IR & Politics

Sky Is the Limit

The yearly meeting of the National People’s Congress completed last week. As in previous years, NPC announced China’s 2021 defence budget. According to the current exchange rate, the new determined defence budget will reach $209.16 billion (according to the current exchange rate), which is 6.8 per cent higher than the previous year. Therefore, I dare to say; China’s GDP growth and announced defence budget have been increasing parallelly. Although, given the fact that the world’s economy has been downsizing since the Covid 19 pandemic started, China grows more assertive.The defence budget for 2020 was 1.27 trillion yuan ($179 billion), up 6.6 per cent from 2019 and the country has maintained a single-digit growth in its annual defence budget since 2016[1]. Seems, sky is the limit.

As Xi Jinping says, “the east is rising”. China has customed to flex their political muscles with economic growth. China’s share of global GDP by %18.56 by 2020, and it’s expected by 2025, the GDP would reach % 20.57[2].  Hereby, it is not hard to contemplate that China’s defence budget is to maintain the enduring transformation of the People’s Liberation Army amid tensions with the U.S. and critical neighbours. China has stepped up its assertions in the South China Sea, begun patrolling neighbouring Japanese controlled islands, conflicts between India, air patrolling the Taiwan Strait, the militarization of human-made islands in the South China Sea, increasing its nuclear arsenal, the Hong Kong dispute, political and economical operations in Africa, and much more. Therefore, China is improving military readiness, making overall preparations to respond to security threats in all areas, strengthening the military’s strategic ability to defend China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.

China has gradually transformed its economy from low-cost manufacturing to a global pioneer in innovative technology. Also, China has changed the world economics supply chain system, foreign diplomacy and has been the leading trade and growth partner for developing markets across Asia, Africa and Latin America. China is using its economic advantage by using as leverage on its economic partners. Moreover, the Chinese army has transformed itself into a war machine on land, sea, air and space, as well as in cybersecurity. Furthermore, the Chinese defence industry has become a significant supplier in the world. According to SIPRI, “The top 25 also includes four Chinese companies. Three are in the top 10: Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC; ranked 6th), China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC; ranked 8th) and China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO; ranked 9th). The combined revenue of the four Chinese companies in the top 25—which also include China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC; ranked 24th)—grew by 4.8 per cent between 2018 and 2019”[3]. SIPRI Senior Researcher Nan Tian said in a statement accompanying the report that “Chinese arms companies are benefiting from military modernization programmes for the People’s Liberation Army”[4].  China was the second biggest country with the highest military spending worldwide in 2019[5]. China’s military expenditure was more significant than the combined expenditure of India, Russia, Saudi Arabia and France in 2019. From the last quarter of the twentieth century, China has shown a significant rise that could change the established global system’s rules, or at least have a say.

As stated above, with the advance technology, capital transfer of global financial circles and more appropriately, with increasing military power, China has been opposed to the USA as a great power. Undoubtedly, China’s own internal dynamics and national power have also been effective in this and the economic diplomacy will mark the future not with a coercive ideological approach but with ideas such as “partnership” “sharing a common destiny”. When the subject is handled from this point of view, it is evident that the power of the global domination of the USA has weakened in the post-Cold War period, and China has taken steps to assume the role of a superpower. There are many motivations underlying China’s extraordinary growth and modernization. These might be “The biggest source of chaos in the present-day world is the United States,” Mr. Xi said, a county official in northwest China recounted in a speech published last week on a government website. He quoted Mr. Xi as saying: “The United States is the biggest threat to our country’s development and security.”[6]








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Berk Can Kozan

He achieved his BA Degree from the Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus and obtained his MA degree from University of Pécs in Hungary. His main research fields concern on nuclear deterrence, international security and foreign policy issues, international relations’ theories, and internal/external affairs of Turkey. Currently, he is a third year PhD student at the National University of Public Service in Hungary.
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