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Do the Chinese spend a lot on Defense?

Nothing compared to what we spend. And what do we get? We get our ass handed to us in places like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan because of Congressional and Military leaders who have their heads up their ass.

Link to great overview on how the US ranks and spends on Defense.

What Does China Really Spend on Defense?

A bill in the Senate would try to get a more accurate picture.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

June 9, 2023 7:04 pm ET

For a short tutorial on how the world is becoming a more precarious place, watch the recent video of a Chinese destroyer harassing a U.S. Navy warship in the Taiwan Strait. The event makes all the more timely a new effort in Congress to offer the public a more detailed accounting of Beijing’s military power.

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska) recently introduced the China Defense Spending Transparency Act, with Sens. Angus King (Ind., Maine) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.). The legislation requires the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to produce a “comprehensive report exposing the true extent of China’s defense-industrial build up.”

China’s official defense spending, roughly $220 billion, is second in the world to the U.S. A Pentagon report last year estimated the budget has nearly doubled over the past decade. China’s Navy is the largest in the world by ship count and is catching up in tonnage as it adds larger ships to the fleet.

Yet that isn’t close to a full accounting. Beijing’s statistics fudge or omit large categories of spending, such as research and development and foreign weapons purchases. The Senate bill would ask the DIA to produce a public report that better captures real spending. That would include an analysis of Beijing’s “military-civil fusion” strategy that appropriates private technology for war purposes.

This report would be a public service and better inform the debate over American defense spending. Voters are invariably told America spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined and doesn’t need to spend more, even as military spending is close to the lowest level since World War II at 3% of the economy.

But no one really knows what China is spending, and it appears closer to U.S. expenditures than most appreciate. A 2021 Pentagon report estimated that China’s defense budget is perhaps 1.1 times to twice the size of the official statistics. Mr. Sullivan has said on the Senate floor that U.S. intelligence officials told him at a recent briefing the right figure is closer to $700 billion.

The U.S. spends more than $840 billion on the Pentagon, but the gap narrows further when priorities and relative purchasing power are considered. The U.S. spends lavishly on military healthcare and pensions. One analysis from 2021 noted entry-level pay for soldiers is 16 times higher in America than in China. That’s money China spends on missiles. Beijing also isn’t beholden to tardy appropriations from Congress.

In other words, China is spending more than advertised, getting more weapons for the buck—and concentrating its forces on dominating the Western Pacific, while the U.S. juggles commitments in Europe and elsewhere. The Senate bill is a sensible step that deserves bipartisan support. A first step to confronting the military challenge posed by China is getting a clear picture of the actual threat.

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