Saturday, March 8, 2008

More Updates

So, this past week, the annual DoD report on Chinese military came out. Just some hours later, the military budget for PLA was also announced. It's kind of interesting that they had another 17.6% increase this year. Of course, there were an outcry from numerous countries asking for more transparency on this increase. There was also a general outcry on the DoD report for more transparency. So, why have there been this sustained increase in increases of military expenditure? The obvious reason is that China has had a sustained 9+% economic growth for the past 25 years. And the other reason is that they simply have been able to gain more revenue from tariff on the trade growth, increased taxes from corporations and finally having incoming taxes for the growing middle/upper class. As the tax laws become better enforced in the coming years, they will simply get more money to spend on government programs. This hasn't been a military budget expansion, but a general government expansion. Or as we call in the Western governments, adopting a bigger government. Interesting enough, the military budget as a portion of the overall budget has not really changed in the past few years. And I guess part of the reason is that salaries/inflation around China is going up quite a bit recently and you need to take care of the people that do these jobs. Certainly, as PLA expands, being able to recruit the top people, training them the right way is just as important as acquiring new hardwares and developing new doctrines.

The question of why China needs the military expansion is also prominently in the media. I have often wondered why the DoD never tried to answer this question. It's quite clear that facing the traditional enemies in Japan and Taiwan on the East side will always cause a lot of concerns for China. And with their ever great dependence on energy/natural resource supply and other trades with the countries to the west, it's a little wonder that China would be interested in developing a blue water fleet to relieve those choke points. The land threats from Russia and India have decreased in the recent years, but they would have to be on the mind of any PLA military planner. And the biggest threat is probably have USA list you as their biggest threat of the next 25 years. Any country receiving that kind of title would probably be feeling quite nervous. And finally, what about the all important factor of national pride. As the largest country in the world with soon to be 3rd largest economy, it is absolutely logical for a country of this size to develop the 2nd or 3rd most powerful military in the world. However, the growth of its military has not actually matched the growth in its economic power or soft power. Much of the recent equipment received are simply replacing older models with much more capable newer machineries. Is it really China's fault that most of the Western military powers are finding it too expensive too replace older weapons on a 1 to 1 basis?

Anyhow, We've had some really nice recent photos from North Sea Fleet conducting a big exercise + more photos out with the new Yuan in the Shanghai base. Here they are.

First, some of the kilos that we haven't seen for a while

Now, the new Yuan

Pictures of the 2nd 054A from HP shipyard.

And finally, the pictures from NSF of 115 and 116, 051C was involved in its first ever ASW exercise

And a nice photo of 112's weapons + firing off YJ-83 it looks like


Jiang said...

Feng, I tink our biggest threat should be Bhindia( india ). As you see, Taiwan is now our main concern, but soon this problem will be solved as we will go to war with them in March 22.

Bhindia, will be our next target. The bhindians have been increasinly seending more troops to our border and aircrafts. I think we should address this problem after we take care of the Taiwan issues.

Feng said...

Have you been spending too much time on PDF? Don't use derogatory terms like that to describe India. As for Taiwan, we are not attacking Taiwan anytime soon. PLA is simply not ready to do so. From a historical point of view, Japan will always remain a great threat to China. I would say India is only a threat when it comes to cutting off the energy route. Then again, I see countries like Malaysia and Singapore offering just as equal of a threat. If you are talking about Tibet, neither side is likely to be able to have clear advantage with how the geographic of the area is.

timurelame said...

India has some major problems with its military despite the fancy hardwares it has been receiving from Russia and likely from the US in the future. Indian military personnel are not that well trained and equipment reliability and maintenance certainly need more improvements. The US is trying to engage India so as to counter Chinese influence but the Indians are not stupid and are trying to play both sides for advantage.

India does have much better access to high technology weapons than PLA
can ever hope to have. The PLA must invest more for research and development. China is surrounded by potential enemies which makes for difficult situation.

Unknown said...

Hi Feng

As Indian political, economic and military power grows (which it will most certainly do this century) they will have capabilities to disrupt China's shipping lanes - would it be viable for PLAN to establish a permanent presence in Indian Ocean? Gwadar obviously jumps to mind...

Feng said...

I actually see Australia as a bigger problem. Because they have a far more technological advanced navy and could in theory really disrupt the flow of shipment. Their submarines ambushed around the strait could really cause a lot of problems. And same with Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. These are all countries that are closer in theory to America than China. So in the event of any conflict, they could help America cut off the sealane for China. As for India, I think that there are enough Chinese allies in the area to keep them occupied. Plus, I would feel comfortable with any future Chinese carrier group against Indian one in open sea. I do think the sea lane can go far enough from India's mainland such that Indian land based air force would be of no use in any kind of conflict scenario. But of course, no matter what they say, Gwadar is a likely stationary location for China's blue water fleet in the future.

Unknown said...

Good point. Australia is also US's biggest ally in the region (SE Asia). As for Malaysia and Singapore, I think China has good enough relations with both for them to remain neutral in any hypothetical conflict. Plus, theyre both key members of ASEAN, and China has excellent relations with ASEAN.
If I had to put my finger on it, I would say Philippines is China's biggest worry in SE Asia. Main reason is US basing troops there without any permanent bases in the name of "war on terror".

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