Discounting the propaganda about lower defence spending than the US (many analysts put the Chinese figure as much higher), this report from the CPC website gives some insight into where China’s military is headed.
With the rapid development of information technology, the PLA speeded up its modernization with an increased focus on mechanization and informatization. The PLA has announced that it will reach its goal of building “informationized” armed forces and be capable of winning informationized wars by the mid-21st century.
Experts say China’s modernization of its national defense has been based on very limited resources. Despite the 17.8-percent rise in military spending this year, China’s defense budget of 350.9 billion yuan (46.2 billion U.S. dollars) is only ten percent of the United States’ military spending of 448 billion U.S. dollars.
“Given the fact China has 1.3 billion people, 9.6 million square kilometers of territory, 22,000 kilometers of borders and 18,000 kilometers of oceanic boundaries, China’s military spending, either in absolute value or proportion, still lags behind many countries in the world,” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in March during the annual parliamentary session.
In keeping with the modernization process, the PLA has demobilized millions of men and women since 1978. The number of its personnel declined from a peak figure of 6.27 million in 1951, during the Korean War, to 2.3 million in 2005.
Over the past 15 years, the PLA has recruited more than 30,000 doctorate and master degree holders and more than 90 percent of regiment officers in PLA’s combat troops have received university education.