From K J M Varma Beijing, Mar 4: Notwithstanding its slowing economy, China is set to hike its defence expenditure by around 10 per cent, posting a double-digit annual increase in its proposed military spending for the fifth year in a row.
Amid territorial and maritime disputes with its neighbours, the world's largest military continues to maintain high defence spending to modernise its military in a bid to catch up with the US. China's proposed defence expenditure is expected to be about USD 145 billion, overshadowing India's defence budget of USD 40 billion.
China will raise its defense budget by around 10 per cent this year, compared with last year's 12.2 per cent, Fu Ying, Spokesperson of China's legislature -- National People's Congress (NPC), told a media briefing ahead of its annual session starting tomorrow. The exact figure will be published in a budget report tomorrow, she said. China's defence budget rose by 12.2 percent last year to about USD 132 billion riding on a multi-year run of double- digit increases.
A growth rate of about 10 per cent could be the lowest in five years, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. However, it would also be the fifth year in a row of double-digit increases, despite slowing economic growth that fell to 7.4 per cent last year and is expected to further decline in 2015.
Analysts say China's defence spending has increased ten-fold over the past quarter of a century fired by double-digit growth every year and the acquisition and the development of sophisticated weapons and missiles systems points to big-picture ambitions. Fu said, as a big country, China needs an army that can safeguard its national security and people. "To tell the truth, there is still a gap between China's armed forces (and foreign counterparts) in terms of overall military equipment.
We still need more time," Fu said adding that the capital support is needed for the modernisation of China's national defence and its army.
"Lagging behind leaves one vulnerable to attacks. That is a lesson we have learned from history," she said. China's defence policy is defensive in nature, Fu stressed.
"Compared with major countries in the world, the road to China's defense modernisation is indeed a difficult one," Fu said. "We have to rely on ourselves for most of our military equipment and research. Sometimes we have to do these from the very beginning," she said. Fu said China's defence policy is defensive in nature and its past achievements in reform and opening up come not from "cannons and warships" but from mutually-beneficial cooperation.