China, the world’s second-largest defense spender behind the U.S., launched a website designed to modernize and provide more information about its weapons acquisitions. According to an article by the state-run news agency Xinhua:
“Under the General Armament Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), weain.mil.cn provides information on the country’s weapon and armament needs, relevant policies, procurement notices, enterprise lists and technology.”
That link didn’t work when we clicked on it. And while a cached version of the site did, it didn’t have an English translation.
Still, for Mandarin-speaking China-watchers, the website pledges to provide updated information twice a year — the first working day in January and July — “on arms purchases made in the previous months and give details of its upcoming equipment needs so that the companies can present it with their offers.”
China spent $171 billion on its military in 2013, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks global defense expenditures. It was outspent only by the U.S., which allocated $618 billion in military funding, according to the organization.
While defense spending is flattening in the U.S., it’s increasing by a much higher percentage in China. Indeed, Beijing has almost tripled its military expenditures over the past decade, according to SIPRI. (The group’s estimates for China are higher than official figures because they include additional spending on research and development, the paramilitary People’s Armed Police, military construction, pensions and arms exports.)
The funding has been used to develop such weapons as the J-20 fifth-generation fighter jet; the Dong-Feng 21D anti-ship ballistic missile; anti-satellite weaponry including the SC-19 ballistic missile; landing platform dock ships, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines; offensive cyberattack software and other so-called anti-access, anti-denial technologies.
The money has also fueled a rising defense posture that contributed to tensions in the region. China, for example, is in a territorial dispute with Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea because of their potential military and economic benefits.
Unlike most other countries, China imports almost as many military goods as it exports. But that could change as it develops more advanced technology. Pakistani officials, for instance, have reportedly begun talks with their Chinese counterparts to buy the FC-31 stealth fighter jet.