The QDR seems to not have a great deal to say about China. This the most extended discussion that I can seem to find, on page 60:
China’s growing presence and influence in regional and global economic and security affairs is one of the most consequential aspects of the evolving strategic landscape in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. In particular, China’s military has begin to develop new roles, missions, and capabilities in support of its growing regional and global interests, which could enable it to play a more substantial and constructive role in international affairs. The United States welcomes a strong, prosperous, and successful China that plays a greater global role. The United States welcomes the positive benefits that can accrue from greater cooperation. However, lack of transparency and the nature of China’s military development and decision-making process raise legitimate questions about its future conduct and intentions within Asia and beyond. Our relationship with China must therefore be multidimensional and undergirded by a process of enhancing confidence and reducing mistrust in a manner that reinforces mutual interest. The United States and China should sustain open channels of communication to discuss disagreements in ordert o manage and ultimately reduce the risks of conflict that are inherent in any relationshop as broad and complex as that shared by these two nations.
I think that’s all easy enough to accept as far as it goes. But I think it also illustrates that for all the vastness of its budget, the Department of Defense has a limited relevance to the international relationships that really matter. When you think about the impact of China on the lives of Americans, the complicated interplay between trade flows, budget deficits, and currency value is far, far, far more significant than this business about how China’s defense budget isn’t fully transparent. But that’s all the Treasury Department’s problem.
This in turn highlights the fact that it seems pointless to try to draw a budgetary distinction between “security” and “non-security” agencies. Our interests around the world are inherently connected to the impact of the world on events inside our borders.