BEIJING — Big annual increases in China’s defense budget have been fueling a top-to-bottom modernization drive that has brought in new equipment and vast improvements in living conditions for the People’s Liberation Army’s 2.3 million members. Even with the budget growing by a relatively modest 7-8 percent this year, the PLA can still be expected to continue adding the latest generation fighter jets, bombers, frigates, submarines and missiles.
While the land forces still account for about 73 percent of total troop strength, China is shifting resources to the navy and air force. Those services will be responsible for dealing with the main perceived threats to China’s interests — a conflict over control of the South China Sea and a move by ...
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