Chinese Submarine, Yangtze Delta, February 2011In January 2011, the government of Taiwan arrested one of its generals on accusations of spying for China. Major General Lo Hsieh-che was recruited sometime during a posting overseas between 2003 and 2005, declared the Ministry of National Defense. It was another small signal sent to the world that the Chinese Military Tiger is out for some game. Step by step, the Chinese army is building its power, in tandem with its new international ambitions as the world’s no. 2 economy. True, the budget of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is still miles away from that of the U.S. superpower. In 2011, China’s military spending officially amounts to 601.1 billion Yuan (91.4 billion dollars), far behind the 548 billion allotted to U.S. forces this year. But it is the rapid rate of this growth –an increase of 12.7% in one year, according to Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the National People’s Congress, in early March 2011– and its lack of transparency that worry foreign observers. Our reporter Harold Thibault takes a very close look at this high-speed phenomenon.

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