BEIJING, March 5 (RIA Novosti) - China will boost its official defense budget by 10.7 percent this year, the latest in a series of hikes in military spending stretching back more than two decades.
Beijing said on Tuesday in a draft budget submitted to the National People’s Congress (NPC) it will boost military spending to Rmb720 billion ($115 billion) in 2013. Last year’s defense budget was $103.6 billion, 11.6 percent more than in 2011.
“The funds will be used to improve the working and living conditions of officers and soldiers in all military units, enhance mechanization and provide IT services to the armed forces in the interest of ensuring national defense security,” the draft budget says.
China’s rising defense spending is causing serious concern in the West and to some of its neighbors. According to some forecasts, its defense spending will reach $238 billion by 2015.
News of the rising defense spend follows recent bouts of saber-rattling between China, Japan and South Korea over disputed islands, in which all three have put warships to sea around the disputed territories.
On Monday, Fu Ying, official spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress, said the country needs “stable self-defense” and that its growing military power is “in the interest of regional stability and peace throughout the world.”
“If such a large country as China cannot ensure its security, that is bad news for the rest of the world,” she said.
The almost 3,000 deputies to the 12th NPC, which started today and will last until March 17, will formally appoint a new president and vice president, decide on a new cabinet, consider a government institutional reform plan and discuss national priorities in the coming years.
Outgoing president Hu Jintao will be replaced by Xi Jinping, who took over as general secretary of the Communist party four months ago, while Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will be replaced by Li Keqiang.