Beijing to boost budget for defense
BEIJINGChina will boost military spending by 11.2 percent this year, the government said yesterday, unveiling Beijing’s first defense budget since President Barack Obama launched a “pivot” to reinforce U.S. influence across the Asia-Pacific.
The increase was announced by Li Zhaoxing, the spokesman for China’s parliament, and will bring official spending on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to $110 billion for 2012, after a 12.7 percent increase last year and a nearly unbroken string of double-digit rises across two decades.
Beijing’s public budget is widely thought by foreign experts to undercount its real spending on military modernization, which has unnerved Asian neighbors and drawn repeated calls from Washington for China to share more about its intentions. Li said the world has nothing to fear, and the money spent on the PLA paled in comparison with the Pentagon’s outlays. “You can see that we have 1.3 billion people with a large land areas and a long coastline, but our outlays on defense are quite low compared to other major countries,” Li told a news conference before the annual session of the National People’s Congress, the Communist Party-controlled legislature that will approve the budget.
China’s official defense spending is the largest in the world after the U.S., 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. Obama has sought to reassure Asian allies that the U.S. will stay a key player in the area, and the Pentagon has said it will “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region”. Obama’s proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2013 calls for a Pentagon base budget of $525.4 billion, about $5.1 billion less than approved for 2012.