China’s spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND), Senior Colonel Wu Qian, urged Japan to ‘wake up from the old dream of militarism at an early date’ according to a release from the MND on 25 April 2024. 

The release took issue with Japan’s characterisation of China in the 2024 Diplomatic Bluebook, one that identifies China as an unprecedented, and the greatest, strategic challenge to Japan. 

“Japanese remarks are purely false narratives, and we are firmly opposed to that,” remarked Wu.

Japan’s 2024 Diplomatic Bluebook, published by the Foreign Ministry on 16 April, says China’s military build up is “unprecedented and represents the greatest strategic challenge to ensuring the peace and security”, but also speaks of a desire to build a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests” with China. 

China and Japan have both made significant investments in their military capabilities in recent years. 

For its part, Japan has doubled its commitment for defence spending, raising a long standing cap of no more than 1% of GDP for its military, so that it will spend 2% on its forces. Under the new spending commitments, Japan will have the third largest military in the world within four years.

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In 2024 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated that China’s 2023 military spending was $296bn (2.1trn yuan). The budget that has risen for the 29th consecutive year, rising 6% over 2022, although this represents a change in the size of GDP, as the share of spending as a percentage of GDP has remained 1.7% for each year. 

China’s MND took issue with recent reports of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida criticising the an accelerated Chinese nuclear arsenal development, in remarks that identified China’s expansion of this capability as a concern to global and regional stability. 

The MND spokesperson noted that China’s national defence policy is defensive in nature, and that its nuclear defence strategy is one of defence, rooted in a policy of no first use for nuclear weapons, at any time, under any circumstance.

The statements from Wu come on the same day of the announcement of a joint military exercise between China and Bangladesh, and follow on a range of comments from the MND critical of the AUKUS partnership’s role in the Indo-Pacific, and of a US-Japan-Philippines joint statement that cited China’s “dangerous and aggressive” behaviour in the seas around China.

The joint training between China and Bangladesh, named ‘Golden Friendship’ will be the first raining between the two militaries.

Bangladesh and the US completed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) on 22 April 2024, the 30th year of the annual exercise.