Communist China continues to increase its defense budget in a way that worries its neighbours, particularly Taiwan and Japan:
China will beef up its military budget by 12.7 percent this year, the government said yesterday, a return to double-digit spending increases that will stir regional unease.
The country’s growing military clout has coincided with a more assertive diplomatic tone, evident in spats last year with Japan and Southeast Asia over disputed islands and in rows with Washington over trade, the yuan and human rights.
National People’s Congress (NPC) spokesman Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) said the defense budget would increase from 532.1 billion (US$81 billion) yuan last year to 601.1 billion yuan this year. The budget went up by just 7.5 percent last year, after a long period of double-digit hikes.
Many experts believe China’s actual spending on the 2.3 million-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is far higher than the figures the government reports.
“It’s widely accepted that these figures bear only a marginal relationship with the actual overall spending. Overall, it means the Chinese are saying we are going to [boost] our defense budget, whatever the real numbers are,” said Dean Cheng, a China security expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
“The PLA is an important and powerful force in decision-making and there is obviously a desire to signal to the Chinese public and Chinese nationalists that China is going to continue to get stronger,” said Rory Medcalf of Australian think tank the Lowy Institute.
Some officials in Taiwan are especially alarmed. China has about 1,400 missiles aimed at the island, according to the government.
“China’s military power is now growing quickly,” said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Lin Yu-Fang (林郁方), who is also a member of the Legislative Yuan’s defense committee, in response to the Chinese budget number.
“The United States should help us turn the situation around, and we hope European countries will also sell us advanced weapons,” he said
Read the entire article in the Taipei Times here.
Also Japan is worried about China´s defense build-up:
Japanese Foreign Minsiter Seiji Maehara on Friday expressed fresh concern over China's ballooning defense spending, after Beijing announced a double-digit increase in its secretive military budget.
Li said the figure represented six percent of the total national budget in the world's second-largest economy.
"It is an extremely high ratio for defense spending," Maehara told reporters during a press conference. "We cannot help worrying about what all the money is used for."
"We have great concerns," he said, adding Tokyo will "continue encouraging China to increase transparency."
Tokyo has repeatedly questioned Beijing's military intentions.
In December Japan called China's military rise a source of international "concern" in its 10-year defense guidelines, following Beijing's increased assertiveness in territorial disputes in the East China and South China seas.
Read the entire piece here.
Ten frightening facts about the Chinese defense build-up:
China has the world's largest military, with 2.3 million active personnel and 1.2 million in reserve. By comparison America has under 3 million in total active and reserve personnel.
CHINA'S GROUND FORCE: 1.9 million personnel, 14,000 tanks, 14,500 artillery units, 453 helicopters.
CHINA'S AIR FORCE: 470,000 personnel, 2,556 jet fighters, 400 ground attack jets
CHINA'S NAVY: 250,000 personnel, 66 submarines, 27 destroyers, 52 frigates
CHINA'S MISSILE ARSENAL: 100,000 personnel, 140 nuclear missiles, 1,000 conventional theater missiles
NEW WEAPON: The Dong Feng 21D is a land-based missile capable of striking an aircraft carrier as far as 2,000 miles offshore
China bought the rights to license and reproduce the Sukhoi-27 fighter jet from the Soviet Union, after its collapse
By 2020 China is expected to have a fleet of carriers, fitting of a 'great naval power'. It will have its first this year
Pentagon officials believe that China has secretly built a base, capable of housing up to 20 nuclear submarines, on Hainan Island.
China has now developed and tested its first stealth fighter jet, the J-20. The U.S. is the only other country in the world to have a stealth fighter.
Read the entire article here.
One can only wonder, why China chooses this expensive defense build-up instead of focusing on improving the lot of hundreds of millions of poor Chinese people.