In a different direction

In these difficult economic times, I can understand why this might be a secondary priority to people, but what’s going on overseas is extremely important. The world’s looking less stable by the day and our president has given a sign of weakness.

However, my eyes are not where many people are looking: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya. I believe there’s a major threat that we’re overlooking: China.

I’ve been watching them for months and the more I learn, the more alarmed I become. Over the past several years, they have been rapidly building up their armed forces, preparing to launch their first carrier, testing a new generation of ballistic missiles, including anti-satellite weapons, and expanding their air force and air defenses.

To put this in perspective, here is their official military budget from 2001 to 2011.

2001: 17 billion

2002: 20 billion (increase of 17.6 percent)

2003: 22 billion

2004: 25 billion (11.6 percent increase)

2005: 29.9 billion (12.6 percent increase)

2006:  35 billion (14.7 percent increase)

2007: 45 billion (17.8 percent increase)

2008: 59 billion (18 percent increase)

2009: 70 billion (14.9 percent increase)

2010: 78 billion (11 percent increase)

2011: 91.5 billion (12.7 percent increase)

Based on the data, their military budget has multiplied over 5 times in the past 10 years. Sometime in March, they will announce their military budget for this year, which I expect will be around 105 billion.

Now even though their increase has been very rapid, our military plans to spend 662 billion this year, so we’re 6.5 times larger than they are. Ergo, there’s not much to worry about, right?

Well, not quite. There’s a widespread belief, and I happen to share it that their real military spending is far higher than the official figure. I’ve seen some estimates go as high as 2.5 times their official budget. I wouldn’t put it that high, but based on what I know about their military, I would put it at 60-70 percent higher than the official budget, in addition to things that may not be officially on the books. That would make the unofficial budget about 150 billion.

Now let’s use it against our budget in Purchasing Power Parity terms. Ours is put at 100, since we’re still the world’s leading economy. Theirs hovers around 60, so the same goods and services, assuming they can afford them, which most can’t, would cost 60 percent as much. If you apply that to their military budget 150 times 1.6 is 250 billion.

In addition, let’s look at their increasingly aggressive behavior over the past several years. They have staked claims to virtually the entire South China Sea, overlapping with the claims of Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Late last year, the Philippines were told to “Prepare for the sound of cannons”.

In 2005, a high-ranking officer in the Chinese army said the following: “If the Americans are determined to interfere [then] we will be determined to respond. We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian [a city in central China]. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”

A year later, a diplomat and at the time Chinese ambassador to the U.N. also said this at the top of his lungs:

“The moment that Taiwan declares independence, supported by whomever, China will have no choice but to [use] whatever means available to my government. Nobody should have any illusions on that. …

It’s not a matter of how big Taiwan is, but for China, one INCH of the territory is more valuable than the LIVES of our people.”

It’s better for the U.S. to shut up, keep quiet. That’s much, much better. China’s population is 6 times or 5 times the United States. Why blame China? No. forget it. It’s high time to shut up. It’s a nation’s sovereign right to do what is good for them. But don’t tell us what’s good for China. Thank you very much.”

China is a country that we need to start looking at and looking at with far more scrutiny than we currently are. At the rate they’re building up, they will match our military capability in 6-10 years and unlike us, they don’t have overseas commitments all over the world.Let’s remember the last time a country rapidly mobilized and concealed as much of it as they possibly could.