China’s military spending: is there a new arms race?

May 09, 2015



Disclaimer: This list is NOT all inclusive. US Special Operations have dozens of firearms at their disposal. This list is just a sampling and is arranged in NO particular order.

     FN SCAR

The Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) is a modular rifle made by FN Herstal (FNH) for the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to satisfy the requirements of the SCAR competition. This family of rifles consist of two main types. The SCAR-L, for "light", is chambered in the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge and the SCAR-H, for "heavy", fires 7.62×51mm NATO. Both are available in Long Barrel and Close Quarters Combat variants.

10 Guns of the Special Forces

10 Guns of the Special Forces

10 Guns of the Special Forces

Pictured Above: FN MK 20 MOD 0 Sniper Support Rifle (SSR)
Cartridge
  • 5.56×45mm NATO(SCAR-L)
  • 7.62×51mm NATO(SCAR-H)
Action Gas-operated (short-stroke gas piston), rotating bolt
Rate of fire 625 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity
  • SCAR-L: 2,870 ft/s (870 m/s) (M855)
  • SCAR-L: 2,630 ft/s (800 m/s) (Mk 262)
  • SCAR-H: 2,342 ft/s (714 m/s) (M80)
Effective firing range
  • SCAR-L: 300 m (330 yd) (Short), 500 m (550 yd) (Standard), 600 m (660 yd) (Long)
  • SCAR-H: 300 m (330 yd) (Short), 600 m (660 yd) (Standard), 800 m (870 yd) (Long)
Feed system
  • SCAR-L: STANAG box magazine
  • SCAR-H/SSR: 20-round box magazine
Sights Iron sights or various optics

FULL FN SCAR SPECS HERE

 

By Peter Robertson, University of Western Australia.

As the world’s second largest military power, China’s announcement of a 12% increase in its military budget has elicited grumbles from Taipei, Tokyo and Washington. But what does this increase signal regarding China’s intentions, and how does it affect the balance of power in the Western Pacific?

Picture Courtesy CCTV

China’s military strength over the last decade has been characterised by modernisation and double digit growth. It includes the development of military flagship programs such as its first aircraft carrier and anti-ship hypersonic missiles that can theoretically breach current generation US naval defences.

 

Moreover the estimated US$132 billion budget probably understates total defence spending since it leaves out many items, including procurement. The true budget is often estimated at almost double the official figures.

The announcement also comes against a background of China’s seemingly uncompromising claims of sovereignty over the whole of the South China Sea and the heightened tensions with Japan over the East China Sea. Likewise the United States has committed to its “pivot” (or rebalance) to Asia, and aims to have 60% of US naval capacity located in the Pacific by 2020. Other major players such as Japan and India are strengthening their defence ties and Japan has also recently announced its own increases in it military budget.

Picture Courtesy CCTV

China points out, correctly, that its $US132 billion defence budget is still well below the USA’s level of $527 billion. Nevertheless this comparison, based on market exchange rates, probably understates China’s relative position. Comparing expenditures based on estimates of the actual purchasing power of each currency in its own country suggests that China’s real spending is closer to 70-80% of the United States. Moreover the USA’s budget is declining, and its military is globally stretched.

So is there a new arms race in Asia?

Possibly. But there there is some cause for a more sanguine interpretation of these numbers.

The first thing to note is that this year’s increase in China’s nominal spending is pretty much the same as last year’s increase and, in fact, smaller than the average annual rate of increase since about 2000, of 15%. So, importantly, the defence spending increase is not an acceleration. Rather it is simply “business as usual”.

 

Now double digit growth may not sound like “business as usual”, but remember this is China. In China just about everything – roads, cars, steel, guns and butter - has double digit growth.

To see this we only need to look at China’s military spending as a fraction of its total economic spending, measured by GDP, which has been almost constant since 2000. This reveals a much less hawkish picture.

Moreover China’s level of spending, even allowing for under-reporting, represents only about 2% of its GDP. This is approximately the world average (1.9%). Further it is is less than half that of the United State’s relative military spending, which exceeds 4% of GDP. In terms of arms races both of these numbers are dwarfed by the 20% of GDP spent by the Soviet Union in the 1970s - so in these terms it doesn’t look like an arms race.

Pictured Above: China's First Aircraft Carrier

Thus China’s commitment of economic resources to its military is remarkably average. And the double digit growth in China’s military budget is not a reflection of “increased militarisation”, but simply a result of its rapid economic growth. This allows it to increase its spending in real terms without any additional stress on the economy.

So as China grows, its potential military capacity has grown commensurately. This is not to deny China’s rise as a military power. But importantly, at this stage at least, there is no sign of an escalation in spending, or an increased commitment to military ambitions.

A growth rate of 12% would be a lot for the USA’s, Japan’s or Australia’s military. But in China, at the moment, it’s pretty much par for the course.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.