China to Pentagon: Right Back Atcha

Funny how on the same day that the Pentagon released its annual China Military Report, the Chinese announced plans to raise defense spending by 17% next year. Here’s the takeaway from the Executive Summary of the Pentagon report:

China’s ability to sustain military power at a distance remains limited but, as noted in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, it “has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages.” China’s near-term focus on preparing for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, including the possibility of U.S. intervention, is an important driver of its modernization. However, analysis of China’s military acquisitions and strategic thinking suggests Beijing is also developing capabilities for use in other contingencies, such as conflict over resources or disputed territories. . .

The lack of transparency in China’s military and security affairs poses risks to stability by increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation. This situation will naturally and understandably lead to hedging against the unknown.

Chinese military spending is considered to be larger than official budget estimates, but still pales in comparison to American defense spending. That highlights the way in which American emphasis on military dominance and technological superiority encourages the development of lower-cost asymmetrical strategic responses by our rivals. That should change, however, if China really begins to develop its force projection capabilities.

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