Since the 1990s, modern fighter aircraft from i.e. The Russian Federation was procured or licensed, as well as Western defense equipment from e.g. USA and France. The most recent nuclear weapons tests took place in 1996. In 2003, China’s defense focused on being able to act more mobile even outside China’s borders. The volume would be reduced by another 20% down to 1.8 million people. Instead, in 2006, the focus was on prioritizing strategic intercontinental defense capabilities. In 2008, China had about 800 nuclear weapons carriers. As far as military operations are concerned, naval and air combat forces are given priority today. The amphibious capacity further out from the coast as well as the air transport capacity on a larger scale has clearly improved.
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In 2007, China’s defense consisted of 2.2 million men. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that CHN stands for China. The conscription period is two years. The defense is organized in a strategic force of 100,000 men with about 800 launchers, of which 46 are intercontinental. The army of about 800,000 men, 1.6 million men fully staffed, and 7,500 tanks etc. is organized into 18 armies of twelve brigades and three airborne divisions. The reserves amount to 30 divisions. The Navy comprises 255,000 men (40,000 conscripts) with 58 submarines (one of which is an intercontinental nuclear carrier), 76 fighters/frigates, about 240 patrol boats, about 70 amphibious vessels, a naval aircraft with about 790 fighter aircraft and 60 armed helicopters, and two Navy infantry brigades, including two the air defense, includes 400,000 men with about 2,600 fighter aircraft, about 300 transport aircraft and a number of armed helicopters. Semi-military security forces amount to 1.5 million people, of which 800,000 are for internal security. The equipment is increasingly modern and mainly of its own or Russian origin.
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Defense costs decreased in 1985-2005 from 7.9% to officially 1.3% of GDP. A more internationally accurate figure may be around 2.3% of GDP. China participates in UN peacekeeping operations with a company in each of Congo/ Kinshasa (MONUC) and Lebanon (UNIFIL), a battalion in Liberia (UNMIL) and one in Sudan (UNMIS), and with observers in Ivory Coast, East Timor, Ethiopia/Eritrea and the Middle East.
China’s foreign policy
After the communist revolution in 1949, China has sought a leadership position in the Third World, which the country has considered itself to belong to. Under Mao Zedong, Beijing provided extensive support for Maoist parties and guerrilla movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America, but from around 1980 China has supported Third World governments regardless of political color. At the same time, Beijing took on a kind of middle position vis-à-vis the superpowers, with criticism both by the United States and the Soviet Union for striving for world domination.
National prestige and dignity has been a guide in China’s foreign policy after Mao. The management protects the country’s independence and sovereignty to an extremely high degree. The national is expressed, among other things, in the strong emphasis on Chinese achievements during the Olympics and other sporting events. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, China, with its 32 gold medals, was close to peaking the medal statistics. When Beijing was awarded the Summer Olympics in 2008, this was greeted with cheers both by the rulers and the broad team of the people. The 2010 Shanghai World Exhibition was another prestigious event.
In addition, China’s official foreign policy has been emphasized in statements by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which briefly states that China is not seeking any role as a superpower. The country also has no interest in meddling in other countries’ internal affairs, and encourages all countries to seek to resolve international conflicts through the UN.
However, under Xi Jinping’s administration, China’s foreign policy appears to be more assertive and nationalistic with a pronounced confidence in its own political system and what the administration considers Chinese values.
In September 2016 recognized China along with the United States Paris agreement when China hosted the G 20 -Meet in Hangzhou. This is considered a milestone in climate work as these two countries are responsible for a total of 38 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases.
Soviet Union and Russia
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s “hegemony” and the pursuit of world domination were considered the most serious threat by Beijing’s rulers. Relations with the USSR were severely worsened when Hanoi allied with Moscow after the Vietnam War, and in 1978 invaded Cambodia to expel China’s ally Red Khmer. The relationship improved towards the end of the 1980s; Trade was on the rise. During President Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Beijing in 1989, full normalization was agreed.
Jiang Zemin visited Moscow in 1991, as the first party leader in 30 years. In 2001, China and Russia signed a 20-year friendship agreement, the first of its kind in over 50 years. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, China has purchased advanced weapon technology from Russia, including in the form of license production of fighter aircraft and naval weapons systems. According to Beijing, this will offset Taiwan’s purchase of advanced Western weapons systems. In August 2005, for the first time since the 1950s, Chinese and Russian troops conducted a joint military exercise in Shandong Province.
