Lack of funding, ideas and industrial might seen as problems Underfunding is hammering the modernisation of the mainland's military, a Communist Party newspaper said yesterday. The Study Times identified eight stumbling blocks and said that, as well as inadequate funding, segregation of the civilian and military industrial sectors was holding back defence modernisation. It lamented that the mainland's military spending greatly lagged that of other countries - especially the United States. It also noted the information revolution that has transformed modern warfare in recent years. 'The strengthening of national defence and information systems requires huge investment ... And in recent years, many countries have pumped in huge sums of money to realise revolutionary changes by improving their mastery of military information,' the article said. 'From 1996 to 2003, the US spent almost US$2.5 trillion, of which 40 per cent - about US$1 trillion - was spent on these revolutionary changes for the military,' it said. 'We [China] also paid great attention to military spending ... but [we] are still far from achieving our goals of building an information-oriented army and army which can win a war that emphasises the mastery of information.' The article said that last year the military budget - measured on a per soldier basis - was only US$13,000, far behind the US$350,000 per soldier spent by the US. The article comes as the Chinese leadership is busy preparing next year's budget and appears to represent lobbying by People's Liberation Army hawks for a bigger military budget. Andrei Chang, a military weapons specialist who writes under the name Pinkov, said: 'It seems like the PLA has started to learn from other countries like the US that it also needs to lobby for more funding,' he said. 'As the National People's Congress will be meeting in March, it's the time to start working for a budget increase.' The report's author, Jiang Luming , director of the Military Economic Study Centre of the National Defence University, said: 'We have to integrate our national defence construction and the modernisation programme with our social and economic development.' Professor Jiang said although the central government had raised the military budget over the years, shortfalls persisted. He warned that serious shortages of well-qualified soldiers, insufficient innovation in weaponry, and the fragmentation of the armed forces into too many branches were hindering the PLA's goal of catching up with the armed forces of other countries. 'The lack of innovation in our war industry groundwork and poor productivity means that our development of defence technologies is experiencing bottlenecks,' he said. Mr Chang said the PLA had still not transformed itself from a simple fighting force into a defence-industry power capable of manufacturing innovative weaponry rather than just copying western designs. 'From fighters to light-duty rifles, none of them has Chinese character because none of the weapons were really designed by the Chinese,' he said. 'In this area, I think even India is better than China.'