China’s Defense Budget Draws Concern

An announcement ahead of the National People’s Congress about increases in China’s military budget has generated statements of concern from the Japanese government, the Wall Street Journal reports:

The comments came after China announced plans early Friday to increase its defense budget by 13% this year and as the week’s clashes built on concerns that China will increasingly use its escalating military power to assert its territorial claims in the region

Such fears have prompted many of its neighbors to to shore up defense ties with the U.S. and beef up their own militaries, threatening to push Asia into a new arms race.

China expects to spend 601.1 billion yuan ($91.4 billion) on defense in 2011, up from 533.4 billion yuan last year, Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the National People’s Congress, told a news conference ahead of the start of the legislature’s annual session on Saturday.

The projected rise is faster than last year’s 7.5% increase—the slowest clip in decades—but is significantly slower than the roughly 19% annual growth in years before 2010.

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