March 30, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9261

Chinese Media Outlet Duowei: 'The Chinese Armed Forces Have Started A Large-Scale Rearmament Operation'

March 30, 2021
China | Special Dispatch No. 9261

According to an article published March 8, 2021 by the Chinese media outlet Duowei, China is spending U.S. $209 billion to modernize and expand its military this year, a 6.8 percent increase over the year before – though some estimate expenditures to exceed $300 million – and now has the second-largest military in the world, after the U.S. "With the completion of military reform and the establishment of a new military structure and staffing, the Chinese armed forces have started a large-scale rearmament operation," the article stated, adding that all of the People's Liberation Army services – army, air force, navy, and rocket forces – are continuing to upgrade their weapons system, personnel, and joint operability. Below is the Duowei article:[1]

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

'Beijing Unveiled Its Defense Budget For 2021… Up 6.8 Percent From A Year Earlier'

"This week's Military Watch focuses on China's military spending. How the People's Liberation Army spends its $209 billion is getting attention. The Chinese Navy has been continuously serving large and medium-sized ships, and the small ship Type 056 has fallen out of favor for three reasons. The U.S. military has many new plans to contain China, but it also has many problems of its own.

"This week, as China begins its annual two sessions (NPC session and CPPCC session) [National People's Congress session and Communist Party of China Central Committee session], Beijing unveiled its defense budget for 2021: about 1,353.3 billion RMB yuan, or about 209 billion U.S. dollars, up 6.8 percent from a year earlier. While that is far short of the U.S. defense budget of 740.5 billion U.S. dollars in fiscal year of 2021, it is the first time China's military spending has crossed the 200 billion U.S. dollars mark.

"According to a previous report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), China has hidden military spending that is not included in the official figures, and the total amount was actually approaching 200 billion U.S. dollars as early as 2015. According to various estimates, China's military spending in 2021 is 'actually' approaching 300 billion U.S. dollars.

"According to a 2020 report by the UK's International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), China's military spending of that year (193.3 billion U.S. dollars) was equal to the next three combined (India's 64.1 billion U.S. dollars, the UK's 61.5 billion U.S. dollars, and Russia's 60.6 billion U.S. dollars).

'Chinese Propaganda… Stress That China's Military Buildup Poses No Threat'

"The 209 billion U.S. dollars in military spending has left many countries far behind. It has immediately rattled the world's military powers, and they have started to hype up the threat of China's military, making them suspicious in their dealings with Beijing. In response, the Chinese propaganda system has opened up a new round of 'interpretation.' The Chinese government and military system stress that China's military buildup poses no threat to other countries because it follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature.

"Chinese media have said that while the figure of 209 billion U.S. dollars is eye-catching, it translates to less than 1,000 RMB yuan per person for 1.4 billion people. However, this 'per capita rule' was deemed meaningless. In addition, public opinion in Beijing often says that the average proportion of China's military spending in its GDP from 2012 to 2017 is only 1.3 per cent, much lower than the 3.5 per cent of the United States, the 4.4 per cent of Russia and even less than the 2.5 per cent of India.

"In fact, Beijing's explanation is a thankless one and cannot offset the hype of the 'China threat' theory. After all, China is like an elephant in the house. When it gets bigger, it will naturally make people in the house feel 'threatened.'

"As a matter of fact, of China's total military spending of U.S. $209 billion, the lion's share still goes to military personnel support and combat readiness training, while a small part is spent on weapons equipment. In order to improve the status of the military and attract talented people to join the army, Xi Jinping, chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has been tilting a large amount of resources toward soldiers since taking charge of the military, especially since the military reform was initiated at the end of 2015, and the welfare benefits of the military officers and soldiers have been significantly increased.

'Xi Jinping Made War Preparation The Top Priority Of The Army Many Years Ago'

"In addition, with the changing situation, Xi Jinping made war preparation the top priority of the army many years ago. Various kinds of actual combat training have emerged one after another. At present, one actual combat training exercise consumes more ammunition than several previous actual combat training exercises combined, which naturally costs money.

"To cope with emergencies, the Chinese military spends a lot of money on both combat-ready deployment and post-deployment support. For example, in the Doklam (Dong Lang area) standoff between China and India in 2017 and the border conflict on the western frontier between China and India in 2020, heavily armed units of the PLA Army and combat units of the PLA Air Force were sent to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau one after another, which, in addition to the follow-up logistics support, cost a lot. The same is true of China's naval and air forces' 'taking turns to combat' in the Taiwan Strait.

"In the field of weapons and equipment, compared with the United States, China always adheres to the principle of 'spending less to get more things done.' However, with the rapid increase of technological content, the price of relevant weapons also rises. For example, a Type 055 destroyer costs as much as 6 billion RMB yuan, and a J-20 stealth fighter costs about 110 million U.S. dollars.

