Defense spending in Asia on the rise; China leading the way
Chinese Paramilitary soldiers train outside their barracks in Beijing. Experts predict that military spending in Asia will top that in Europe for the first time this year,
October 16th, 2012
11:59 PM ET

Defense spending in Asia on the rise; China leading the way

By Larry Shaughnessy

A new report shows a trend of increased defense spending among Asia's major military powers, with China's military budget accounting for nearly half of all spending in the region. It's a trend that reflects one reason why the Pentagon is heavily focused on increasing its presence in the region.

According to official reports from China, defense spending there has increased to $90 billion in 2011 from $22.5 billion in 2000. It should be noted that skeptics believe China's official numbers are purposely low. For example, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that China's 2011 defense budget was much closer to $142 billion.

Either way, there's no doubt China is spending more on defense. That growth helped China surpass Japan in 2005 as the biggest defense spender in Asia, according to a study of Asian defense spending released this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The nation now accounts for 40% of military spending in Asia.

But China is not alone. All five of Asia's military powers, which also include India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, increased their defense budgets, especially in the past six years. The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates that by the end of this year, Asia will be spending more on defense than Europe.

This trend will likely continue, according to the center, because several nations are investing heavily in high-cost weapons systems, including India's Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, and Japan's planned purchase of at least 42 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

But consider this, if you combine the defense budgets for all five top Asian nations, it adds up to about $223 billion for 2011 ($275 billion if the Stockholm institute's estimates of China's spending are accurate). That's less than half of the United States' planned base defense budget (not including spending on the war in Afghanistan) for 2013.

It's also important to note that defense spending is not a very good predictor of a nation's success on the battlefield. As Winston Wheeler of the Project on Government Oversight pointed out last week, "If spending or the size and breadth of forces were the sole determinants of success, the British and French would have won in 1940, the Russians would have repelled the Germans in 1941." He also pointed out that the American colonists never would have beaten King George's army and navy, if defense spending were a good indicator of military success.

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Filed under: China • Defense Spending
soundoff (79 Responses)
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  8. Candace Narmore

    This is one reason why it is so important to support an increase in military funding. Let’s make sure our Military remains the best in the World. Our men and women serving in the military deserve nothing but the best in equipment and technology. May God bless and protect those even today who are serving our country around the world and in harms way.

    October 18, 2012 at 10:36 am | Reply
    • Hypocrisy Hunter

      yes, but spend on the right things. Like medical care forreservists injured on the battlefireld, notobsolete weapons systems that the Pentagon neither needs nor wants.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:58 am | Reply
      • Candace Narmore

        I agree our military members injured should get the best care possible.

        October 18, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  9. Keith

    Why do all the Warmongers call it Defense Spending? They call it the same thing in America and we haven't needed Defense in 60 years or so. Why not call it War preparation, or getting ready to kill people in other countries, or murder training.

    War pays in America and we will never stop it until we nationalize all the war factories and stop building mansions for the CEO's of Death and buying Congressmen with the profits of War.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  10. Lee Oates

    What else could we expect with the US attempting to bully the world?

    October 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  11. jack 1

    Our newest and biggest weapon in the military are gays. We put them on the front lines and they smack the enemy and soften them up.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • Ren Car

      I though our newest and biggest weapons in military are ignorant and bigotted extreme right wing lunatics? Their heads are so big yet empt. The military put WMD's in their empty heads, send them over the frontline and, when they are 300 yards from the enemy line the WMD's are detonated – Kaboom! It's way cheaper than carrying them on planes, and losing an ignorant and bigotted extreme right wing lunatic is pretty much a good thing to waste. No? Yes?

      October 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  12. jack 1

    China is spending more to for control over seaways against their Asian neighbors and the USA. the neighbors are spending more also to defend against China.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  13. Frank Lynn

    II worked on a cost assessment system to reign in overcharges by contractors at the DOD. With cost overruns taken into account, China has a MUCH larger budget than the US now. The draconian controls in China make it so contractors must adhere to budgets. We have no such controls, and can't even keep our banks in line. Take it to heart, people, the Chinese are doing things smarter than our government–they copy technology instead of buying it, they collect pieces of a downed stealth fighter and suddenly have a stealth fighter jet five years later...stop waving flags and smell the coffee. We are not the only smart kid on the block–and that myth among us has to change. If it doesn't, we are another failed empire.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  14. Over$$$

    No matter how much China spend on it's military, it will never rival Uncle Sam's over bloated military budget. The Pentagon's listing China as a threat to increase it. Industrial Military Complex in all it's glory, except the taxpayer's $$$ is going to go down the drain.....even more.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  15. fullexpirience

    CNN wrote: "It's a trend that reflects one reason why the Pentagon is heavily focused on increasing its presence in the region." The correct is the opposite, China is spending more on military due the heavy presence of US militar personel on the region....

    October 17, 2012 at 11:27 am | Reply
  16. JK

    We're in real trouble if we actually have to go to war for more that several reasons. One being, most steel is manufactured somewhere else (like, China, Germany "ironic"...etc.) We closed our own steel mills and shut down some of our oil refineries (Philly, PA) Computer technology has been pirated...... Our millitary is awsome but they need to tools to do their job.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
    • Lee Oates

      Don't worry, the next war will be over in about 30 minutes.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply


    October 17, 2012 at 9:28 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      Well posted, ZIMBABWE. How right you are! This so-called "defense" spending does need to be curtailed and how!

