China boosts defence budget by 11.20% for 2012 | business | Hindustan Times
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China boosts defence budget by 11.20% for 2012

China's defence budget will rise 11.2% in 2012 to 670.27 billion yuan ($106.41 billion), a government spokesman said today, amid growing concerns about Beijing's military build-up.

business Updated: Mar 04, 2012 10:21 IST

China's defence budget will rise 11.2% in 2012 to 670.27 billion yuan ($106.41 billion), a government spokesman said on Sunday, amid growing concerns about Beijing's military build-up.

The figure was contained in a budgetary report submitted to the National People's Congress, the parliament's spokesman Li Zhaoxing told a press conference on the eve of the opening of the forum's annual session.

The number marks a slowdown from 2011 when defence spending rose by 12.7% but it is still likely to fuel persistent concerns over China's growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We have a large country and a long coastline but our defence spending is relatively low compared with other major countries," Li told reporters.

China has been increasing its military spending by double digits for most of the past decade as its economy, now the world's second largest, grew at a blistering pace.

Analysts believe actual spending is much higher than the official figure.

The People's Liberation Army -- the world's largest with an estimated 2.3 million troops -- is hugely secretive about its defence programmes, but insists the modernisation of its army is purely defensive in nature.

The rapid military build-up has nevertheless set alarm bells ringing across Asia and in Washington, which announced in January a defence strategy focused on countering China's rising power.