China’s military has splashed the cash in recent years even as the U.S. reined in defense spending, but are Chinese soldiers kitted for war as well as their American counterparts?
Apparently not, a Chinese newspaper says, after adding up the average costs of equipping Chinese and U.S. infantrymen.
From rifle to raincoat, helmet to haversack, the Chinese soldier’s kit list costs just under 9,400 Chinese yuan ($1,523), or roughly the value of two entry-level iPhone 6s in China, according to Southern Weekly, a Guangzhou-based newspaper.
Nearly half of the equipment value comes from the soldier’s most-important tool: The standard-issue Type 95 automatic rifle, a Chinese-made weapon valued at 4,300 yuan. Helmets come a distant second, at 1,580 yuan each, the newspaper said.
In contrast, the average U.S. soldier’s combat gear costs the equivalent of nearly 20 high-end iPhone 6s, the newspaper estimated, without stating its sources. According to an Associated Press report in 2007, which cited Pentagon officials, the average U.S. soldier costs about $17,500 to equip.
“Since 2008, some Western think tanks claim that China’s military spending has risen to the second-highest globally, but the title of ‘second in the world’ hasn’t given Chinese soldiers any greater sense of security,” said the Southern Weekly report, which was republished in English by Chinamil.com.cn, the Chinese military’s official web portal.
Beijing has overseen an almost unbroken string of large defense-spending increases for two decades. In March, China’s Finance Ministry said military spending is budgeted at 808.23 billion yuan ($131 billion) this year, a 12.2% rise from 2013 and the largest annual increase since 2011.