China’s Defence Spending Surges Amid Global Military Buildup, Tensions with the U.S. and Closer Ties to Russia

In recent years, China has significantly increased its defence spending, underscoring its growing military ambitions and the evolving global geopolitical landscape. The surge in military expenditures has raised concerns among global observers, particularly in relation to China’s evolving relationship with Russia and its escalating tensions with the United States.

China’s defence budget has witnessed a steady and substantial rise over the past decade. In 2022, it reached a record high of $261 billion, making it the world’s second-largest military spender, trailing only behind the United States. This staggering increase has been driven by multiple factors, including China’s desire to modernise its military capabilities, secure its regional interests, and assert itself as a global power.

Chinese polices, Shanghai, China, May 1, 2019.

Amidst this uptick in defence spending, China has actively pursued closer ties with Russia, fostering a robust strategic partnership between the two nations. The Sino-Russian relationship has evolved from mere cooperation to a level of coordination that includes joint military exercises, technology transfers, and defence industry collaboration. This alignment has enabled both countries to bolster their military capabilities and serve as a counterweight to the perceived dominance of the United States on the global stage.

Furthermore, China’s military expansion has become increasingly intertwined with its territorial claims in the South China Sea, leading to heightened tensions with neighboring countries and the United States. The Chinese government’s assertiveness in asserting its claims over disputed islands and its construction of military facilities in the region have raised concerns among other Southeast Asian nations and prompted the U.S. to increase its military presence in the area.

The escalating conflict between China and the United States has extended beyond mere rhetoric, with both nations engaging in a series of trade disputes, technological competition, and military posturing. The United States, perceiving China as a strategic rival, has ramped up its defence budget, placing a renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific region. The Biden administration has sought to strengthen alliances with regional partners, aiming to maintain a balance of power and ensure a rules-based international order.

China’s defence spending also reverberates globally, contributing to an overall trend of increasing military expenditures across the world. Several nations, including Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, and European countries, have augmented their defence budgets to counter emerging security challenges and address regional tensions. This global military buildup has prompted concerns about an arms race, diverting resources from social and economic development.

While the precise intentions behind China’s expanding defence budget remain a subject of debate, it is clear that China’s military ambitions are on the rise. The growth in defence spending, coupled with closer ties to Russia and escalating tensions with the United States, underscores the shifting dynamics of global power. As the world navigates this new geopolitical landscape, it is crucial for international actors to engage in open dialogue, prioritise diplomacy, and seek peaceful resolutions to prevent an escalation of conflicts that could have far-reaching consequences.