Thursday, September 06, 2007

The UN and China's Military Budget

By Stanford Matthews
Blog @

These days it is naive to use phrases like ' since the Cold War ended.' So the Soviet Union had a name change and Chairman Mao is not the leader of 'Red China'. Beyond that, other details may have changed but the situation is hardly much different than it was since the end of WWII and the late eighties.

The US and Russia competed for allies during the Cold War to maintain a balance of power throughout the world. The fortunes of Third World countries since then has in some cases improved dramatically. One obvious change since the seventies, even before the assumed end to the Cold War, is the relationship between Iran and the US. And the former Soviet Bloc and relationships with Russia have also been altered. But what about larger countries like China? How have things changed for them?

In terms of military matters and international games countries play, China's actions mirror those of Cold War history. Over the last couple of weeks reports indicate other members of the United Nations have encouraged China to be more forthcoming about military expenditures. The reports state China has not presented such information in a decade. Being cynical, how much value can such information have? Both sides of the discussion characterize past data as being basic. And it is also noted by groups who monitor such things that some countries provide detailed data while others,including China, only present a minimum of detail.

What is known, as in other similar news reports, suggests China has developed strong ties with countries like Sudan and Iran. Most of their arms exports go to these and other countries. Just like the Cold War that is supposed to be over, the current actions of countries throughout the world have much in common with those previous practices. The recent agreements over nuclear technology between the US and India raised questions of concern. Similarly, China's exports raise the same questions.

While there are rules at the UN for reporting on conventional weapons, the concern that China's testing program may be an attempt to weaponize space would not likely include conventional arms. Besides, how realistic is the expectation of full disclosure among nations regarding arms? Just another example of the pointless nature of the United Nations. Weapons disclosure among nations based on the honor system is a silly notion.
China to report military spending to UN
Sun Sep 2, 6:45 PM ET
China said Sunday it will provide the United Nations with information on its military spending and arms deals for the first time in more than a decade, taking a step to address international concerns about the secrecy surrounding its defense spending and operations.

China promises more military transparency

Sun Sep 2, 7:37 AM ET
China said Sunday it will begin reporting its armed forces budget to the United Nations and rejoin a global register of conventional arms amid foreign pressure for greater military transparency.

China said the moves were meant to show the world its commitment to military transparency, at a time when its massive armed forces expansion is causing alarm bells to ring in Asia and further afield.


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10:55 AM  

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