Senior members of the People's Liberation Army met the U.S. Pacific Command aircrews when they delivered relief supplies to the earthquake-stricken Sichuan province in May 2008

commentary

(CNN)

March 13, 2013

China's Defense Spending Mystery

PLA members met the U.S. Pacific Command aircrews when they delivered relief supplies to the earthquake-stricken Sichuan province in May 2008

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais/U.S. Air Force

by Scott W. Harold

China has once again announced a major expansion in its defense spending, leaving outside observers to again debate what this all could mean. Unfortunately, the planned 10.7 percent increase for 2013 posed more questions than it answered: Is it a sign of a more assertive China that wants to pursue regional dominance? Is it an indication of a country seeking to redress long-term weaknesses in its military? Or is it a sign of a domestic leadership that can't say no to the military at a time of political transition?

The fact is that it's a bit of all of these.

In absolute terms, the official Chinese defense budget is slated to rise from approximately $106.4 billion in 2012 to $119 billion this year. (The White House, meanwhile, proposed a $553 billion budget for the U.S. Defense department in fiscal 2012)....

The remainder of this op-ed can be found at cnn.com.


Scott Harold is an associate political scientist for the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.

This commentary originally appeared on CNN on March 12, 2013. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.