Xi Jinping (The Grosby Group/archives)

China has the largest standing army and navy in the world, and the regime announced on Sunday the largest increase in its military budget since 2019.

Here are some facts about China’s defense capabilities and how crucial military decisions are made:

He People’s Liberation Army (EPL) has more than two million men and women trained in active serviceaccording to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), making it the largest armed force in the world.

Ground troops make up the bulk of the army, with 965,000 soldiers, while the navy has 260,000 personnel and the air force 395,000. There is also a strategic missile force of 120,000 and a branch paramilitary force of 500,000 soldiers.

Beijing has reduced its military in recent years, cutting nearly 300,000 troops from its ground forces in 2019, while has invested billions of dollars in defense modernization.

He plans to complete these efforts by 2035 and transform the military into a a “world-class” force to rival those of the United States and other Western powers for 2050.

People's Liberation Army troops (Reuters)
People’s Liberation Army troops (Reuters)

“China is modernizing its army in general, an essential investment because some units are among the best trained and equipped in the world, but others are decades behindsaid Niklas Swanstrom, director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy.

China has the largest navy in the world in terms of number of ships, but the fleet contains many smaller warshipslike frigates and corvettes.

Tienne from Beijing three aircraft carriers, but only two are operational, and the third is still in the testing phase. The United States has 11 aircraft carriers.

In November, the Pentagon claimed that Chinese air forces were “quickly catching up” with Western air forces.

According to an analysis by the IISS, “over the past three years annual production rates of J-16 and J-20 fighters doubled″.

China has only one overseas military baseIn Yibutiwhich she says was created to protect commercial vessels from pirates operating near the Horn of Africa.

China is also modernizing the Cambodian Naval Base Reambut it is unclear whether a Chinese unit will be stationed there.

Ream is strategically located in the Gulf of Thailand, providing easy access to the disputed South China Sea, a key global shipping lane.

The Chinese military’s international experience has been limited to its participation in UN peacekeeping missions in a handful of countries, including Sudan, Mali and Lebanon.

President Xi Jinping has tightened his control over the military since he abolished term limits in 2018, allowing him to stay in power indefinitely.

In 2021, the National Defense Law was amended to give full responsibility for defense mobilization to the Xi-led Central Military Commission (CMC).

This means that the Council of State has no say in decisions relating to military deployment.

The CMC is also in charge of managing and supervising the procurement of the People’s Liberation Army since March 2022.

“The operational effectiveness of the military, however, continues to be hampered by training and doctrine issues,” according to the IISS.

China also has a large missile arsenalwith stealth aircraft and bombers capable of carrying nuclear weaponsas well as nuclear powered submarines.

Beijing has some 350 nuclear warheadsfar fewer than the 5,428 the United States has or the 5,977 Russia has, according to data from the Stockholm International Institute for Peace Research (SIPRI).

China’s nuclear arsenal is expected to grow to around 1,500 warheads by 2035, the Pentagon said last year.

Beijing attempted a hypersonic missile nuclear weapon that went around the world in August 2021 and took the American intelligence services by surprise.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles in Tiananmen Square (Reuters)
Intercontinental ballistic missiles in Tiananmen Square (Reuters)

China has a strict policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons.

The increase in defense spending presented this Sunday, the strongest since 2019, will be 7.2%, up slightly from +7.1% the previous year, according to a report by the Ministry of Finance published during the annual session of the National People’s Congress. Assembly.

China will allocate 1.5 trillion yuan ($225,000 million) in his defense. It’s him world’s second largest military budget behind that of the United States, which is three times higher.

However, there is skepticism about the veracity of the Chinese figures. “A lot of their military research, like missiles, cyber defense, etc., is not included in military spending, but is considered civilian research and development,” Niklas Swanström told AFP. director of the Policy Institute of Security and Development in Stockholm.

For the eighth consecutive year, the increase in China’s defense budget remains below 10% but still raises concerns. distrust of countries in territorial dispute with the Asian giant.

This is the case, for example, of India with skirmishes over its disputed border in the Himalayas, of Japan for control of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands or of the Philippines due to regular incidents over the sovereignty of certain islands. of the South China Sea.

And Western countries are also restless. Senior US officials have recently accused Beijing of wanting to invade Taiwan within a few years or of having a “fleet” of military balloons that spy around the world.

Even NATO, traditionally centered on Europe, since last year has seen Eastern power as a “challenge” to the “interests” of Alliance members.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the United States is the country with the highest military spending, with $801 billion in 2021, according to the latest available data. They are followed in this order by China (293,000), India (76,600), the United Kingdom (68,400), Russia (65,900) and France (56,600).

(With information from AFP)

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