Relations with Russia have improved since the turn of the millennium. This has been developed through the “Shanghai Group”, and China and Russia had the first joint military exercise ever in 2005 and another in 2007. Officially, the purpose of the exercises was anti-terrorism, but many observers believe the scope and type of weapons used has been a demonstration against US military hegemony. In general, Chinese foreign policy appears to be gearing itself toward Russia and Europe to balance the US position as a superpower.
Xi Jinping has also worked for better cooperation with Russia and Vladimir Putin, including the signing of a gas agreement and a stated political will for closer cooperation. China has also become Russia’s largest trading partner. However, it is uncertain how close the cooperation can be, as China and Russia have overlapping spheres of interest, including in Central Asia.
Other neighboring countries
Following Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978, directed at the Red Khmer, large Chinese forces moved into Vietnam on a so-called “punitive expedition” in February 1979. After three to four weeks, the Chinese retreated after fierce fighting with heavy losses on both sides. In the 1980s, there was still a state of war with frequent hits, often including artillery duels, along the Sino-Vietnamese border. After Vietnam’s retreat from Cambodia in 1989, the relationship improved and was officially normalized in 1991. The Beijing-Hanoi rail link was restored in 1996.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, China has resolved a number of ancient border conflicts with Russia and former Soviet republics such as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Issues of common interest are often addressed in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a cooperative organization fighting terrorism and Islamic extremism that declared goals.
China has also improved relations with India, which has been strained since the Indians lost a border war in 1962. China still has some unresolved border conflicts with India. This is true, for example, in the border areas against India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir with the areas Demchok and Shaksgam Valley. The largest area that China and India contend with is Aksai Chin, which Pakistan renounced to India in 1964. India has never acknowledged this renunciation and China’s dominion over the area. Cooperation in several areas, especially trade, has increased despite border disputes still in existence, and India’s protests against China’s military aid to Pakistan and Bangladesh.
China is also negotiating with Bhutan to determine the border between the two countries. This applies to mountain areas in the west and northwest where there are major discrepancies between cartographic measurements for the two countries.
China established normal diplomatic relations with the United States on January 1, 1979. After a positive decade, China’s relations with the United States and the West abruptly bottomed after China quelled the student revolt in the Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989. up to 13 years in prison and death sentence for armed resistance. The West reacted with partial isolation of China. Relations were normalized in the early 1990s, but alleged human rights violations were a recurring theme in the 1990s. In 1997, China released democracy activist Wei Jingsheng after 16 years in prison.
In April 1998, two months before President Bill Clinton’s visit, Wang Dan, one of the top student rebellion leaders, was also released. A backlash came in 1999 with powerful US-hostile demonstrations after NATO aircraft bombed China’s embassy in Belgrade during the war in Yugoslavia.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, China has seen as its foremost foreign policy challenge that the United States is allegedly trying to limit China’s growth and prestige. On the strategic level, the US and China have mutually challenged each other with more sophisticated weapons systems and greater military impact. China, in the 1980s, departed from Mao’s thesis on the “war of the people” and focused on military modernization with advanced weapons systems. Standing army forces were cut from about five million men to less than half.
Greater emphasis was placed on long-range missiles, the Air Force and, not least, the Navy. From being a coastal navy, by the turn of the millennium, it had been developed to operate even in distant waters (see China’s defense). In July 1996, China conducted its last nuclear test (number 44 in the series since 1964), and then joined the extended probation agreement. In 2005, the United States officially objected to what was claimed to be a disproportionately strong build-up of China’s military force.
Trade policy sparks characterized the turn of the millennium, partly as a result of a growing Chinese export surplus that reached more than $ 100 billion in 2003. A controversial theme in the period 1994-2005 was China’s fixed exchange rate system of 8.28 for the yuan currency against the US dollar. The bond to the dollar was lifted in 2005, which led to a certain strengthening of the yuan. It is not to be linked to the dollar, but is set in relation to a larger basket of different currencies.
The Taiwan issue has been central to Chinese politics. Taiwan (Republic of China) was created on the Chinese island of Formosa in 1949 after the communist victory in the mainland civil war. Taiwan has also been a recurring topic of battle in relation to Washington. The United States broke the formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, but has maintained its role as a protective force. US weapons deliveries have put Beijing in harness. The People’s Republic of China sees Taiwan as a rebel province that is still an “inseparable part of China” and condemns all steps towards a more independent status.
Since 1949, the Taiwan government has also adhered to the “One China” principle that Taiwan is part of China and that reunification of the island and the mainland is the long-term goal. But an increasingly strong opinion also calls for Taiwan to go its own way as an independent nation, detached from China.
