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China Announces Increase in Military Spending

China unveiled plans Thursday for a new military budget that calls for a near 10 percent increase in spending "with a view to adapting to changes in the international situation."

The announcement, in a preliminary budget document at the country's legislature, raises China's military budget to $22.4 billion, a 9.6 percent hike.

That budget, released Thursday morning, was scheduled for presentation to the National People's Congress by Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng.

It was drawn up, according to Xiang, "with a view to adapting to changes in the international situation, safeguarding national security and sovereignty and territorial integrity and raising the combat effectiveness of the armed forces in fighting wars to defend the country with the use of high technology."

China has raised its military budget consistently -- in double digits for the last 13 years. This announced budget barely misses the double-digit marker and is significantly smaller than last year's increase, though actual spending for the entire People's Liberation Army is believed to be much more.

A good portion of that military budget will go to covering personnel costs. Many of China's soldiers are poorly paid, and officers as high as generals at last year's congress expressed dissatisfaction at the funding given their operation.

China's budget is being presented a day after officials identified poverty as the top concern facing the incoming leadership lineup.

Military spending, as reported, grew by 17.6 percent in China last year. But its true spending may be as much as four times the official figure. Experts put the figure at $35 billion to $55 billion.