Taking into account all of the
high tech weapons China is developing, or producing, you can make a case that
their actual defense budget is about $100 billion a year. It's long been common
practice in communist countries to hide defense spending in other areas of
government activity. China has a very active space program, and part of it is
obviously dedicated to military purposes (as in anti-satellite systems). China
has several ICBM development projects underway, in addition to several shorter
range ballistic missiles in development, or production. The Chinese navy and
air force are also building lots of new ships and aircraft. It all adds up, to
a much larger number that the current assumptions of about $45 billion a year.
American web information providers have been told
that, if they wish to continue operating in China, they have to abide by
Chinese web monitoring and censorship laws. Unwilling to cede the Chinese
market to Chinese firms, the American companies (like Google, Microsoft and
Yahoo) are going along with the Chinese demands. This includes installing
software to monitor and censor blogs.
Another new Internet police tactic is to have a warning (featuring two
cuddly cartoon Internet cops) pop up every half hour, for users who are online,
to warn against trying to reach forbidden websites. China's Internet police are
noting increasing use of forbidden
software, that enables Chinese web surfers to go where the government does not
want them to be.
Unemployment, pollution and corruption continue to
threaten government control. Unemployment is addressed, as it has been for
three decades, by encouraging entrepreneurs to form new businesses. But that is
done without much regulation, leading to so much pollution, that a sizable
chunk of the population (over a third at the moment) is up in arms over. But
the corruption is getting the most attention from the government, because this
plague is very prevalent in the police and military, and the government needs
these two institutions to remain in power.
The anti-corruption campaign remains on track, with the finance minister
resigning this week, along with several other lesser ministers. These actions
are believed related to corruption charges.
While trying to deal with the dirty cops, billions
of dollars is being invested in new tools to make police work easier. Hundreds
of thousands of video cameras have been installed in urban areas, and millions
of these inexpensive vidcams are planned. In addition, a new generation of ID
cards are coming, with remotely readable electronic beacons (RFID) built in.
Thus people can be tracked 24/7, if they live in one of the wired zones (that
is, where the vidcams are.)
Taiwan and Japan are annoyed at continued
intrusions by Chinese warships into their territorial waters. This has happened
twice so far this year, and China ignores complaints about it.