China's Defense Ministry confirmed on Sunday that China had successfully conducted a second land-based mid-course missile interception test. At a time when East Asia is seeing intensifying disputes, the success of China's anti-missile test, together with the flight of its first heavy transport aircraft Y-20 a day earlier, inevitably led to speculation.
An anti-missile system is seen as a country's shield. China's anti-missile development started about 30 years later than the US, but it has a better technological base now compared with 30 years ago, which means China has the chance to narrow the gap.
China adheres to a defensive military policy. The scope of defense covers land, sea, and space.
China's current military strength is inadequate in terms of reaching its defense goals. Its defensive power is growing, as are demands to increase military strength. It's hard to say which is growing faster.
Who are China's rivals? What attitude should China take in dealing with its challenges? And what pace should China go at to build its effective defense range and retaliatory capability? We should have a clear mind on those questions. A power with weak defenses will suffer losses, but having a strong defensive power could draw antagonism and even containment. A strong defense doesn't necessarily bring security.
The outside world will respond to whatever choice China takes on those questions. Different people hold different views on China's defense situation. Those who hold that aircraft carriers and anti-missile technology are unnecessary and those who advocate that they are urgently needed for China to prepare itself for war both have good arguments.
Today, China does not possess independent military technology that can worry the US. The primary task of China's defense was to deal with the Taiwan Strait crisis 10 years ago. The situation there has been alleviated now, but given the escalation in territorial disputes, the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific region and the complicated Korea Peninsula situation, it's hard to say whether China is safer or not.
China's annual expenditure on defense has surpassed $100 billion, ranking second in the world. The figure could also be seen as "small." This is because we cannot predict the strategic environment we will face as China's economic strength gradually approaches that of the US.
China's rise challenges the current international order and affects the development of certain global powers. We have to endure the pressure brought by China's development. Defense is the backbone that will support us.
Some believe China's current military power is sufficient for self-defense purposes. Such arguments are based on low standards. A major power should have the vision to make early preparations for more difficult defense tasks.