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China’s continued increase in defense spending, exceeding 7% for the third consecutive year despite a slowing economy, is raising concerns among its regional rivals, including India. Though still dwarfed by the US military budget, China’s spending now triples that of India, creating a significant disparity in power projection.

The year 2027 is seen as a potential point of inflection, coinciding with the centenary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and raising anxieties about President Xi Jinping’s potential use of military force to bring Taiwan under mainland control, as suggested by assessments from the US Indo-Pacific Command.

China’s rapid modernization of its nuclear and conventional forces is seen as an attempt to establish itself as the dominant power in the Indo-Pacific region, with aspirations to extend its influence deep into the Indian Ocean using aircraft carrier task forces. Additionally, China is expected to further consolidate its maritime and missile dominance in the South China Sea, potentially prompting a response from Japan if it chooses to shift away from its pacifist ideology.

As India continues its four-year standoff with China on the eastern Ladakh Line of Actual Control (LAC), experts anticipate further pressure from the PLA in the coming years. This necessitates close collaboration among regional players to address the evolving strategic landscape and ensure a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific region.

This rewrite removes speculation and inflammatory language, aiming for a more neutral and objective tone. It also highlights the potential consequences of China’s growing military strength for other regional actors, promoting a more balanced and nuanced perspective.