Sydney, Australia: During Xi Jinping’s 10-year reign, China built the world’s largest navy, revamped the world’s largest standing army, and amassed nuclear and ballistic weapons to plague all enemies. Xi’s next five-year term is likely to accelerate an arms race in the Asia-Pacific region as China’s neighbors scramble to get in step. Weapons purchases have surged across the region, with South Korea developing a blue-water navy and Australia buying nuclear submarines.

Defense spending in the Asia-Pacific region exceeded $1 trillion last year alone, according to statistics from the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Spending has nearly doubled in the last decade in China, the Philippines, and Vietnam. South Korea, India and Pakistan are not far behind either.

Even Japan has proposed a record defense budget, citing an “increasingly tough” security environment and is nudging toward an end to its long-standing “no first strike” policy. Malcolm Davis, a former Australian defense official now at the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy, said: “All the major powers in the Indo-Pacific are basically ready to respond to China’s military modernization as quickly as possible. I am doing,” he said.

no more paper tiger

For years, the PLA was seen as ill-equipped and ineffective, vilified by one historian as “the world’s largest military museum.” Equipped with antiquated Soviet-derived weapons, riddled with corruption, it was primarily an infantry unit, and did not have an illustrious record in foreign campaigns.

The PLA’s participation in the Korean War claimed nearly 200,000 Chinese lives. The 1979 invasion of Vietnam cost tens of thousands more and has mostly been blown from official history. Some reforms were already underway when Xi became commander-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army in 2013.

It began in the 1990s, when Jiang Zemin was shocked and awed by the military power of the US military during the Gulf War and the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. But strategy consultant Alexander Neal told AFP, “It wasn’t until Xi Jinping came along that the effort started to translate into capability.”

The PLA then had just launched its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (Ukrainian modified ship), and the J-15 multirole fighter based on the Sukhoi prototype. Beijing’s military budget has increased for the 27th straight year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

“Only Competitor”

Today, China boasts two active aircraft carriers, hundreds of long- and medium-range ballistic missiles, thousands of military aircraft, and a navy that exceeds even the United States. After China launched a short-term and partial blockade of Taiwan in August, US military chiefs tacitly acknowledged that preventing the real thing would not be easy, even for Washington. has a very large navy, and if they want to deploy ships around Taiwan, they can do it very well.

Meanwhile, China’s nuclear arsenal is growing exponentially and is likely now land-, sea- and air-launchable, according to the Pentagon, echoing the U.S. nuclear triad. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, China has about 350 nuclear warheads, twice as many as during the Cold War.

US intelligence agencies predict that this stockpile could double to 700 by 2027. A new nuclear missile silo is being built in the northwestern part of the country. Washington is pulling no punches when describing the scale of the power and ambitions of the People’s Republic of China.

“China is the only competitor capable of combining economic, diplomatic, military and technological forces to meet the continuing challenge of a stable and open international system,” a Pentagon report last year. the book said.

“Beijing seeks to reshape the international order to better align with its authoritarian system and national interests.” Like other hardware, it was this perceived global is the intention.

President Xi’s “Great Grace”

Many of the region’s high-priced military projects clearly have deterrence in mind – that is, to impede Beijing’s naval militia’s “little blue men” or conventional attacks. North Korea plans to develop a naval force that can operate in remote locations, but experts say this has little to do with the threat posed by North Korea’s rapid arming.

Australia plans to acquire eight nuclear submarines, backed by the United Kingdom and the United States, as part of the so-called AUKUS deal. Canberra is also discussing acquiring hypersonic weapons, long-range ballistic missiles, and even her cutting-edge B-21 stealth bomber, which can strike virtually anywhere in the world undetected. can do.

For Davis, all of these projects demonstrate China’s increasing ability to shape the region to its will. “We are getting closer,” he said, and Asia-Pacific allies are beefing up their own defenses in response. has given me.” – AFP

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