Monitoring Chinese Military Growth

Chinese officials announced in early March a roughly $106 billion defense budget, an 11.2 percent increase in military funding, but China is likely spending significantly more on its military, said Dave Helvey, acting deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia. “While we welcome actions China has taken to try to improve openness in the amount of information it has made available about its military, many uncertainties remain, which only underscores the importance of building a sustained and substantive military dialogue,” Helvey told reporters May 18, the day that the Pentagon released its annual report to Congress on Chinese military developments. While estimating actual Chinese military expenditures is difficult, Defense Department officials think China’s total military-related spending for 2011 ranged between $120 billion and $180 billion, states the report. To promote the military-to-military dialogue with the Chinese, US Pacific Command boss Adm. Samuel Locklear is expected to make a trip to China this summer and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also has been invited to visit China during the second half of 2012, said Helvey. Their trips will follow the visit of Chinese defense chief Gen. Liang Guanglie to the United States in early May. (China report; caution, large-sized file.) (Helvey transcript)