The military budget of China will be increased with approximately 10 per cent this year compared to 2014, a government official announced on Wednesday.
This measure was taken by the Beijing officials in spite of a slowing economic growth, which was of 7.4% last year and is expected to decline even more in 2015.
The announcement was made by Parliament spokeswoman Fu Ying in a press conference. She added that last year, defense spending rose at a higher pace, of 12.2 percent.
The Chinese military budget will reach about $145 billion, though experts suggest it could be up to 50 percent larger, as the budget doesn’t account for research or high-tech weapons imports.
China is the world’s second military big spender, after the United States, which still invests more in the armed forces than the next eight countries combined. The US defense budget stands at $534 billion this year.
The 10 per cent increase of China’s military budget is to be confirmed Thursday, when the National People’s Congress will open in Beijing.
Other Asian nations, like Japan, the Philippines or Vietnam are unnerved by China’s actions to steadily increase and modernize it’s military force. Japan has only increased it’s defense budget by 2.8% this year, to a record of $42 billion, while India moved up 11 per cent, with big investments in the air forces and navy. New Delhi expressed it’s concerns about the ever growing presence of the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.
China also focuses on it’s navy, which it has modernized greatly in the last years. Beijing is involved in a few disputes in the East and South China Seas, but it motivates that the increase in budgets are aimed at improving the conditions for the People’s Liberation Army, which is the world’s largest second military, with over 2.3 million members.
“The road of China’s defense modernization is more problematic, compared with great powers. Fundamentally speaking, China’s policy is defensive in nature”, Fu Ying said according to Reuters.
It is expected that China will also invest heavily into satellites and cyber capabilities, but also in submarines.
Beijing says it faces a terrorist threat in the Xinjiang region, in Western China, from Islamist militants and wants to set up a new legislation that would allow the country’s army to be sent abroad on counter-terrorism missions.
Image Source: Kings of War