Unveiling China’s True Strength: Analysts Dispute Pentagon’s Assessment of Defense Budget

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China’s military budget and capabilities may be substantially greater than what the Pentagon publicly reports, according to recent evaluations by two US researchers. 

While the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress indicated that China’s defense budget for 2022 was $230 billion, significantly lower than the US’s $886 billion, analysts argue that this comparison oversimplifies the situation.

Robert Peters and Wilson Beaver, researchers at The Heritage Foundation, argue that China’s true defense spending could be substantially higher than reported. They point to estimates from European think tanks suggesting that China’s actual military expenditure could be 30-40% greater than its official budget. 

The analysts highlight the lack of consideration for China’s military research spending and its civil-military fusion strategy, which allows its military to access civilian technology freely.

Additionally, Peters and Beaver note that China’s lower labor and material costs allow its defense spending to stretch further than that of the US. 

Assessing China’s Military Expansion

unveiling-china's-true-strength-analysts-dispute-pentagon's-assessment-of-defense-budget
China’s military budget and capabilities may be substantially greater than what the Pentagon publicly reports, according to recent evaluations by two US researchers.

Chinese soldiers earn significantly less than their US counterparts, with recruits reportedly earning only $108 per month compared to the $1,900 salary for US recruits. This difference in spending power contributes to the discrepancy between reported and actual military capabilities.

The discussion around China’s military spending gained traction after Sen. Dan Sullivan suggested that internal US assessments peg China’s annual defense budget at $700 billion, significantly higher than the announced $224 billion for 2023. 

Former NATO supreme allied commander James Stavridis noted that if China’s budget truly reached $700 billion, it would represent around 4% of the country’s GDP, signaling a concerning trend of military expansion.

Despite these concerns, there appears to be a lack of public awareness regarding the extent of China’s military capabilities. Peters and Beaver emphasize the importance of addressing this massive disconnect between perceived and actual threats posed by China’s military spending.

As discussions continue, there is a call for greater transparency and dialogue, not just within Washington’s corridors of power but also among the wider public. Understanding the true extent of China’s military power is essential for shaping informed policies and responses to address potential security challenges.

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