Romney, Manchin, Sullivan, King Introduce Legislation to Expose China’s Defense Spending

Legislation requires public accounting of defense spending of People’s Republic of China

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, joined by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Angus King (I-ME),today introduced the China Defense Spending Transparency Act, bipartisan legislation requiring the Defense Intelligence Agency to publish a comprehensive report exposing the true extent of China’s defense-industrial build up.

The report must take into account the military-civil fusion present in the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) and will provide policymakers and the American public a clearer understanding of the real value of Chinese military expenditures. Official reports and statistics coming out of China about their own defense spending cannot be taken at face value, and the lack of an accurate accounting leads to these misleading figures being cited and reported—ultimately distorting the public debate about our own defense spending.

“The Chinese Communist Party is undertaking a rapid and strategic military buildup in its quest to become the world’s superpower,”said Senator Romney. “We cannot for one second trust CCP pronouncements regarding its defense spending—or allow this misleading information to influence U.S. policymaking. It’s critical for our national security that we accurately understand the PRC’s military investments as we make decisions regarding investments in support of our own defense capabilities.”

“For America to win against the People’s Republic of China and their growing military threats, we must publicly refute their dishonest defense budget and demonstrate how much they are actually spending in comparison to the United States,” said Senator Manchin. “I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that will create an accurate and transparent report of the PRC’s defense budget so we can make better decisions about how to invest in our defense capabilities. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense proposal to strengthen our response to the PRC and protect American interests.”

“Given the CCP’s repeated history of deception on almost everything, it should come as no surprise that they are distorting the numbers regarding their own defense spending,” said Senator Sullivan. “Our Defense Department needs to report to the American people the true scope of China’s massive military build-up, which is clearly aimed at threatening America’s interests far beyond China’s own shores and borders. We need to ensure the United States military is maintaining its ability to respond to and deter any threats to American national security, particularly from this aggressive despotic regime.”

“The Chinese Communist Party has consistently demonstrated its desire to challenge the balance of global policymaking and undermine a rules-based international order,” Senator King said. “The first step in addressing any potential threat—this one included—is to get a clear understanding of the facts. This report will help Congress and defense officials better quantify and understand the true expanse of China’s military—using our own intelligence and information gathering to guide America’s critical national security decisions rather than take China’s word for their intent. The China Defense Spending Transparency Act is bipartisan, commonsense legislation to ensure that the United States can have clear eyes in deterring and preparing for any potential conflicts. I thank Senators Romney, Manchin and Sullivan for their leadership on this issue and urge our Senate colleagues to pass this bill swiftly.”

Full text of the legislation can be found here.


General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee asserted: “At an unclassified level I would tell you that, combined, the Russian and Chinese budgets exceed our budgets, if all the cards are put on the table. Both governments do not put all their cards on the table when it comes to their budget. It is a very difficult thing to discern, that which is being spent on their defense versus other priorities. With respect to China, they have put significant levels of effort…significant levels of resources into building the Chinese military. And the Chinese military, as we have noted many times before, is on a significant increasing rise in capability over the last 20 or 30 years, and they continue to invest heavily in that.”