On Friday, General Xu Qiliang, one of the highest-ranked members of the Chinese military, warned members of the National People’s Congress of China that the country would have to increase the amount of financial support it distributes to the military.
According to Xu, the expenditure is warranted given the rise of the Chinese military power, expected to approach the U.S. as a superior power.
The official spoke about the urgency of preparing for the so-called ‘Thucydides trap’.
The concept, developed by Harvard political scientist Graham Allison, refers to the situation in which a conflict is necessary once the lower power reaches a higher one.
Xu, who is also a Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo member, explained that Chinese GDP is expected to be a crucial factor in the increase of the country’s military power.
He emphasized that China’s economy already comprises 70 percent more than the U.S. GDP.
High tensions to come
Some analysts describe recent Xu’s comments as part of the bigger context of Chinese disillusionment with the newly elected U.S. administration headed by Joe Biden.
In this light, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that, even though he believes the U.S. and China should cooperate on global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, the U.S. should not breach the ‘red lines’ of Chines policy, most particularly those related to Taiwan.
Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe characterized the relationship with the U.S. as approaching a deadlock, warning that China entered a phase in which its ‘strong enemies’ pose a high risk to its security.
Soon after, Wei’s ministry spokesman Wu Qian announced that parts of China’s military budget increase would be spent on projects that would help the country reach the U.S. military power.
Ni Lexiong, a naval expert from Shanghai, pointed out that Chinese officials are carving out a five-year military plan in which they plan to mobilize various national resources to compete with the U.S.
These statements strongly resemble the ones made by some U.S. officials.
Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin described China as one of the biggest challenges to NATO.
William Burns, Biden’s candidate for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), told Senators that competition with China should be viewed as the crucial aspect of national security.
Both these and statements from China suggest there is an understanding of the approaching situation on both sides.