China’s defense budget will for the first time top $100 billion this year, a 11.2 percent increase over last year, raising new concerns in the region about its rapid military development.
“We have a large territory and a long coastline, but our defense spending is relatively low compared with other major countries,” said Li Zhaoxing, spokesperson of National People’s Congress. “It will not in the least pose a threat to other countries.”
The 11.2 percent growth of the investment represents a slow down from last year, when the amount was 12.7 percent higher than in 2010.
It is however doubtful that China’s neighbors will see this as comforting news, since most countries are aware that the real budget is at least double the published one, according to Willy Lam, a well-known China expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
China has placed growing amounts of money in developing its military capacity, raising the investment by double digits for most of the past decade, and pushing its neighbors in seeking closer ties with the United States.
China’s defense budget could double between 2011 and 2015, reaching a figure that surpasses the combined investments of all important defense markets in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a recent report by global research group IHS.