As Americans ponder ways to cut defense spending, the Chinese government is ramping up it military budget dramatically. Spending on China's armed forces is being increased by 11 percent this year, on track to pass the $100 billion level for the first time in history.
While that remains far below U.S. spending levels - President Barack Obama proposes a $524 billion Pentagon budget for the coming year - it still represents a change certain to worry policymakers in Washington.
What is of particular concern is China's strategy of building up its force projection capability. For decades, Chinese strategy was to maintain a massive homeland defense force, coupled with a relatively modest arsenal of strategic nuclear weaponry.
Now, leaders in Beijing want the force projection ability to use conventional forces regionally and, perhaps, throughout the globe. China's first aircraft carrier has been built. Smaller, long-range troop carriers are planned. Clearly, the regime's goal is to be able to send Chinese troops to regions where their use is desired, and to support them with air power.
That presents a potential challenge to U.S. interests throughout Asia, and perhaps on a wider stage.
Yes, U.S. military spending needs to be more efficient. But given the new strategy adopted by Beijing, it also needs to craft responses to a new catalogue of threats, and that could be more difficult to do if reductions go too far. Lawmakers should keep that in mind when discussing potential budget cuts.