Super Cities №83 — In Asia, One Graph and Two Realities

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

China’s spending big on its defense (its neighbor is not)

“In a speech from the deck of the destroyer Changsha, Mr Xi outlined China’s goal to develop the world’s leading naval force, saying the need has “never been more pressing than today”.”


To understand defense spending, one must look into a crystal ball — depending on bias and ideology, everyone sees something different.

For advocates, spending big on defense sends a clear, muscular message to potential adversaries.

For fiscal hawks, defense spending must be handled skeptically because it almost always goes up. In a crazy world, there are always new conflicts, new threats, new technologies, and new weapon systems.

For others, defense spending is a simple function of legitimacy. Realpolitik tells us that established and emerging powers must have robust defenses.

Add in a controversial history, and you quickly see how two nations, separated by the Taiwan Strait, have made security calculations since 1989.

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