Damned Lies and the Military Budgets of China and the USA

China announced an official 2015 military budget of $145 billion, which is a 10.1% increase from 2014. The Pentagon and global arms bodies estimate China’s actual military spending may be anywhere from 40 to 50 percent more because the official budget doesn’t include the costs of high-tech weapons imports, research and development, and other programs. A 50% adjusted accounting of China’s defense spending would be about $220 billion in 2015. However, even though China spends three to four times what the UK or Russia are spending annually on defense, China’s military and military systems are in many ways inferior to the military of those countries. However, the higher spending and improvements in research and technology are allowing China to rapidly catch up. China will become a clear number two in actual conventional military capability in the 2020s. Russia and the USA will still have a clear advantage in nuclear capability.

China’s military spending is about 2% of its overall GDP. US official military spending is about 4% of GDP.

China’s official military spending is still less than a third of the U.S. defense budget, a proposed $534 billion for 2015 along with $51 billion for the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The US figures do not include the costs of the Veterans administration or interest from the defense related share of the debt. Including all those defense related items would increase the accounting of US defense spending to over $1.3 trillion in 2015. An all related defense spending level is about 7% of US GDP.


InflationAdjustedDefenseSpending” by Johnpseudo – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

SOURCES – Wikipedia, NY Times, US Government Spending