Earlier this month, China announced an 11.2% increase in its official defense budget, bringing the total figure to $110 billion (RMB 670 billion). Although this increase did not come as a surprise, the announcement still drew wary responses from India, Japan and Russia, which we examine in this post.
The message in the officially-sanctioned press was consistent across the board: China’s increasing military budget is in line with the nation’s overall economic growth, military modernization is necessary for responding to increasingly complex security challenges, and China is committed to peaceful development.
- Wen Bing, a researcher with the People’s Liberation Army, further emphasized that China will not join any form of arms race.
The Global Times elaborated on this rationale in several pieces:
- “The US ‘return to Asia’ has created a disturbance in China and neighboring countries. The fast growth of Asian military budgets is related to this factor,” stated the paper in an editorial. On a related note, Li Jie of the PLA’s Naval Research Institute argued, “Exaggerating China’s military power could help scare small countries around China and force them [to rely] more on the US.”
- Wei Guoan, a military strategist in Beijing, was also defensive: “If we are strong enough, I don’t think other countries would be as bold today in violating our territory, such as in the South China Sea.“
India is also reviewing its defense budget for 2012-13, which the government announced will be $38.5 billion (1.93 trillion rupees), or about one-third the size of China’s military spending. It was also reported that a high-level defense meeting had a special focus on China and Pakistan, in addition to internal security issues.
- While noting that India’s budget is up 13.1% from last year, the Hindustan Times urged the government to “prioritize defence acquisitions to fast track what we critically need…rather than buying what is readily available so as to spend the budget.”
This increase, though, is not without strains on other fiscal needs. Before it was announced, the Economic Times had reported that “the symbolic reminder of China’s official military budget crossing $100 billion couldn’t have come at a worse time for India that is seeing a series of steps to curtail defence spending due to mounting fiscal crisis.” (more…)Continue Reading →