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"China's Defense Budget in Context: How Under-Reporting and Differing Standards and Economies Distort the Picture,".

How the U.S. military racks and stacks against China in capabilities is a constant discussion in Washington and there are no clear answers.

This 37-page Heritage Foundation report attempts to compare the two defense budgets.

"Comparing the military expenditures of two nations is a challenging task under the best of circumstances," author Frederico Bartels writes. The Chinese Communist Party publicizes very little about how it funds the nation's military, he notes.

Bartels spends several pages explaining exactly why it is so hard to pull out reliable data on Chinese military spending.

The numbers are expressed in the official currency, the renminbi. And by most charts, China's military spending is dramatically increasing.

Nevertheless, China has some annual United Nations reporting requirements, which is a starting point. It provides those numbers using the other currency, the yuan, and they must be taken with a grain of salt, the author notes.

Converting the renminbi or yuan to U.S. dollars also makes comparisons tricky as they may be undervalued.

Another problem is calculating China's defense research-and-development expenditures. The nation doesn't publicly release any of those figures and the blending of civil and military industries makes that picture particularly blurry, the report says.

It all comes down to purchasing power, Bartels concludes. The cheaper price of labor and goods gives China a big advantage. Bartels uses several different metrics to surmise that the nation's military expenditures are growing as fast, or maybe even faster, than believed.

By Frederico Bartels, The Heritage Foundation

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Title Annotation:FURTHER READING
Comment:"China's Defense Budget in Context: How Under-Reporting and Differing Standards and Economies Distort the Picture,".(FURTHER READING)
Author:Bartels, Frederico
Publication:National Defense
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:May 1, 2020
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