|Chinese military officers|
However, the study published Friday also says that many outside analysts' estimates of Chinese military spending - including those of the U.S. military - are much too high.
The nearly 300 - page report was prepared by the RAND Corporation, a research group that studies many issues for the Pentagon. A team of economists - who studied a variety of Chinese information sources - concluded that China's military spending is 40 percent to 70 percent higher than figures made public by the People's Liberation Army.
The lead author of the U.S. study Keith Crane says China's defense spending has more than doubled during the past six years and is currently nearly as high as that of Japan and Britain.
During 2003, the American researchers say China spent between $31 billion and $38 billion on its military. Beijing said it spent $25 billion on defense, while the U.S. Defense Department estimated China spent up to $71 billion.
The RAND study says China's military spending consumes between 2.3 percent and 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product, compared to U.S. defense spending at a rate of 3.9 percent of GDP.
Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.