Chinese defense spending in 2022 was equivalent to that of the United States, according to an American think tank.

Like every year, the publication of the SIPRI report on defense spending by world powers gives rise to numerous interpretations through press articles, and numerous more or less informed comments.

As we mentioned recently, if the publication of these budgets, as presented by SIPRI, has a synthetic interest, its trivial use, to deduce a supposed relationship of military forces, is highly questionable, so as not to say misleading. It is hardly surprising, in this regard, that these figures are primarily used by Russia and China, to support their own narrative, rather than by all of the world's military powers.

It is in this context that the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, or AEI, a non-partisan (non-politically affiliated) American think tank, recently published a methodology intended to transform this facial budget into a more likely compensated budget. to be indicative of the evolution of the balance of power.

Its conclusions are, as such, if not surprising, in any case, perfectly clear. Indeed, according to its researchers, Chinese defense spending, for the reference year 2022 used here, would be more than three times higher than the nominal budget indicated by Beijing and taken up by SIPRI. Above all, they would be almost perfectly aligned with the American defense budget that same year.

The misleading comparison of defense spending between world military powers

As mentioned in the article “ Comparing countries' defense budgets is a serious mistake! That's why… » of April 23, the comparison induced by the annual publication by SIPRI of the budget of the world armies, is often ineffective, sometimes less, completely misleading.

HQ-18B hypersonic missile North Korea
Despite a defense budget of only $0,96 billion, North Korea has very significant military power, including in the ballistic field, and has around fifty nuclear warheads.

Indeed, to give a homogeneous form to the summary document, SIPRI passes it through several filters, including the harmonization of these budgets in American dollars, which does not take into account numerous economic, sociological and political factors surrounding the use of these budgets.

The convincing example taken in this article is that of North Korea. Indeed, its annual defense budget of $0,96 billion is not at all representative of the country's military power, which has an army of 1,3 million men, 5000 tanks and 2500 artillery systems, as well as only around fifty nuclear warheads.

Even compensated for the purchasing power parity applied to North Korean GDP, it reached just $3 billion, once again, out of proportion to the reality of the country's military power. Remember that South Korea spends 14 times this budget compensated by Purchasing Power Parity, and must still rely on the 28 American soldiers, and Washington's nuclear umbrella, to protect itself.

We understand, in these conditions, to what extent the simple comparison of defense spending between countries based on very different economic, technological and industrial realities makes no sense, in order to deduce any relevant conclusion concerning the evolution of the military balance of power.

The compensated calculation model of the Chinese defense budget from the think tank AEI

It is in this context that the American think tank American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, or AEI, undertook to lay certain foundations concerning a compensated calculation model making it possible, indeed, to give these budgetary data a more realistic interpretation potential.

Chinese Armed Forces
China's armed forces are 2 million strong, a third of them conscripts.

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