China plans double-digit boost in military spending
China will raise its military spending by 11.2 percent in 2012 as the Asian giant worries about the US presence in the region.
China said Sunday that it would boost its defense spending by 11.2 percent in 2012, the latest in a nearly two-decade string of double-digit increases.Skip to next paragraph
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Although the planned figure is less than last year's 12.7 percent increase, China's military leaders have said they are unhappy with recent moves by the Obama administration to increase the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Only twice since the early 1990s has the increase been less than double digits.
National People's Congress spokesman, Li Zhaoxing, said China's defense spending would increase by 11.2 percent over actual spending last year to hit 670.2 billion yuan ($106.4 billion) in 2012, an increase of about 67 billion yuan.
China's official defense spending is the largest in the world after the United States, but actual spending, according to foreign defense experts, may be 50 percent higher, as China excludes outlays for its nuclear missile force and other programs.
Li, speaking at a news conference a day before the opening of the annual session of the congress, said China's military spending was small as a percentage of gross domestic product compared to other countries, especially the United States.
"China is committed to the path of peaceful development and follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature," Li said. "You see, China has 1.3 billion people, a large territory and long coastline, but our defense spending is relatively low compared with other major countries."
Last year's military spending amounted to 1.28 percent of China's economy, Li said. By contrast, the ratio stood at 4.8 percent for the US in 2010, according to the World Bank.
The increase in defense spending is part of China' long-term military modernization process, but also is partly spurred by Obama's new emphasis on the Asia-Pacific, said Sarah McDowall, a senior analyst at IHS Jane's, a London-based security consultancy.
"It is important to note that Beijing views itself as reacting to the increasingly assertive policies of other countries and has repeatedly said that it does not want to provoke military confrontation," McDowall was quoted as saying in a news release.