Double-digit rise for China's military spending | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 05, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 05, 2011

Double-digit rise for China's military spending

China announced a renewed double-digit hike in military spending yesterday after funding slowed last year, but insisted the nearly $92 billion outlay posed no external threat despite concerns abroad.
The defence budget will rise 12.7 percent in 2011 to $91.7 billion, said Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for China's national parliament, citing a budget report to be submitted to the rubber-stamp legislature.
"China has always paid attention to controlling the size of defence spending," Li, a former foreign minister, told reporters.
He described the budget as "relatively low" as a percentage of gross domestic product compared with the rest of the world.
But the number represents a return to double-digit increases in military spending, which have alarmed the United States, Japan, Australia and several of China's Asian neighbours.
That multi-year trend had been broken in 2010 when the budget rose 7.5 percent. In any case, many analysts say the announced budget is far lower than actual spending.
The People's Liberation Army -- the world's largest -- is hugely secretive about its defence programmes, but insists its modernisation is purely defensive in nature to protect China's vast land and sea borders.
"This will not pose a threat to any country," said Li, adding the spending figure represented six percent of the total national budget in the world's second-largest economy.
Willy Lam, a China analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the published military budget -- which he noted was likely only one-third to one-half of actual spending -- will be poured into next-generation equipment.
"The return to this double-digit PLA budget reflects the growing power of the PLA," Lam told AFP. "They are trying to close the gap with Russia and the United States."
Tokyo has repeatedly questioned Beijing's military intentions, especially after collisions in disputed waters in September between two Japanese coastguard boats and a Chinese fishing vessel that sparked a major row.

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