All indications in that direction have been fiercely condemned by Beijing, which repeatedly threatened to attack militarily if Taiwan formally declares independence. In 1996, the world was shaken by massive Chinese military exercises in the Taiwan Strait – the US sent two aircraft carriers to the area to stop what many feared might be a Chinese invasion. Extremely sharp was the tone when Chen Shui-bian was elected Taiwan’s president in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. In 2005, a new law clause was issued for the use of military force if Taiwan formally declares its independence.
Despite the bitter political controversy, there has nevertheless been a practical approach. In the early 1990s, mass tourism was opened from Taiwan to the mainland. Stronger and more formalized economic relations, through China and Taiwan’s membership of the WTO, seem to be moving in a positive direction. A positive move came when Taiwan in 1999 lifted a formal ban on mainland investment. Both Taiwanese capitalists have, before and since, embarked on massive investments, which have made significant contributions to China’s export success. In 2005, for the first time, there were direct charter flights between the island and the mainland.
In December 2016, a minor diplomatic crisis arose between the US and China when the incoming President, Donald Trump, received congratulations from Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, through a telephone conversation. Beijing authorities saw this as a recognition by Trump’s side of Taiwan’s president as a head of state in line with China’s president. This was considered a breach of the “One-China Policy” which recognizes only one leadership in the whole of China, constituting China and Taiwan (as well as Hong Kong and Macao). This means that a country that wants diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China must provide similar relations with Taiwan, the Republic of China. The rhetoric between Trump and the Beijing authorities was further heightened when Trump, in an interview on TV, threatened to end US support for “One China policy”.
China has played an increasingly important role in the international political scene in the years following the turn of the millennium. Chinese politicians have been active overseas to a much greater extent than before in the history of the People’s Republic. China has also tried to take a more active role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and other international organizations. Compared to Japan, old scars from the wars of the 1930s and 1940s proved difficult to cure. While Japan has reacted strongly to China’s nuclear weapons, the Chinese believe Japan has not done enough to remedy Japanese assaults during the wars of the 1930s and 1940s.
Compared to its neighboring countries in general, China has sought to promote stability and cooperation. Relations with countries like South Korea and Vietnam have improved, but there are still unresolved conflicts with neighboring East Asian countries. This applies primarily to relations with Japan that have been put to the test after the controversy over the sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands flared up from 2008 and tapered off in 2012–2013 when China sent military vessels and Japan sent its coastguard. There was no encounter with the islands, but it led to large anti-Japanese demonstrations in Chinese cities where the Japanese embassy and Japanese factories and stores were attacked by the protesters. Taiwan also claims these islands.
China is also in conflict with Japan over the Okinotori Islands in the Pacific. China accepts that the area belongs to Japan, but Japan wants this atoll to be recognized as islands and with this they will also claim an economic zone around the islands which could possibly provide opportunities for oil recovery. If the area is not recognized as islands, it will be within Chinese territorial waters.
The Spratly Islands/Nansha Islands, which China claims, for example, are also a source of conflicts with neighboring countries in the South China Sea. In 2011, Chinese military patrol boats opened fire on Vietnamese fishing boats, leading to anti-Chinese demonstrations in Vietnam. The Philippines has also warned against further Chinese military escalation in the area.
China claims the entire ocean area within what they refer to as the “nine-point line”, a demarcation of Chinese territory or which dates back to 1947. In 2014, on the small islands and coral reefs within that area, China has been constructing land and permanent structures, including runways and deep sea ports. Many have therefore seen this as clear evidence of military escalation in China’s area.
The conflict has continued in the years to come with several discrepancies especially with the Philippines and Vietnam, although China also has major or minor disputes with Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the area. In addition, there are also US patrol vessels in the ocean that China does not recognize the rights to be there. These disputes have led to the case being taken up by some of the parties involved in the Arbitration Court in The Hague. In July 2016, the verdict fell in China’s disapproval, rejecting China’s “nine-point line” and stating that China had violated the Philippines’ territorial rights. China rejected both the verdict and the court’s legitimacy. In December 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Defense confirmed that they have actually built installations designed for self-defense on the islands.
China and Africa
In Africa, China has experienced the greatest development of international relations with large investments by Chinese companies and with a strong increase in trade. About a third of Chinese oil consumption is imported from Africa, mainly Angola. Metals, minerals, fish and agricultural products also constitute a large part of imports. Africa, among others, imports electronics, cars, clothing, household goods and other goods that can be bought far cheaper from China than from its competitors in the West.
China, due to its large investments in cheap labor in Africa, has been accused of neo-colonialism. This is refuted by Chinese authorities, which indicate that they have begun to impose demands on Chinese companies operating in Africa.