China: A Place in the Sun

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October 3, 2005: China's military spending has gone up at least fifteen percent a year for the past six years. But it's uncertain just how high that spending really is. Like most Communist countries, the exact defense budget is considered top secret, and much false information is released to keep it that way. From visible activities, it appears that Chinese defense spending is at least the widely accepted $30 billion a year. But it may be closer to $100 billion, if you include a lot of military research, space activities (military communications and spy satellites) and investments in infrastructure (bases)are included. There is definitely a growth in military spending, and apparently no enthusiasm for reversing this trend.

The government has also been running a propaganda campaign, for over a decade, to make people aware of the importance of China getting some international respect, after a century of defeats and other humiliations. This resonates with many Chinese, and the government is exploiting this to build support for a larger military and more aggressive diplomacy. This is how wars get started. A century ago, Germany was building up its armed forces and looking for "a place in the sun." This led to two world wars and over 100 million dead. Deja vu, anyone?

September 30, 2005: China now has 368 million mobile phone users, versus 342 million with land line phones. This spread of telephone use is of much concern to the government, because it enables information to spread rapidly and without government controls.

September 29, 2005: China reported that, in the first six months of 2005, 23 police officers were killed and 1,803 wounded in the line of duty. This was a continuation of the trend of police casualties to increase every year. Incidents of public disorder have been increasing as well. China says the increase in police injuries is partly the result of a new policy that requires the police to not use force until things get really ugly. In the past, the police would start swinging, or open fire, at the least provocation. But the police commanders noted that this often just led to more violence, and police restraint tended to calm things down.

 

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