China’s defence budget will double between 2011 and 2015 and outstrip the combined spending of all other key defence markets in the Asia-Pacific region, global research group IHS said on Tuesday.
China's defence budget stood at $119.8 billion last year and will rise to $238.2 billion in 2015, marking a combined annual growth rate of 18.75% during the period, the US-based IHS said in a forecast.
The 2015 figure exceeds the combined total of the next 12 biggest defence budgets in the region, forecast to hit $232.5 billion, and will be almost four times second-placer Japan's defence spending that year, it added.
"Beijing has been able to devote an increasingly large portion of its overall budget towards defence and has been steadily building up its military capabilities for more than two decades," said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist for IHS Global Insight."This will continue unless there is an economic catastrophe."
The growth in China's defence budget — which averaged 12% annually from 2000-2009 — will benefit from the projected surge in the gross domestic product of Asia's largest economy in the next three years.
China will use the additional cash to modernise its equipment while reducing its manpower, resulting in a higher amount of funding per member of its armed forces.
Ready to seek South Sea solution
Meanwhile, in the wake of US forging alliances in the region, China has softened its stand on the South China Sea disputes saying that it is ready to explore solutions with the countries involved under reasonable conditions.
"China is ready to consider exploring solutions to the South China Sea disputes with all relevant parties under reasonable conditions," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.
"But the most important immediate task is to advance practical cooperation with Southeast Asian countries to create an atmosphere in which to solve these disputes," a dailyquoted him saying.