China: Yang Xiaoguang says sanctions from UK are ‘unfair’
Over the last decade, Xi Jinping has more than doubled China’s budget for its military. For this year, the Communist leader has invested 1.355 trillion yuan – the equivalent of £152 billion – but analysts believe the country spends more on defence than it reports.
To date, Beijing’s Navy is the largest in the world with around 350 ships and submarines, with more than 130 major surface combatants.
However, an expert has said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is not invincible as China has not fought in a war in more than 40 years.
Oriana Skylar Mastro, an expert in Chinese security policy at Stanford University, warned how the PLA would perform in combat is the “million-dollar question”.
She said: “No officer in the US military considers that orders might not be carried out… if you tell your troops to charge a hill, they charge a hill.
China and Russia ramp up their military
Russian President Vladimir Putin
“In China, that’s a huge uncertainty, whether the troops would actually run toward the bullets, instead of away.”
Ms Mastro added how “Xi Jinping doesn’t know and this is the thing that imposes the most caution on Chinese leadership, the uncertainty of how the Chinese military is actually going to perform”.
On the other hand, two-thirds of the Russian military budget will be spent on purchasing and updating military gear.
The £44.1billion budget is slightly lower than the budget Britain has on improving its military.
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China ramps up its military
Unlike the UK – which is cutting its force to 148 tanks – Vladimir Putin’s nation has not neglected conventional firepower as other countries focus on a potential cyberwar.
Pavel Felgenhaur, a Moscow-based military analyst, said Moscow still believes “tanks win wars” and are ready for a tank fight against Ukraine.
Mr Felgenhaur told the Telegraph: “Russians believe that tanks win wars, and now they’re ready for a big tank battle against Ukraine or in other places, and they have been training and demonstrating their capability to swiftly mobilise hundred of thousands of men and large amounts of equipment.”
As China boasts the largest navy in the world, Russia has the world’s largest tank fleet with more than 15,000 tanks.
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China’s military power
Moscow also has the fourth-largest number of military personnel with 900,000 troops.
Nato also believes Russia has no more than 10,000 troops near the border.
This comes after Beijing and Moscow called for a UN meeting to seek international support against EU and US sanctions.
In a joint statement earlier this month, they said: “At a time of increasing global political turbulence, a summit of the permanent members of the UN Security Council is particularly necessary to establish direct dialogue about ways to resolve humankind’s common problems.
Russia’s military power
“We oppose the politicisation of human rights issues and reject interference in other countries internal afairs.”
Last week, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov described China as a “friend… strategic partner… a like-minded country”.
Mr Lavrov added “there are no relations with the European Union as an organisation. The entire infrastructure of these relations has been destroyed.
“If Europe broke off these relations… and we have only individual European countries that want to be guided by their national interests, then this probably objectively leads to the fact that our relations with China are developing faster.”
Russia invests into their military
However, Cheng Yijun, a specialist in China-Russia relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, warned an alliance between the two countries is not the best choice for Beijing.
He said: “There is no doubt that the two countries are walking closer under the pressure from the US, but there are more differences than common ground between them.
“Forging an alliance with Russia is not the best choice for China.”