Beijing deploys the world's biggest army, its defence spending is rising faster than any other power and, to cap it all, its forces will this month carry out their first spacewalk.
With India, Japan and Russia also investing heavily in defence, a new Asian arms race is under way. According to official figures, Beijing's military budget this year is 418 billion yuan - £35 billion - a rise of 17.8 per cent on 2007. This already exceeds Britain's defence budget of £34 billion and places China's military spending second only to the US.
According to figures from Jane's, the military specialists, it has risen by 178 per cent in the past seven years, even after adjusting for inflation. At this rate, China will spend £180 billion - half of the Pentagon's current budget and five times Britain's - by 2020.
But the greatest change is not in how much China is spending, but where the investment is going. Under Chairman Mao, China regarded the army as a massed revolutionary block whose sheer scale would simply absorb any threat, foreign or domestic.
Only since the first Gulf War in 1991 has China started focusing on the new generation of military hardware it may face in the event of war. Beijing's military planners know they cannot rely on China's size alone as a deterrent.