'Chinese Armed Forces Have Started A Large-Scale Rearmament Operation'

"With the completion of military reform and the establishment of a new military structure and staffing, the Chinese armed forces have started a large-scale rearmament operation. For the Army, the Type 99A and Type 15 tanks have been fitted out, as well as various new artillery pieces; in the Air Force, the J-20, Y-20, and various types of special aircraft are stepping up mass production; in the Navy, military yards are 'crowded' with aircraft carriers, destroyers, corvettes and submarines; on the PLA Rocket Force side, the DF-17, DF-26 and DF-41 missiles have recently been installed.

"Although the expenditure on weapons and equipment accounts for a small proportion of China's military spending, weapons and equipment have the greatest impact on both domestic and foreign countries due to their visibility, giving the outside world a perceptual understanding of China's military development. Today, China's military is firmly second only to the United States in terms of conventional forces.

"For the Chinese army, the increase in military spending can strengthen the 'body' of the PLA, which is particularly prominent in the China-Indian conflict. For example, the Tibet Military Area and the Xinjiang Military Area have taken advantage of the situation to complete the construction of mechanization, accelerate the construction of military informatization, and greatly improve their rapid response ability.

"The Chinese military has become a more difficult adversary for potential rivals, and how to avoid engaging it is a matter of politics.

China Has '60 More Warships Than The U.S. Military, And By 2025 It Will Have More Than 400 Warships'

"Just after China's latest military budget was disclosed, American public opinion began to claim that 'China has built the world's largest navy.' By the end of 2020, China had 60 more warships than the U.S. military, and by 2025 it will have more than 400 warships, up from the 355 planned by the U.S. military, the U.S. report said, using data from the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) of the United States.

"Although the U.S. Navy may take the opportunity to ask for more money, it should not be ignored that just this week, the Chinese Navy officially announced that the second Type 055 10,000-ton class destroyer Lhasa (Hull 102) was officially installed at the Qingdao base of the PLA's Northern Theater. In addition to the Type 055's first vessel Nanchang, China has commissioned two Type 055 destroyers, another one (Dalian) is about to be delivered, two are undergoing sea trials, three are outfitting, and China plans to build a new batch of eight.

"At the same time, Chinese official reports confirmed that the extended version of the Type 052D, Huainan (Hull 123), had been put into service and is undergoing training, and another ship of the same type, Suzhou (Hull 132), had also been delivered and appeared in January. Up to now, China has put seventeen Type 052D destroyers and their modifications into service, and another eight ships are under construction.

"It has been concluded that as of March 6, the Chinese Navy has 35 destroyers in active service, including 29 with vertical launching system, 1,728 vertical launching units and 24 'Chinese Aegis' ships equipped with phased array radar. The overall scale is second only to the U.S. Navy.

"In the meantime, the Chinese Navy has recently received two Type 056A corvettes, Nanyang (Hull 619) and Shangqiu (Hull 618). So far, all 72 corvettes of this series have been in place (22 Type 056 ships and 50 Type 056A ships). Beijing is believed to have terminated the construction of this type of corvette.

"In this regard, some retired Chinese military officers said that the Type 056 corvettes may repeat the fate of the Type 22 missile boats, that is, 80 ships were built urgently in response to the situation in Taiwan Strait. However, due to the rapid development of the situation and technology, most Type 22 missile boats lost their original value and were sealed up.

"The Type 056 series corvettes have 'fallen out of favor' for the following reasons: First, they were not in line with China's strategy of building an ocean-going navy, so the construction of the corvettes has been stopped in order to concentrate resources on building large and medium-sized ships; Second, the Type 056 series corvettes are difficult to play a major role in the close combat between the Chinese and American navies in the first island chain area; Third, China's air and sea forces have been optimized, the coast guard has been 'militarized' and maritime missions have been dispersed.

"In addition to the destroyers and frigates, the latest pictures of the Type 003 aircraft carrier being built at a Shanghai shipyard show that it is still in the early stages of building a hangar. However, it is worth noting that China's official media recently purportedly released information about the production of the J-15 catapult carrier-based aircrafts, indicating that the development of the Type 003 aircraft carrier's supporting equipment is under way.

"This week, China also revealed that the PLA Navy has set up a new joint training fleet for the far seas during the Spring Festival, including the Type 052D destroyer Yinchuan, the Type 054A frigate Hengyang, the Type 905 supply ship Chaganhu, the Type 071-class amphibious transport dock Wuzhishan and the Type 815A electronic surveillance ship Tianshuxing (Dubhe).

