China’s Xi ramps up military spending in face of worried region

by
March 6, 2014

BEIJING/HONG KONG | China announced its biggest rise in military spending in three years on Wednesday, a strong signal from President Xi Jinping that Beijing is not about to back away from its growing assertiveness in Asia, especially in disputed waters.

The government said it would increase the defense budget by 12.2 percent this year to 808.23 billion yuan ($131.57 billion), as China seeks to develop more high-tech weapons and to beef up coastal and air defenses.

The increase follows a nearly unbroken run of double-digit hikes in the Chinese defense budget, second only to the United States in size, for the past two decades.

“This is worrying news for China’s neighbors, particularly for Japan,” said Rory Medcalf, a regional security analyst at the independent Lowy Institute in Sydney.

Those who thought Xi might prefer to concentrate on domestic development over military expansion in a slowing economy had “underestimated the Chinese determination to shape its strategic environment”, he added.

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