How Will the CCP’s Military Spending Change Under Xi Jinping’s Leadership?

The Chinese Communist Party's military increases focus on the East and South China Sea, and military spending has continued to grow by double-digit figures. (Image:  Mills Baker  via   flickr  /  CC BY 2.0 )
The Chinese Communist Party's military increases focus on the East and South China Sea, and military spending has continued to grow by double-digit figures. (Image: Mills Baker via flickr / CC BY 2.0 )

In the last decade, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military spending has continued to grow by double-digit figures, drawing the attention of China’s neighbours. “China’s Threat Theory” also has become a long-standing hot topic of discussion. Last year, the CCP demonstrated robustness in the dispute over the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands, drawing further media attention.

A BBC report cited Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun’s article that stated the CCP’s military increases focus on the East and South China Sea to cope with the US’s “Back to Asia” strategy. Hua Po, a Beijing political affairs observer, said:

Xi must win over the army’s loyalty

In the recent months, Xi Jinping made a high-profile inspection tour of the CCP’s military forces. Hua Po remarked that Xi had to establish his authority with the military as the new commander-in-chief. Hua Po said:

tibet monks arrested by chinese soldiers pla Military of the Republic of China

Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China and General Secretary of the CCP, stressed that the army had to be absolutely loyal to the CCP, following the principle of “the Party commands the gun”. (Image: SFT HQ (Students for a Free Tibet) via wikimedia / CC BY-SA 2.0)

On the other hand, Xi visited most of the military groups during his inspection tour, including the army, navy, air force, the second artillery and the armed police, among others. He stressed that the army had to be absolutely loyal to the CCP, following the principle of “the Party commands the gun”. This clearly shows that Xi Jinping worries about the army’s loyalty.

Social conflicts in China have reached a critical level

Hua Po added that:

china qidong protest overturned police car

Hua Po, a Beijing political affairs observer, said that the social conflicts in China have reached a critical level, and that the possibility of having another historic event like the “June 4th Incident” also grows higher. Pictured above: A protest last year in Qidong, China, dubbed “the Qidong protest”. (Image: Robert Moposang via wikimedia / CC BY-ND 2.0)

China’s economic growth is projected to drop in the coming year. Hua thinks the CCP’s military budget will experience a significant slowdown after Xi solidifies his leadership over the military. Currently, Xi needs to be cautious of the army’s sentiments, as he just took power. This is the reason why military spending maintains its 2-digit growth.

Hua Po remarked that Xi is attempting to strike a balance between justice and mercy regarding the army. On one hand, he is trying to address the problem of the widespread corruption to establish his authority; on the other hand, he obliges them by cutting down the military increases in a moderate manner, because he doesn’t want to irritate the military forces.

Political commentator Heng He remarked that the military increases will not influence China’s economic development too much as China has a very large economic pool, saying:

Ending corruption in the military and the Party is risky

Heng He further remarked that being able to “benefit” from corruption is what the CCP entices its followers with. If all the corruption is really eliminated, then both the survival of the Party and the army will be at stake:

Another article reveals that the salaries in the army will be raised again in June. This move can be seen as Xi continuing to win over the army’s loyalty with “power” and “money”. In such a case, there is little chance of seeing a significant slowdown in the growth of military spending.

chinese communist ccp army PLA Military of the Republic of China

Another article reveals that the salaries in the army will be raised again in June. This move can be seen as Xi Jinping continuing to win over the army’s loyalty with “power” and “money”. (Image: Jonathan Kos-Read via wikimedia / CC BY-ND 2.0)

According to US statistics, China’s “actual” military spending is perhaps 3 to 4 times higher than what the CCP announces.

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