25 March 2013

“Demystifying China’s Defence Spending: Less Mysterious in the Aggregate”–FirstView Version of Article Now Available on The China Quarterly Website

Adam P. Liff and Andrew S. Erickson, “Demystifying China’s Defence Spending: Less Mysterious in the Aggregate,” The China Quarterly, available on CJO 2013, doi:10.1017/S0305741013000295; published online by Cambridge University Press 25 March 2013. 

A FirstView version of the forthcoming article online may be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0305741013000295.

This FirstView version of the article, also know as a final Version of Record (VoR), hereby replaces the Accepted Manuscript (AM) [a preliminary version of the article], the contents of which differ slightly and which is now obsolete. Henceforth, any formal citations and page numbers should quote and otherwise reference only the VoR listed above. Thank you for your understanding!


China’s limited transparency concerning its defence spending harms strategic trust, but foreign analysts often lose sight of important realities. Specific details remain unclear, but China’s defence spending overall is no mystery – it supports PLA modernization and personnel development as well as its announced objectives of securing China’s homeland and asserting control over contested territorial and maritime claims, with a focus on the Near Seas (the Yellow, East, and South China seas). This article offers greater context and a wider perspective for Chinese and Western discussions of China’s rise and its concomitant military build-up, through a nuanced and comprehensive assessment of its defence spending and military transparency.

Keywords: China; defence spending; military budget; rising powers; People’s Liberation Army; PLA