While one country’s economic progress does not necessarily come at the expense of another, such a strong rise in military expenditures necessarily reflects a changing balance of power.
Military hardware and developments are one thing. Displayed intentions and actions are another. Whereas the increase in capacities has been continuous for at least 32 years, strategic intentions have varied - or they have exited Deng Xiaoping’s era of calculated ambiguity, well expressed by the formula translated as "hide your capacities and bide your time". Yet, some characteristics have endured. They can be described as follows: challenge and intimidate, but do not cross the red line of an escalating conflict; stay in control of the tension, describe your own position as merely reactive and operate within a grey zone, using in part paramilitary forces. This is an incremental strategy rather than a great leap one - for the time being.