      October 17, 2012 at 10:06 am | Reply
  18. Chuk

    So what?! Wake me up when it reaches 1/10 of what U.S spends on defense. This is just an attempt be the right and some defense contractors to drum up more defense spending. What happened to reducing spending? So spending is a bad thing if it helps main street but great if it's for defense? Give me a break.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply
    • JonfromLI

      1/10? That's a joke, right? Is China's GNP 1/10 of the US Defense budget?

      October 17, 2012 at 9:27 am | Reply
      • George Patton

        One ten of our military spending amounts to $78.3B dollars but the Pentagon, as usual, plans to increase that. This proves just how much of a stranglehold the M.I.C.(military-industrial-complex) has on our government! This needs to stop!!!

        October 17, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • I guess you should wake up now

      Maybe you didn't get to the end of the article where it was explained that amount of money spent doesn't equal winning. We can't just ignore everyone else because we outspend them on defense. While you sleep, I'm thankful our government and military are keeping both eyes wide open. You probably couldn't fathom the amount of work being done to make sure you can slumber in peace.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:27 am | Reply
      • George Patton

        Gee whiz I guess you....., you sound like another weak minded Tea Partier praising the free-loading Pentagon. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!!!

        October 17, 2012 at 10:02 am |
      • Go somewhere else then

        Mr George Patton, if you are so displeased with this country then go live somewhere else. Have some appreciation for the sacrifice and hard work that has given you the freedom and peace you live in. Your right to vote, your right to attend the church of your choice or not attend any church, your right to protest, your right to work or be lazy. Every bit of freedom you have is because someone fought for it. I'm sure if you and like minded people had been in charge last century, you would have just handed control over to Hitler. Take some history courses, open your eyes.

        October 17, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Number4

      The US also spends a ton of money on healthcare but there is so much waste and bureaucracy in the healthcare system that outcomes are worse than countries who spend less. Spending the money effectively is more important than the amount of money spent.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:59 am | Reply
    • Brad76

      Contractors are all for handouts, as long as it's into their hands!

      October 17, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
    • jack 1

      China can get things done cheaper because they pay their workers very little so while they spend half as much they get twice as much hardware

      October 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  19. Chief Eagle

    The USA can balance bilateral trade by selling lots of weapons to China, and invite China to share the workload of containing the islamic jihadists who are the common enemies.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • souredgrapes

      That's an idealistic way of looking at it, however the Chinese would probably rather conquer the US with our weapons that we sell to them and our technology that they steal from the US, and say to hell with the Arabs!!!

      October 17, 2012 at 8:51 am | Reply
    • souredgrapes

      The Chinese are probably as feared to bother the Arabs as we have been so reluctant to really unleash full weaponry that is available to us and at our fingertips. We simply never really did all we could to put the Arabs in their place and eventually Iran will probably drop a nuke on the US while we sit oun our hands!

      October 17, 2012 at 8:54 am | Reply
  20. Al

    It's getting ready to be the worlds powerhouse, but they will be smarter, they will show their power, but they will allow countries to do what they shall do, even if it means allowing them to terminate each other. That will save the money and they will not follow the handout path of the United States.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:20 am | Reply
    • Chief Eagle

      The track record shows that the USA is the biggest war monger, the biggest arms exporter, and have murdered the most number of civilians over the past few decades and also in recent times.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:27 am | Reply
      • Bleh64

        So i guess the germans and russians didn't kill any civilians during world war 2 huh? I suppose that terrorists and jihadists only kill soldiers too right? What a stupid freakin statement Chief Turkey.

        October 17, 2012 at 9:25 am |
      • Please share your source of data Chief Eagle

        To Chief Eagle, you do not have any data to support those claims. Your claims are totally false. And to Al, you are right. The US is limited in what it can do because we have a conscience and want to help everybody including our own enemies. We actually care about human suffering and try to make a positive difference. China's government could care less. They control and limit access to info to their people, so I suspect their people (through no fault of their own) think the rest of the world is hateful and out to get them. I think they would let us all die in a heartbeat without a single care or second thought. I hope I am wrong though.

        October 17, 2012 at 9:44 am |
      • Brad76

        @Bleh64 – What are you smokin'? The Russians were defending themselves from fascist Germany!

        October 17, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  21. Bob B

    And who do you think is helping pay for it?

    October 17, 2012 at 8:05 am | Reply
    • Chief Eagle

      China is paying for their own arms, whereas the usa is using borrowed money to pay for theirs.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:29 am | Reply
      • justin

        the usa is the biggest spender in recent times of the african elephnat it is required to be 350 million times more then a snake

        October 17, 2012 at 8:47 am |
      • real_personn

        ...USA is the biggest 2ndary employer(outsource and supply) for China, and to top that purchaser of their shoddy goods. The Chinese gov has their hands in all business dealings within the country. So yes, the USA is paying for the military might of China.

