Fears of China Create an Asian Arms Race
China can become a dangerous world power despite the fact that western companies have invested in that country to make products. As China becomes bigger and more important on the world stage, there will be some muscle flexing of China's military forces locally. China has already surpassed Japan in economic growth. The Chinese political apparatus is not always on the "same page" as its military counterparts. The Chinese leaders may want to coexist peacefully with its neighbors and world, while its military leadership, has different ideas. This is not to say they have a grand design in the long term to conquer the world, but regionally, one could easily assume that it could happen as China's military forces reach a point where they can project its strength. Taiwan certainly is on the radar, perhaps the oil fields in the South China Sea, Kashmir India is a distinct possibility since there was already a war in 1962 over it. One can see how as China consumes more and more world resources for products and its citizens, friction about them and who gets them, could spark conflict. We are not talking about 20 years from now, but probably with 10 years or sooner.
China has a defense budget of 81 billion dollars, almost 2,400,000 million troops, 6550 tanks, 164 attack helicopters, 65 submarines, 1907 combat aircraft. Nearly all of the weapons and their upgrades are Russian made because Russia is need of money. China has spent 17 billion of Russian weapons in the last nine years alone and $150 billion obtaining other weapons and improving their own. Next year, China's first aircraft carrier will sail, increasing its ability to project military power, its new stealth fighter, J-20, appeared recently looking like a US F-22 stealth. Some reports indicate China obtain stealth material from a downed US F-117 bomber in Croatia in 1995. By comparison, India, China's long time foe, has 1.3 million troops, 4000 tanks, 86 attack helicopters, 16 submarines, 655 combat aircraft and one aircraft carrier. Japan has only 230,000 troops, 880 tanks,16 submarines, 340 combat aircraft.
China has been securing the shipping lanes by building ports in Pakistan, Sri lanka and Bangladesh for its energy and oil needs that arrive from the Middle East and Africa and that must pass through the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca. The Chinese are allowed to built them in exchange for a large influx of cash into the local economy. This is a major concern to India because its oil and fuel must also use the shipping lanes and each nation simply tolerates one another for now. India is the 4th largest importer of Saudi oil and coal from Australia and Indonesia. Because of the fears, India is spending $32 billion in military equipment.
A recent report stated that China is close to equaling the US military power in the Western Pacific rim area. What if the Chinese attempt to deny access to shipping lanes or uses its ballistic missiles to attack US bases in Guam and Japan. China and Vietnam are already feuding about the oil and gas riches of the South China Sea, which China claims is theirs alone. So, Vietnam, to fend off the Chinese desires, ironically, opened the US built Cam Ranh Bay port (built during the Vietnam war) to foreign navies. This effectively puts the hold on Chinese ambitions.
The flash points for conflict between China and others in the immediate region will be over resources or shipping lanes that China needs. It is a "given' that when this arises, the USA will be called up to check the Chinese, because, let's face it, why else would China spend so much on military arms? They are thinking ahead to a different time. A time that is fast approaching.