16 New ICBMs To Be Deployed In Inner Mongolia As Rocket Force Joins Joint Operations

"During the training drill, the fleet conducted actual combat training such as wartime replenishment, sea attack and air interception, with emphasis on joint command and joint operations. It was publicly disclosed for the first time that officers from the Air Force, the Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force took part in the drill.

"Separately, according to the U.S. sources, large-scale construction sites indicate that China is building at least 16 intercontinental ballistic missile silos near Jilantai, Inner Mongolia, to improve its strategic counterattack capability.

"At the 15th Abu Dhabi International Defense Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) this week, Chinese military enterprises displayed the Hongjian-12 anti-tank missile, the SR-5 multiple launch rocket system, the CM-501GA multi-purpose tactical precision strike system (land attack missile), and the Wing Loong II surveillance and strike integrated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The CM-501GA is similar to the U.S. military's 'Net Fire' non-line-of-sight (NLOS) strike system.

"It is also reported that the United Arab Emirates signed a contract with China to purchase 10 to 15 CR500 surveillance and strike helicopters (aka rotorcrafts) and the supporting Hongjian-12 during the expo, and Saudi Arabia acquired the TB001 drone (UAV) production line from China.

'International Military Situation: In Order To Deter China, The United States Intends To Deploy Missiles Along The First Island Chain'

"At the time when China disclosed its military spending for the new year, public opinion in the United States and Japan simultaneously discussed the possibility of building an anti-China missile network along the first island chain. In response to China's military expansion, the United States has put forward the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, or PDI, the core of which is the deployment of precision strike missile forces along the first island chain. Over the next six years, the U.S. military will invest 27.4 billion U.S. dollars in the Indo-Pacific region.

"According to reports, the U.S. military plans to deploy an integrated joint force precision strike network along the first island chain, an integrated air and missile defense capability along the second island chain, and a decentralized force capable of sustaining combat operations for long periods of time.

"In addition, the United States is also working with Japan, Australia, and India to form an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have dispatched or planned to dispatch warships to the South China Sea in response to the U.S. military's freedom of navigation operation. China should weigh and consider how to deal with the 'Seven-Nation Alliance.'

"A U.S. military officer recently wrote that the U.S. should send special forces to train pirates to attack Chinese merchant ships and allow U.S. defense contractors to carry out what he called 'lawful looting' of Chinese vessels.

"The U.S. Navy's USS Stennis will undergo a $3 billion refueling overhaul, scheduled to be completed by August 2025, according to the latest U.S. military news. Currently, only the USS Roosevelt and USS Eisenhower are available worldwide. The fire-damaged USS Bon Homme Richard will cost 30 million U.S. dollars to dismantle, but some voices said the money should be saved by sinking it to the bottom of the sea to feed the fish. The commander of the Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet has called for the replacement of the aging E-3 Sentry AWACS aircrafts.

"The U.S. Air Force retired its first B-1B strategic bomber to make way for the B-21 stealth bomber. Senior officials of the Air Force said that they hoped to replace F-16s and F-35s with 'Generation IV + or Generation V –' jets, thus putting an end to the U.S. military's hopes of a full fifth-generation fleet. The U.S. military plans to buy 1,763 F-35 jets, but will reportedly cut that to 1,050. The U.S. military has already planned to buy the F-15X jets. More than 700 F-35s have been axed because the jets are too expensive to build and maintain, and their core components are said to be heavily dependent on Chinese rare earths. Separately, Boeing's 'loyal wingman' stealth unmanned aerial vehicle designed for Australia has made its maiden flight.

"In addition, the Pentagon said it had made the development of Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV) weapons a top priority to counter threats from China and Russia. The United States at the same time also launched a 'LGM-30G Minuteman-III' intercontinental ballistic missile to a Pacific target, to prove that the U.S. missile troops are always on the alert. In the meantime, an American arms company began retrofitting M1A2T tanks for Taiwan, based on M1A2S tanks sold to Saudi Arabia.

"U.S. Allies South Korea and Japan also have the latest developments in their military industries. According to a report on March 1, the South Korean-developed KF-X fighter jet has been fitted with the U.S.-made F414-GE-400 engines and is scheduled to be assembled in April this year for its first flight in 2022. Some of the KF-X's technical equipment shows that it is not a 'Generation V' fighter as previously claimed, but a 'Generation IV plus' fighter. It is intended to replace the F-4E and F-5, as well as an alternative to the expensive F-35 stealth fighter.

"Japan's new stealthy frigate FFM No. 1 was named and launched on March 3. The 3,900-ton ship, named Mogami, is scheduled to enter service in 2022. The ship, which is equipped with advanced stealth technology, will strengthen the combat capability of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force after being commissioned."


[1], March 8, 2021. The article was written by Zhu When.

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