Cliff, senior fellow with the Asia Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

“The announced budget in March 2013 was … an increase of 10.7 percent over 2012. Actual expenditure in 2013 was … an increase of only 7.6 percent over 2012.”

The announced increases also never account for inflation, Cliff said. “Inflation in 2013 was expected to be 3.2 percent, official inflation figures for 2013 haven’t been released yet, as far as I know, so the increase in defense spending from 2012 to 2013 was only 4.3 percent in real terms.

“In fact, since 2009, China’s defense budget has grown by an average of only 4.7 percent in real terms,” Cliff said. “And yet, because the increases are always announced in nominal terms, not real terms, and the budgets announced at the beginning of the year have been exceeding the amount actually spent, everyone is still talking about ‘annual double-digit increases in China’s defense spending.’ ”

The full article is here.


There is no mystery about the Chinese military budget - the mystery is why the American defense budget is so large.

Well, unless one adopts the idea one can never be too cynical about the American military-industrial complex.

Go on, explain why a country with no real external threats is spending so much.

American spending is utterly incompetent and perhaps corrupt. That is why the US spends so much and gets so little. Not to mention the costs of an All Volunteer force grow and grow and grow.

Because Americans are warmongers, of course. They have been pretty much constantly at war for the last 70+ years, why should they stop now? If you go to war, you need a big "defense" budget.

America's grand strategy:

Invade the world
Invite the world
In debt to the world

Maybe the US should just outsource their military to China. They've already handed over the means of production in the quest to become a service economy. (Perhaps they can serve the enemy to death?)

Yeah, they only produce $2.5 trillion of manuafactured goods each year, good point

Mainly because the United States has the world's largest economy, partly because we (somewhat inexplicably, in the eyes of much of the world) promised to protect countries like Japan and Germany after they did horrible things with their own militaries, and partly because AMERICA FUCK YEAH!!

Easy enough to solve. Charge a fee. Maybe as economists love to propose so much, open up spots for countries willing to "bid" for the privilege of being under the US defense umbrella. After all, aren't auctions the most efficient way for a seller to extract value?

The U.S. received $53 billion from Japan and the Gulf States for winning the 1991 Gulf War. According to some estimates, America turned a profit on the war.

We promised to protect Japan and Germany *because* they did horrible things with their own militaries. If only America could somehow manage to become "burdened" by also needing to protect China and Russia...

Perhaps in reality the Party is more fearful towards the army than the Americans, who would in consequence have had it wrong all the time concerning Chinese rearmament & threats to Taiwan.

If an estimare of real Chinese military spending comes from within our own defense sector, it will be very high.

Did you know 180,000 Americans have been murdered by terrorists since 9/11? drunk drivers and they are a terror...

A more useful question would be "How much is Chinese defense capability really going up?" It's entirely possible that the US and China get a different amount of defense per dollar, for reasons of efficiency, the need for pork and favors in a democracy, and diminishing returns to scale.

I doubt it matters. They still have all the problems typical of non-Western militaries, such as being massively corrupt enterprises primarily engaged in funneling money to Party apparatchiks, plus they're getting really old really fast.

Back around 20-25 years ago, there was a horrific disco fire in China with hundreds of people dying because the club was too packed for the number of exits. This was a violation of local fire codes, but fire codes weren't enforced on discos because all the discos in China at that time were owned by the People's Liberation Army.

I haven't been following the Chinese military-disco complex since then, but has there been a cultural revolution in the military in which China's best young men join today because they want to defeat America or are they still getting the kind of recruit who wants to become a disco owner?

I expect the PLA is big enough for both kinds.

It would seem like having a large fraction of your military officers be corrupt would do major damage to your morale. Notice that China doesn't have a lot of potential opponents -- the U.S., Taiwan, Vietnam, Russia, Japan, either Korea, India -- who are obvious pushovers the way that Israel has been blessed with non-formidable enemies. Don't get into a land war in Asia is a byword among Americans, and it probably is too among Chinese.

The society has progressed nicely from basket-case Maoism to banana republicanism. It's really quite admirable really, and I mean that quite seriously, its a huge leap in living standards for a billion people, but this model has inherent limitations.

Chinese media are reporting on a rare publicized case of corruption in the army leadership. A Chinese general in charge of army logistics allegedly abused his power to amass dozens of homes, gold statues and expensive wine.

The message is clear: you better pay off the right people. Also, 6 homes is more than enough. He just got greedy.

The Chinese do occasionally shoot a corrupt official to encourage the others, which certainly doesn't happen here. In the U.S., Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide got fined about 1/5th of the money he made during the subprime bubble, and corporate insurance covered most of that for him.

The amount of money spent by China is almost immaterial. What matters is the quantity and quality of what they purchase. Granted those attributes are much more subjective.

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