Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Demystifying China's Defence Spending: Less Mysterious in the Aggregate*

  • Adam P. Liff (a1) and Andrew S. Erickson (a2)
Abstract

China's limited transparency concerning its defence spending harms strategic trust, but foreign analysts often lose sight of important realities. Specific details remain unclear, but China's defence spending overall is no mystery – it supports PLA modernization and personnel development as well as its announced objectives of securing China's homeland and asserting control over contested territorial and maritime claims, with a focus on the Near Seas (the Yellow, East, and South China seas). This article offers greater context and perspective for Chinese and Western discussions of China's rise and concomitant military build-up through a nuanced and comprehensive assessment of its defence spending and military transparency.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Email: apl@princeton.edu (corresponding author)
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Adam Liff thanks the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation for generous research travel support. The authors thank Richard Bitzinger, Dennis Blasko, Felix Boecking, Amy Chang, Patrick Chovanec, Thomas Christensen, Roger Cliff, Gabriel Collins, Abraham Denmark, Arthur Ding, M. Taylor Fravel, Nan Li, Darren Lim, James Mulvenon, Barry Naughton, William Norris, Michael O'Hanlon, Suzanne Patrick, Robert Ross, Sean Sullivan, one anonymous American expert and two anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts. They owe special thanks to Yunzhuang Zhang and Nancy Hearst for suggesting useful Chinese-language sources. Unless explicitly cited otherwise, the views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Bitzinger, Richard A. 2003. “Just the facts, ma'am: the challenge of analysing and assessing Chinese military expenditures.” The China Quarterly 173, 164175.
Blasko, Dennis J., Freeman, Chas W. Jr., Horowitz, Stanley A., Medeiros, Evan S. and Mulvenon, James C.. Defense-Related Spending in China: A Preliminary Analysis and Comparison with American Equivalents. The United States-China Policy Foundation. http://www.uscpf.org/v2/pdf/defensereport.pdf.
Blasko, Dennis J. 2012a. The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century (New York: Routledge).
Blasko, Dennis J. 2012b. “U.S. and Chinese approaches to peacekeeping and stability operations.” In Goldstein, Lyle J. (ed.), Not Congruent but Quite Complementary: U.S. and Chinese Approaches to Nontraditional Security, 87101. Newport, RI: U.S. Naval War College China Maritime Studies Institute.
Chen, Bingfu. 2005. “Xifang guojia dui Zhongguo guofang zhichu de cesuan: chayi yu wenti” (Estimates of China's national defence expenditures by Western countries: differences and problems). In Zhongguo guofang jingjixue: 2004 (China Defence Economics: 2004). Beijing: Jingji kexue chubanshe, 8394.
Chen, Sean, and Feffer, John. 2009. “China's military spending: soft rise or hard threat?Asian Perspective 33 (4), 4767.
Chen, Weifeng, chief ed. 1997. Junfei guanlixue (Military expenditure management). Beijing: Jiefangjun chubanshe.
Chinanews, com. 2010. “Guofangbu guanwang: Zhongguo guofangfei kexue heli wanquan gongkai touming” (Ministry of Defence official website: China's scientific and rational defence spending completely public and transparent”), 5 March, http://www.chinanews.com/gn/news/2010/03-05/2154879.shtml.
Information Office of the State Council (PRC). 2006. China's National Defense in 2006. english.chinamil.com.cn/site2/special-reports/2007gfbps/index.htm. Accessed 12 September 2012.
Information Office of the State Council (PRC). 2009 China's National Defense in 2008. http://www.china.org.cn/government/whitepaper/2009-01/21/content_17162799.htm.
Crane, Keith, Cliff, Roger, Medeiros, Evan, Mulvenon, James and Overholt, William. 2005. Modernizing China's Military: Opportunities and Constraints. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
Garnaut, John. 2012. “Rotting from within.” Foreign Policy. 16 April. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/16/rotting_from_within. Accessed 20 September 2012.
Gu, Jianyi, and Bingfu, Chen. 2006. “Yonghao guanhao junfei: quanmian tigao junfei shiyong xiaoyi” (Use and manage military spending well: increase the effectiveness of military spending comprehensively). Caijingjie 8, 5154.
Guo, Da. 2010. “Jiedu Zhongguo 2010 nian guofangfei yusuan” (Deciphering China's FY2010 defence budget), Xinmin wanbao, 18 March 2010. xmwb.news365.com.cn/jjlw/201003/t20100318_2651453.htm. Accessed 20 September 2012.
