China challenging the US-led status quo in Asia: commentary


By increasing the country’s military budget every year, China’s government is moving closer to challenging the US-led strategic status quo in the Asia-Pacific since 1945, writes Benjamin Herscovitch, a researcher from the Centre for Independent Studies, an Australian libertarian think tank based in St Leonards, in a commentary written for the Business Spectator on March 11.

During the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress last week, NPC spokesperson Fu Ying said that the budget for the People’s Liberation Army is expected to increase by 10% this year. To ease concerns of policymakers in Tokyo, Taipei, Manila and Washington DC, it was pointed out that this is the smallest percentage increase to the defense budget in five years. This may be of little comfort however to China’s neighbors feeling the pressure of Beijing’s aggressive expansion in the East and South China seas.

“A radical rewrite of the globe’s military hierarchy is under way, and China will likely end up on top,” Herscovitch wrote. China’s real military spending in 2013 was approximately US$188 billion, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. This figure was roughly equivalent to 2% of the national GDP. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the levels of US and Chinese military spending averaged 4% and 2% of GDP, Herscovitch said.

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