US ‘worried’ about China military budget: Report

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The United States “has long worried about the Chinese military’s lack of openness” although Beijing announced an increase in its military budget, according to a report.

The Foreign Policy said in an article on Friday that China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is “still a black box” and it keeps foreigners “in the dark” because it is not clear about its spending.

The report came two days after China announced that it is increasing its military budget by 12.2 percent to a total of $131.6 billion this year.

China had spent about $117.7 billion on national defense budget in 2013, a 10.7 percent increase from 2012.

The report rejected the figures, saying the US Defense Intelligence Agency stated in February that China’s military budget reached $240 billion in 2013.

The US Department of Defense is concerned about the case while Pentagon’s proposed budget for 2015 is $496 billion. Beijing’s budget is still less than a third of Washington’s amount.

“There’s a big difference between what you know and what we know,” a top Pentagon official, who asked to speak on background because of the sensitivity of the matter, told The Foreign Policy.

“They mock us some times, for how much we repeat” this call for a higher level of transparency, the official added.

The report said the biggest hole in US understanding of the Chinese military, which is the world’s largest standing army, appears to be in “how it makes decisions.”

“We are still pretty much in the dark” about decision-making, both in terms of personnel and other areas, said a defense official. “We have pretty much zero insight into how the PLA makes decisions,” said the military researcher. “Zero.”

When asked about how much control Chinese President Xi Jinping has over the PLA, the senior Pentagon official replied, “Nobody knows what Xi’s control over the PLA is.”

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