Keeping Up with the Pacing Threat: Unveiling the True Size of Beijing’s Military Spending

  • Beijing’s publicly released military budget is inaccurate and does not adequately capture the colossal scope and scale of China’s ongoing military buildup and wide-ranging armed forces modernization.
  • After accounting for economic adjustments and estimating reasonable but uncounted expenditures, the buying power of China’s 2022 military budget balloons to an estimated $711 billion—triple Beijing’s claimed topline and nearly equal with the United States’ military budget that same year.
  • Equal defense spending between the United States and China plays to Beijing’s benefit. As a global power, the United States must balance competing priorities in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere, which spreads Washington’s budget thinly across multiple theaters. Meanwhile, each yuan China invests in its military directly builds its regional combat power in Asia.
  • America’s spy community has confirmed that Beijing’s defense spending is on par with Washington’s, but questions remain. The intelligence community’s estimate of China’s $700 billion in annual military expenditures needs more transparency to better convey Beijing’s military budget breakdown and inform policy debates regarding US defense spending investments, gaps, and imbalances.”

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