        October 17, 2012 at 9:03 am |
      • US is paying for it

        The American people are paying through the nose for it. We spend huge amounts of money on buying products from China. Our obsession with having "stuff" is going to be the end of us. We send money to Venezuela who has openly stated they want to do away with us.

        October 17, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  22. J Walker

    And the US would have won in Vietnam!

    October 17, 2012 at 7:54 am | Reply
    • Joe

      Shhhhh, and korea. But let's not talk about those. They're a bit embarrassing.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
  23. Dasea

    The debate was orchestrated perfectly. The response was orchestrated perfectly. But, the growing dissent with both political parties was withheld from the cameras. The revolution is not being televised. The spinning iron of a new country is guaranteed to gain more mass and momentum from Nov 3rd 2012 – Nov 2nd 2016. Thanks – Dastreagus Letobeiter North American Social Ethical Anarchy / Anarchy Youth Chicago

    October 17, 2012 at 7:53 am | Reply
  24. dark matter

    what is means of increasing power? preparing to killed the people ? not means to defence her country ...china have an enemy ? or china is the enemy of humanity

    October 17, 2012 at 7:37 am | Reply
  25. tdsd

    Why would anyone worry about Made in China weapons?

    October 17, 2012 at 7:15 am | Reply
    • Joe

      When all the made in China components inside the american weapons fail, China won't be worried.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:20 am | Reply
  26. levend

    Don't forget its cheaper in china to get hardware so I wonder what is the US equivalent of.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:57 am | Reply
    • Joe

      Also their soldiers accept lower pay. Also they don't have to pay middle men like dick chaney. If you knew the real equivalent of bang for buck, you will cr*p your pants.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  27. thedarkelf

    Im thinking that when they feel the times right they might make a move on their neighbors. Why else would they spend so much. The living conditions for rural people in china is hard. Lot of poor people going hungry the government want to keep them that way. It makes them pliable when it comes to suggestion.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:34 am | Reply
    • Peter

      By your logic we would be itching to invade Canada and Mexico !

      October 17, 2012 at 7:29 am | Reply
      • Joe

        No. Your people are too fat, and the only thing they will invade is the fridge.

        October 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
      • Peter

        Sorry, but at 6'2 /184 I still fit into my high school clothes.
        Then again, I am German...

        October 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  28. bfire

    The USA spends 750 billion a year on defense compared to China's 95-220 billion. We've been spending 750 billion for years now. Spending this much on defense is a great way for us to go bankrupt and if we go bankrupt there will be no money for defense spending.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:26 am | Reply
  29. robertd188

    My guess is China's budget is 220 billion, so we need to be aware of what we spend so our troops are not in danger,

    October 17, 2012 at 4:42 am | Reply
    • cmmrc

      and more, so U.S. can defeat china.

      October 17, 2012 at 6:33 am | Reply
    • Jason

      Cool, then that means they sped about 3 times less money than us to support an army twice the size of ours. Making each individual soldier in the US 6 times more well funded than his/ her chinese counter part. So. what are we worried about again?

      October 17, 2012 at 8:07 am | Reply
  30. XtremelyLoud

    China's defense spending on the rise. U.S.'s defense spending in the toilet. Good job America.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:46 am | Reply
    • ur dumb

      ur dmb.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:33 am | Reply
    • MightyMoo

      Considering lots of projects for defense spending in the US are OVER budget and OVER due on their delivery dates with problems after delivery, it's a good idea to hold defense contractors feet to the fire with spending cuts if they can't deliver on what they promise.

      (I'm looking at you F-22 and F35.)

      October 17, 2012 at 7:05 am | Reply
    • Jason

      You guys are spending 700 billion on your military. That's way too much.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:07 am | Reply
  31. Keksi

    Or you could use example where 28,000 Talibans with 150,000 dollar budget and 3 Toyota pick up trucks are keeping America that spends 800 billion dollars a year in war for over 10 years .

    October 17, 2012 at 1:40 am | Reply
    • OneWhoKnows

      What a simple arguement. The reason we are still in Afghanistan is that the only people who really want to rule the place is the Taliban. We have given the Afghan people a choice between the Taliban and a criminal. Meanwhile, our allies Paskistan) prop up the Taliban from the protection of their own borders to make sure the still have leverage once our inevitable pull out occures. If only the world was as simple as you seem to understand it.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
    • nick

      US should consider TOYOTA than AM Motors (HUMVEE)

      October 17, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
      • khanikun

        We barely use HMMWVs anymore. Home station, we have regular Ford F-150s and such. Deployed, we're rolling around in gators or MRAPs. HMMWVs are a death sentence on the roads of Afghanistan.

        October 17, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • Schmedley

      Keksi, since you seem unable to comprehend the situation fully, I'll explain it:

      For the US, the public cares if 1 or 2 soldiers are killed, if civilians are injured, or if you fail once even if you have succeeded 100 times.

      For the Taliban, no one cares if 300 fighters are killed, or if the the Taliban kill civilians intentionally, or if they fail 100 times. They only need to succeed once.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:58 am | Reply
  32. Tembisa

    Reblogged this on World Chaos.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:25 am | Reply

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