The scale of China's military research and development effort has been underestimated in the open source literature, perhaps by as much as 50%, says Associate Professor Tai Ming Cheung, director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California. It's difficult to find exact figures, says Professor Cheung, but he's confident that China is now second only to the US in military R&D spending.

I interviewed Professor Cheung after his presentation at the International Institute of Strategic Studies' Geo-Economics and Strategy conference here in Bahrain, and as you will hear, the ambition of China's R&D effort is vast. But it also has important constraints and weaknesses.

It's also worth flagging Tai's last answer, where he talks about the impact of the 1999 Belgrade Embassy bombing on the motivations of China's leadership when it comes to defence modernisation.

You can listen here.

Photo courtesy of Sinodefence Forum.