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China Has The Second Largest Defense Budget After The U.S.: An 8% Increase Is Expected For 2018

ArmchairTechInvestor, March 7, 2018, by Brad Peery

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China’s defense budget is expected to reach $173 billion in 2018, compared to $716 billion expected for the U.S. in 2019. 2018’s defense budget comes to about 1.3% of its 2017 GDP of $12.4 trillion. Analysts don’t consider China’s publicly announced defense spending to be entirely accurate, since defense equipment projects account for a significant amount of “off book” expenditures.

China’s defense budget is so large now that double-digit annual percentage increases are no longer necessary, said military commentator Song Zhongping.

New funds are going mainly to raise living standards for service members, increase training and prepare for potential crises on the Korean Peninsula, the border with India or in the South China Sea or Taiwan Strait, Song said.

China is nearing completion of a reduction of its military forces by 300,000, taking the total to 2 million and still has the largest military in the world.

Shanghai military expert Ni Lexiong said China was seeking to avoid a full-on arms race based on quantity of weapons, choosing instead to invest in high-tech systems and training. China’s range of weapons is impressive. They have:
• A second aircraft carrier they are about to launch;
• Stealth fighters they are integrating into their air force;
• An array of advanced missiles that are long-range and able to attack sea and air targets;
• China’s navy has been training rigorously on the Liaoning aircraft carrier, which was bought from Ukraine and heavily refurbished.
• In April, 2017, it launched a 50,000-ton carrier built entirely on its own based on the Ukrainian model.
• An improved Type 093B Shang class nuclear-powered attack submarine equipped with anti-ship missiles is considered only slightly inferior to the U.S. Navy’s mainstay Los Angeles class boats;
• The Type 055 guided-missile destroyers are at the forefront of China’s naval technology;
o Such vessels stand to alter the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, where the U.S. Navy has long been dominant and regional rivals such as Japan and India are stepping up their presence.
o Most navy ships already have anti-ship cruise missiles with longer ranges than those of their U.S. counterparts.
• China has begun equipping combat units with its J-20 stealth fighter jet,
o This is China’s answer to fifth-generation jets such as the U.S. F-22 and F-35;
• China’s missile technology is also impressive;
o The DF-21D is built to take out an aircraft carrier; and
o A new air-to-air missile has a range of 249 miles that could attack U.S. air assets such as early warning aircraft and refueling tankers crucial to U.S. Air Force operations.

All three of China’s sea forces, the navy, coast guard and maritime militia, are the largest of their types by number of ships, allowing them to “maintain presence and influence in vital seas,” according to Andrew S. Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute.

Rivals such as the U.S., Japan and India should be less anxious at the moderate rate of budget growth, although they “won’t feel happy” to see rapid enhancements in China’s air, naval, missile and anti-satellite capabilities, said Ni, a professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.
*No. 2 spender China to boost defense spending in 2018
Associated Press, By Christopher Bodeen, Mar 5, 2018

ArmchairTechInvestor Opinion

China has a wide range of both defensive and offensive weapons systems. Their navy is predicated on having a large number of smaller ships. The U.S. is moving its navy in that direction. The U.S. has a huge superiority in aircraft carriers, which serves the U.S. well in operating in Asia, and somewhat offsets China’s land-based aircraft presence.

The U.S. is also far superior in its space-based weapons systems being developed by NASA, and a range of commercial competitors, such as Space-X. U.S. space technology allows the Space Station to be accessed, and Space-X has plans for a Mars mission that it hopes will be developed by 2024.

Space-based weapons systems will become an important element of future U.S. defense capabilities.

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