Hyping up China's military spending, US-led West lost in Cold War mentality

China Military Online
Wang Xinjuan
2022-03-11 20:58:19

By Tang Hua

On the morning of March 5, the government budget draft submitted by the Ministry of Finance to the National People’s Congress (NPC) was released, capturing domestic and international attention. Some foreign media just never stopped surprising us with their “artful” angle. Turning a blind eye to the massive increase of expenditure in such livelihood areas as education and health, they are only focused on the slight rise in military spending.

Foreign media reported that this is the first time since 2019 that China’s military budget grows more than 7%, the highest rate in nearly three years. This is a perfect excuse for them to insidiously hype up China’s military buildup and fan up a new round of “China threat” theory.

According to the draft, China’s 2022 military budget stands at RMB 1.45 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 7.1%, or 0.3 percentage point higher than a year before. This is not a big figure either compared with China’s military budget in previous years or with other countries.

Vertically, the 7.1% growth rate is indeed a three-year new high (6.6% in 2020 and 6.8% in 2021). However, we cannot forget the fact that in the past two years, China spent enormous resources on responding to the COVID-19 epidemic, which would definitely squeeze allocations for other areas, including defense. Since 2016, Chinese military budget has maintained a growth rate between 6.6% and 8.1%, averaging around 7.2% over seven years. Foreign media’s cherry-picking of the recent three-year data is obviously ill-intended.

Laterally, China registered a GDP of RMB 114 trillion in 2021, which means the military budget of RMB1.45 trillion accounts for just 1.27% of GDP, quite moderate considering many countries have a military spending that makes up about 2% of their GDP.

On the other hand, America’s military spending, which is already 40% of the global total, continues to grow at a high speed, with the defense budget reaching $753 billion in fiscal year 2022. Analysts said the US military budget is set to exceed $800 billion in 2023, equivalent to that of more than 100 countries combined. When NATO demanded its members increase their military spending to 2% of GDP, former US President Donald Trump was dissatisfied and asked for 4%. While western media never seem to point fingers at those, instead, they are quick to make carping comments on the 7% increase (sometimes less) of China’s military spending. Well done with double standards.

The finger-pointing by the US and western countries at China’s military expenditure is typical Cold War mindset at work, an attempt to justify their own soaring military spending by exaggerating so-called “China threat”. The annual report on military and security developments involving China released by US Department of Defense is replete with stigmatization of China’s national defense development.

For example, the 2020 report used carefully selected data as proof of the “explosive growth” of Chinese military forces in the past 20 years, calling PLA Navy the “largest navy in the world”. A comment by American magazine Forbes was to the point, "in itself, that statistic is somewhat misleading". The report’s evaluation of China’s military forces, especially the navy, is exaggerated in order to portray China in a scary light and lay the ground for America to spend tons of money on building an unmanned fleet. Now the hyping of China’s military expenditure by some western media is perhaps just another try to secure excuses for the massive hike of military spending of the US and certain western countries.

Recently, the US has played the same card in domains beyond military. In his State of the Union address on March 1, US President Joe Biden bragged about his infrastructure law, saying that the US will spend up to 10 years upgrading its infrastructure, which will “put us on a path to win the economic competition…particularly with China”. The America COMPETES Act of 2022 previously passed by the House of Representatives also included large portions of contents targeting China, and Biden said it would help America defeat China in the coming decades.

The US says it increases military spending to “deal with China”; allocates money for infrastructure to “deal with China”; even develops technology, education and medical care to “win the competition with China”. It seems that without China as a rival, the US would have no need to mend its rundown bridges, shore up its supply chain weaknesses, or reform its education system – in a word, it doesn’t have to care how its people are living if there is no “China threat”.

To become more competitive and develop better is a government’s unshirkable responsibility, be it defense or other domains. If a country has to constantly use threats from other countries as an excuse to endorse or justify its own development strategy and policies, that shows it has lost sight of where it’s going or where it should go, being stuck in its Cold War mindset and political in-fighting and too busy forming small gangs and fabricating enemies for itself everywhere.

China’s national defense expenditure is reasonable and transparent with appropriate increase. It poses no threat to world peace and security. The mild increase is necessary both to tackle security challenges and to fulfill China’s duties as a major country. Foreign media’s old trick of hyping up China’s military budget is weak, unreasonable and pathetic when confronted with solid facts. It’s high time they dump such tricks. No foreign country has any right to point fingers at or pass judgment on how China uses its military budget.

Editor’s note: This article is originally published on china.com.cn, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

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