China boasts the second-biggest military budget in the world after the US. Officially, its outlays are still about five times less. Many analysts, though, believe China significantly understates its expenditure.
Last month, the US Defense Intelligence Agency estimated that the true figure last year, before this latest boost, was US$240 billion, about twice the declared budget.
If China believes that kind of spending will go unanswered in Tokyo, Manila, Seoul and Taipei, where governments have direct access to a US military-industrial complex craving new business, it is dreaming. It is all a bit too reminiscent of the movie Dr. Strangelove for me. China says it is trying to reassure the world, only to unnerve it to the benefit of arms dealers.