Deng Xiaoping’s ascent to the pinnacle of Chinese power inaugurated a high-growth economic transition, which also kick-started the modernisation of the moribund People’s Liberation Army in 2000. The trigger came in the form of the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1995-96.
In the next 20 years, China’s defence budget would grow from $14.6 billion or 121 billion Yuan at the turn of the millennium to $178 billion or 1.268 trillion Yuan by 2020. Given the opacity of Chinese defence numbers, independent estimates believe the figure to be much higher. In comparison, India will spend $65.86 billion, and Japan $47 billion in the current fiscal.
A full decade
The Chinese defence ramp-up to protect its undefined core or fundamental interests set alarm bells ringing in influential Asian capitals in the early 2000s itself.