China’s Military Budget Increase Draws Responses from Asian Powers

China’s Military Budget Increase Draws Responses from Asian Powers

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.

 

CHINA

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.

The Global Times elaborated on this rationale in several pieces:

INDIA

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.

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.”

  • C. Uday Bhaskar, former director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, praised the “clarity and determination” of China’s political leadership in modernizing its military. “A complete contrast is visible in India, [in which] no political stakeholder seems to have such levels of commitment to national security.”
  • In the same ETarticle, unnamed military officers also voiced support for indigenous military production, as well as a greater role for the military in national decision-making processes.
  • According to another ET article, “Outgoing army chief VK Singh has cautioned that the war-waging capability of the army has been hamstrung by long delays in procurement decisions.”

Some commentary discussed broader geopolitical implications:

On the transparency of China’s military budget:

JAPAN

Government officials and Japan commentators voiced disquiet over China’s double-digit military budget increase while simultaneously calling on China to exercise greater responsibility by making its military spending more transparent. 

  • Top government spokesman Osamu Fujimura expressed concern over China’s military budget increase, urging China to “boost transparency through an exchange of dialogue in the field of security.”
  • An editorial in the Yomiuri Shimbun concurred, asserting that the opacity of China’s military spending “leaves Japan with no alternative but to maintain its vigilance” and “strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance to boost its deterrent power. “
  • Citing a “high ranking Chinese military officer,” the Asahi Shimbun stated that China’s actual defense budget for fiscal year 2011 was about 1.7 times higher than the officially announced figure. Thus, the Asahi predicts, “the actual amount earmarked for the Chinese military is almost certainly considerably larger [than the amount announced].”

 RUSSIA 

Although the Russian media had little to say on China’s military budget increase, the final text of a report outlining Russia’s economic development strategy until 2020, released earlier this month, identifies the growth of China’s economic potential and international status as a “main risk” for Russia. Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, expands on the implications of the Strategy 2020 report:  “Russia is clearly apprehensive about the rise of China. For the first time in recent history, Russia is weaker than its neighbor, and the gap will continue growing … how should Russia co-exist with China today and in the next five to 10 years if the current dynamics persist?”

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