A top Pentagon official told lawmakers on December 5 that the Chinese Defence Ministry budget has increased by 850 per cent in the last 20 years from $20 billion to $170 billion in 2018. He added that the real figures are significantly higher than China's official budget. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John C Rood said that China continues to add to its capabilities and is increasingly provocative with its activities in the South China Sea and in Africa, where China established its first overseas base ever in Djibouti in 2017. The country possesses one of the largest militaries in the world.
In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rood said that China's official defense budget has grown 850 percent over the past 20 years from USD 20 billion to USD 170 billion in 2018.
The Defence Under-Secretary added that China has also spent in ways that are specifically targeted at key US military advantages with new capabilities in such areas as space, cyber, electronic warfare, undersea warfare, fighter aircraft, bombers equipped with long-range cruise missiles, and other anti-access, area denial (A2AD) capabilities. Citing examples, Rood said China is using cyber capabilities to advance it's military and strategic. He said that the Chinese Ground Forces alone exceed one million personnel. Likewise, its navy has 300 ships and 250 coast guards and the airforce has over 2,600 aircraft. About 750-1500 short range, 150-450 medium-range, and 80-160 intermediate-range variants ballistic missile arsenal is also possed by China, Rood said.
Rood further said that the Chinese development of nuclear capabilities is extensive, adding that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy intends to increase the number of operational SSBN class submarines from four to six. About 90 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, including road-mobile delivery systems, form its Rocket Forces. Rounding out their nuclear triad is the PLA Air Force's operational H-6K, and the prospect of a future nuclear-capable stealth strategic bomber, estimated to debut in 2025, he added. Rood said that the delivery systems equipped with nuclear weapons give China several ways of reaching the United States and exemplify China's large-scale effort to build larger and more capable forces armed with nuclear weapons. The militarization of the South China Sea, the development of offensive cyber and space capabilities, and legal and illicit efforts to acquire sensitive or advanced dual-use technologies to support military objectives were amongst the other points discussed by the senior Pentagon official with the lawmakers. On the other hand, Senator Jim Inhofe, Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, said while China was increasing its military spending, the US under the Obama administration "actually reduced" its defence appropriations by 25 per cent.