China to increase defense spending by 11.2%

March 5, 2012 BEIJING China plans to increase defense spending 11.2 percent this year as the country’s expanding global commitments and lingering territorial disputes drive demand for more warships, missiles and fighter planes. Military spending is set to rise this year to about 670 billion yuan ($106.4 billion), Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for China’s National People’s Congress, said yesterday ahead of a speech today by Premier Wen Jiabao to open the annual 10-day session of the country’s legislature. China’s defense spending, the second highest in the world after the U.S., has risen in tandem with the expansion of its economy and a new focus by the Obama administration on the Asia- Pacific region. China is also involved in spats with Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan over control of oil- and gas-rich waters and has a lingering territorial dispute with India that erupted into a war in 1962. “China’s got a lot of things that require a state to have military hardware for,” Geoff Raby, who was Australia’s ambassador to China until last year, said in a telephone interview. “China lives in a neighborhood where it doesn’t have any natural allies or friends.” Defense spending has more than doubled since 2006, tracking a rise in nominal gross domestic product from 20.9 trillion yuan to 47.2 trillion yuan in that time. The growing defense budget has stoked concerns among China’s neighbors and the U.S., which announced last year a strategic shift toward Asia including deploying forces to a base in Australia. Chinese defense spending as a percentage of GDP was about 1.3 percent in 2011, falling from about 1.4 percent in 2006. –Business Week
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