Chapter 10 Review of China’s New Carrier Rockets and Solar Orbiters
The Chinese official data indicates that the 2021 national defense budget was approximately RMB 1.35 trillion,1 up by 6.8% from 2020 and primarily for four prioritized areas: 1. assurance of initiation and implementation of major military engineering projects as scheduled in the 14th Five-Year Plan; 2. upgrade and replacement to enhance modernization of military weapons and equipment; 3. improvement of training conditions and construction of a talent development system for nurturing military professionals; 4. alignment of the military personnel’s benefits and living standards with the country’s economic and social conditions.
The military force modernization is mainly based on the two-pronged strategy of the Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) and Science and Technology (S&T) industrial innovations. First, the boundary between the military force and the livelihood economy is blurred so that economic and social development may be integrated into military development and national security requirements. The implementation measures include the fusion of military and private-sector industrial sites, the integration of military and civil technology and innovation, nurturing versatile talents for military and civil purposes, and mutual conversion of military and civil construction and development. The goal is to include all aspects of the society and the economy into the military system and build a holistic system and capabilities for national military strategy. Second, it is necessary to hunt for potential and critical technologies as the cornerstone of military modernization. Hence, China invests considerable resources in companies and research projects for technologies with strategic potential and proactively promotes the industry-government- academia cooperation in the development of new technologies, such as AI and advanced robotics, semiconductor and advanced computing, quantum technology, biotechnology, hypersonic and directed energy weapons (DEW), advanced materials, and alternative energies.
Based on the aforesaid military development strategy, China has made good progress in modernizing military equipment and important vehicles over the recent years. In its publication, “Military and Security Developments. Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020”, the U.S. Department of Defense openly says that China has reached the same level as the U.S. or even surpassed the U.S. in certain military areas (e.g., space vehicles). Below is a summary of the space developments internationally considered strategically critical.