Hu, Angang, and Taoxiong, Liu. 2003. “Zhongguo guofang jianshe dada zhihou yu jingji jianshe” (China's national defence construction lags far behind its economic construction). Zhongguo guofang jingji 2, 25.
Huang, Ruixin, and Xibin, Zhang. 2008. “Dui woguo junfei zengzhang xingzhi de zairenshi” (Understand anew the nature of the growth of China's military spending), Jiefang junbao, 26 February.
IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies). 2006. The Military Balance 2006. Oxford: Routledge for IISS.
IISS. 2010. The Military Balance 2010. Oxford: Routledge for IISS.
IISS. 2012. The Military Balance 2012. Oxford: Routledge for IISS.
IMF (International Monetary Fund). 2012. “World Economic Outlook Database April 2012.” http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2012/01/weodata/index.aspx. Accessed 29 September 2012.
Janes.com 2012. “China defence budget,” Jane's Defence Budgets (Jane's Information Group), 2 July 2012, www.janes.com. Accessed 26 July 2012.
Jiang, Luming, and Weihai, Wang. 2012. “Ruhe kandai Zhongguo guofangfei zengzhang” (How to view the growth of China's national defence expenses), Guangming ribao, 20 March, http://theory.people.com.cn/GB/136458/17433560.html. Accessed 15 September 2012.
Kardon, Isaac B. 2010. “China's emerging debate on military transparency.” China Brief 10 (18), 810.
Kiselycznyk, Michael, and Saunders, Phillip C.. 2010. Assessing Chinese Military Transparency. Washington, DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies.
Li, Ling, Sheng, Zhou, and Yu, Wang. 2011. “Zhongguo guofangfei fudan de ‘shuangchongxing’ fenxi” (Analysis of China's ‘dualistic’ defence expenditure burden). Junshi jingji yanjiu (July), 1215.
Li, Yingcheng, Fei, Mao, and Li, Yuan. 2010. “Jiyu guojia anquan de hexie shehui caizheng zhengce” (Harmonious society financial policy based on national security). Junshi jingji yanjiu (April), 1619.
Lu, Zhoulai, and Liang, Ouyang. 2006. “Junfei kaizhi jueding de xingudian moxing ji dui Zhongguo dalu de jingyan yanjiu” (A neoclassical model of military spending decisions and research on mainland China's economy). In Luming, Jiang (ed.), Zhongguo Guofang Jingjixue: 2005 (Chinese Defence Economics: 2005). Beijing: Zhongguo Caizheng Jingji Chubanshe, 3051.
National Intelligence Council. 2012. Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. www.dni.gov/nic/globaltrends. Accessed 12 February 2013.
“Northeast Asia Defense Transparency Project.” igcc.ucsd.edu/research/regional-diplomacy/neasia-defense-transparency-project/. Accessed 12 September 2012.
Office of the Secretary of Defense. 2002. Military Power of the People's Republic of China. Annual Report to Congress.
Office of the Secretary of Defense. 2006. Military Power of the People's Republic of China. Annual Report to Congress.
Office of the Secretary of Defense. 2009. Military Power of the People's Republic of China. Annual Report to Congress.
Office of the Secretary of Defense. 2010. Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China. Annual Report to Congress.
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). 2012. National Defense Budget Estimates for FY 2013. March 2012. comptroller.defense.gov/defbudget/fy2013/FY13_Green_Book.pdf. Accessed 29 September 2012.
Pugh, Philip. 1986. The Cost of Seapower: The Influence of Money on Naval Affairs from 1815 to the Present Day. London: Conway Maritime Press.
Rumsfeld, Donald. 2005. “The Hon Donald Rumsfeld.” Speech at 6th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, Singapore, 4 June 2005. http://www.iiss.org/conferences/the-shangri-la-dialogue/shangri-la-dialogue-archive/shangri-la-dialogue-2005/2005-speeches/first-plenary-session-the-hondonald-rumsfeld. Accessed 12 September 2012.
Shambaugh, David L. 2004. Modernizing China's Military Progress, Problems, and Prospects. Berkeley: University of California Press.
State Statistical Bureau and State Science and Technology Commission, ed. 2011. Zhongguo keji tongji nianjian (China Statistical Yearbook on Science and Technology). Beijing: China Statistical Press.
SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute). 2009. SIPRI Yearbook 2009. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
SIPRI. 2012. “Rise in international arms transfers is driven by Asian demand, says SIPRI,” 19 March 2012, http://www.sipri.org/media/pressreleases/rise-in-international-arms-transfers-is-driven-by-asian-demand-says-sipri. Accessed 20 September 2012.
Sun, Huangtian. 2009. “Guoji jinrong weiji dui wojun caijing gongzuo de yingxiang yu duice” (Impacts of international financial crisis on our army's financial and economic operation and related countermeasures). Junshi jingji yanjiu (February), 58.
Sun, Yandong. 2011. “Jiaqiang jundui jingfei shiyong guanli lianzheng jiandu de gouxiang” (Enhance supervision of clean conduct in use and management of military funds). Junshi jingji yanjiu (July), 4749.
Teng, Jianqun. 2012. “Strategic transparency.” Beijing Review. 7 March 2012, http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2012-03/07/content_24828853_2.htm. Accessed 28 October 2012.
Wang, Shaoguang. 1996. “Estimating China's defense expenditure: some evidence form Chinese sources.” The China Quarterly 147: 889911.
Wen, Bing. 2010. “Cong yusuan zengfu xiajiang kan Zhongguo guofangfei” (Examining China's defence spending based on the decline in the budget increase), Zhongguo baodao, 15 April.
Xin Zhongguo wushi nian tongji ziliao huibian (Comprehensive Statistical Data and Materials on 50 Years of New China). 1999. Beijing: Zhongguo tongji chubanshe.
Xinhua. 2010. “China's defence budget to grow 7.5% in 2010: spokesman,” 4 March, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-03/04/content_9537753.htm. Accessed 20 September 2012.
Xinhua. 2012a. “China's defence budget to grow 11.2 pct in 2012: spokesman,” 4 March, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-03/04/c_131445012.htm. Accessed 20 September 2012.
Xinhua. 2012b. “Scholar refutes report on Chinese military.” 21 February. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-02/21/content_14657080.htm. Accessed 20 September 2012.
Xu, Caihou. 2009. “The Chinese military: a force for multiple military tasks.” http://csis.org/event/statesmens-forum-general-xu-caihou. Accessed 20 September 2012.
Yan, Li. 1997. “Junfei zhichu guimo chuyi: tan junfei bokuan edu wenti” (Discussion of military expenditures models: military appropriations expenditures). Zhongguo ruankexue 6, 2026.
Yang, Yi. 2011. “Zhongguo junfei yusuan zengzhang wukehoufei” (“China's increasing its military budget is no cause for criticism”), Renmin ribao, 6 March.
Zhang, Ming, Wei, Qu, and Haiwei, Bai. 2011. “Qiantan tigao wuqi zhuangbei caiban xiaoyi” (An overview of improving the effectiveness of weapons and equipment procurement). Junshi jingji yanjiu (March), 2930.
Zhongguo caizheng nianjian (Finance Yearbook of China). Various Years. Accessed via China Statistical Yearbooks Database (tongji.cnki.net/kns55/index.aspx), 29 September 2012.
Zhongguo tongji zhaiyao 2012 (China Statistical Abstract 2012). Beijing: Zhongguo tongji chubanshe.
Zhongguo tongji nianjian 2011 (China Statistical Yearbook 2011). Beijing: Zhongguo tongji chubanshe.
Zhongguo wushiwu nian tongji ziliao huibian (China Compendium of statistics 1949–2004). 2005. Beijing: Zhongguo tongji chubanshe.
Zhu, Dianhua, and Wei, Xie. 2011. “Woguo guofang fudan yu jingji zengzhang de guanxi: jiyu gaige kaifang yilai de shizheng fenxi” (The relationship between our national defence burden and economic growth – based on empirical analysis since the reform and opening up). Junshi jingji yanjiu (April), 810.
Jiuxing, Zhu and Lihui, Shen. 2011. “Lun junshi caili yusuan de zhidu xiaolu ji qi duliang” (Military financial budget and measurement systems). Junshi jingji yanjiu (June), 89.
Zhu, Mengqin, and Zhenjun, Yuan. 2011. “Duihua yin zhuo, huhang shi huashidai biaozhi xing shijian” (Conversation with Yin Zhuo: escorts are an epoch-making event). Dangdai haijun 219 (December), 2225.
Zou, Shimeng. 2005. “Woguo junfei guimo ji zengzhang wenti lilun yanjiu shuping” (A theoretical research review on the issue of China's military spending model and growth). Jingjixuejia 4, 32–9.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed