China is to increase its defence budget by 10.7 per cent this year. The rise continues a trend of double-digit hikes over the last 20 years. The authorities said military spending will reach 90 billion euros for 2013.
Despite the huge cash injection it underscores a trend of slower growth in the Chinese economy with Premier Wen Jiabao aiming for 7.5 percent growth this year, lower than previous projections.
Admiral Wang Jianxin says China is not sabre-rattling, but ensuring its security: “We do not wish to have a war. But the Chinese military personnel and forces are firmly determined in terms of safeguarding China’s security, interests, sovereignty and territory.”
China’s growing military might is a concern for its neighbours and the United States. Beijing’s assertive displays and long-standing territorial disputes with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam are making waves in the region.
Professor Alexander Huang, of the University of Tamkang in Taiwan, gave his assessment of Beijing’s military spending plans: “It tells us a lot of stories, including their heavy investment in advance weapon systems, naval, air and missile technology.”
Domestic security spending is even higher as the People’s Republic responds to the increasing number of “mass incidents” as it calls any protest against central or regional government.
That suggests that China is more concerned with internal instability than any external threat.