China says defense budget to rise 11.2% in 2012 | Inquirer News

China says defense budget to rise 11.2% in 2012

/ 12:13 PM March 04, 2012

BEIJING – China’s defence budget will rise 11.2 percent in 2012 to 670.27 billion yuan ($106.41 billion), a government spokesman said Sunday, amid growing concerns about Beijing’s military build-up.

The figure was contained in a budgetary report submitted to the National People’s Congress, the parliament’s spokesman Li Zhaoxing told a press conference on the eve of the opening of the forum’s annual session.

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The number marks a slowdown from 2011 when defense spending rose by 12.7 percent but it is still likely to fuel persistent concerns over China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We have a large country and a long coastline but our defense spending is relatively low compared with other major countries,” Li told reporters.

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China has been increasing its military spending by double digits for most of the past decade as its economy, now the world’s second largest, grew at a blistering pace.

Analysts believe actual spending is much higher than the official figure.

The People’s Liberation Army – the world’s largest with an estimated 2.3 million troops – is hugely secretive about its defense programs, but insists the modernization of its army is purely defensive in nature.

The rapid military build-up has nevertheless set alarm bells ringing across Asia and in Washington, which announced in January a defense strategy focused on countering China’s rising power.

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TAGS: China, Defense, Military, State budget
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