Chinese Leader Fast Tracks to Military Modernization at All Cost

August 23, 2021 Updated: August 23, 2021

Commentary

Chinese regime leader Xi Jinping touted the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) military centenary goal to build the world’s strongest force by 2027 in an internal meeting on July 30.

The year 2027 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army). Xi’s goal can be seen as a dangerous sign that he intends to use all armed might to indulge in aggressive wars.

Xi has actually advanced the military developments ahead of schedule. On July 31, 2020, Xi voiced the CCP’s plan to accelerate “the development of strategic, cutting-edge, disruptive technologies” and “the integrated development of a mechanized, informationized, and intelligent military.” The CCP uses a whole-society approach and calls it “military-civil fusion strategy.”

Since Xi took power in 2012, the CCP has been running fast along the military path in its national strategy. Though this may have something to do with Xi personally, it is more related to the CCP’s violent and warlike nature.

CCP’s Military Spending ‘the Second-Highest in the World:’ Research Report

Notoriously opaque in disclosing information, the CCP’s actual military spending is likely much higher than what has been reported.

Nonetheless, the CCP’s military spending is “the second highest” in the world and “has risen for 26 consecutive years, the longest series of uninterrupted increases by any country,” according to an April 2021 report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a research institute that provides data and analysis on global military spending.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a U.S. think tank, revealed the CCP’s military expansion in a February 2020 article, quoting analysts’ estimates of the CCP’s military spending to be as high as $238 billion in 2018—higher than in the CCP’s public report.

In comparison, the 2020 estimate from SIPRI pegs the CCP’s nominal defense spending at $252.3 billion—almost 1.4 times higher than the official figure.

In May 2020, the CCP announced a yearly defense budget of $183.5 billion.

In 2020, the CCP’s premier Li Keqiang clearly acknowledged that 600 million people have a monthly income of only $140, yet the CCP is running fast on the road of militarism at all costs.

Lindsay Maizland, author of the CFR report, noted that the CCP’s traditional military services of the Army, Navy, and Air Force have been significantly upgraded both in terms of the number of weaponry and in high-tech use since 2015—when Xi was “pushing to transform the PLA from a largely territorial force into a major maritime power.”

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese J-15 fighter jets on the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military drills in the South China Sea, on Jan. 2, 2017. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

For example, the CCP’s military has elevated its rocket force, responsible for maintaining its conventional and nuclear missiles, to become an independent service.

Another example is the Strategic Support Force, established in 2015 and responsible for the military’s space operations including those with satellites, “manages the PLA’s electronic warfare, cyber warfare, and psychological operations, among other high-tech missions,” Maizland said.

Emphasis on AI in Military Build-up: Domestic Propaganda

To comply with Xi’s instruction, the CCP’s official media CCTV published an article in November 2020 on the importance of intelligent technologies. Wu Zhizhong, a researcher at Chinese military think tank, the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said in the article that China “must seize the opportunity of the technological revolution and take extraordinary measures to advance intelligent technologies.”

Intelligent technologies involve the substantial use of unmanned equipment and technology, i.e., artificial intelligence (AI).

Wu emphasized in the article his belief that “the United States has developed or used a large number of Small Diameter Bombs, smart missiles, drones, and robotic soldiers” as a strategic measure to target China and Russia.

Actually, the CCP’s accomplishments in military modernization of weaponry, significant progress in information technologies, as well as the use of artificial intelligence technologies demonstrates that this is the field that likely has a strategy for targeting the United States.

In October 2020, Michael Brown, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, a U.S. think tank, told the National Defense that the CCP has already led the United States in many areas of AI.

Brown revealed areas in which the CCP is ahead, such as “facial recognition software, small drones, quantum communications, telecommunications, genetic data, cryptocurrency, and more.”

It is important to note the danger of a possible unmanned war through the use of AI. If such a war gives the power of life and death to an autonomous weapon system, it could be as destructive as the outbreak of a nuclear war. The CCP has no moral bottom line, and it dares to develop any kind of AI. If the CCP takes the lead in AI, I believe all of mankind will face danger.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Wang He
Wang He
Wang He has master’s degrees in law and history, and has studied the international communist movement. He was a university lecturer and an executive of a large private firm in China. Wang now lives in North America and has published commentaries on China’s current affairs and politics since 2017.