SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China’s official military budget for 2010 will rise 7.5 percent over last year, an official said on Thursday, ending a long period of double-digit increases in official defense spending.
Parliamentary spokesman Li Zhaoxing said the increase would bring the defense budget for the year to 532.1 billion yuan, compared to 480.7 billion spent on defense in 2009.
Here is reaction from analysts and officials:
IKUO KAYAHARA, PROFESSOR OF SECURITY STUDIES, TAKUSHOKU UNIVERSITY, JAPAN
“The world has been criticizing China for increasing its defense budget by more than 10 percent every year. China may be reacting to this by trying to show that it is not focused only on expanding its armed forces.
“Another point could be that the government has made a plan to improve the lives of ordinary people by 2020. They may be concentrating funds on that.
“It’s surprising that it’s gone below 10 percent. I thought it would go up by about 15 percent. I think the armed forces will be dissatisfied.”
ANDREW YANG, DEPUTY MINISTER OF NATIONAL Defense, TAIWAN
“We follow very closely the budget situation from China every year. Over 20 years it certainly raises a lot of concerns.
“They’re putting a lot of resources into modernization, including advanced weapons systems. They are gradually increasing the accuracy and precision of attack capabilities. That kind of improvement certainly raises the eyebrows of surrounding countries in Asia and especially the United States.”
RON HUISKEN, CHINA Defense EXPERT, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
“The announced budget over the past 10 years has really gyrated enormously. It’s a bit low, but that history reinforces to me that this figure means a bit less than it might suggest.
“All the evidence suggests that they are on a very powerful trajectory of expansion in substantive terms, and they seem to use this figure for political purposes almost, to send signals.
“It may be that their style was a bit cramped by the global financial crisis, like everybody else’s, but beyond that I wouldn’t read too much into a one year drop in the rate.
“In real terms, even by their own calculations, it’s been growing by about 10 percent every year for the last 20 years, and that’s a pretty healthy rate of increase.”
WENDELL MINNICK, ASIA BUREAU CHIEF WITH DEFENSE NEWS, TAIPEI
“You could certainly say a 7.5 percent increase is a willingness to flex their muscles. Taiwan is waiting anxiously for the (full) report.
“Military spending is not just about Taiwan. They’re preparing for anti-piracy (near Somalia) in the Middle East and they have a massive shipbuilding program.”
Reporting by Reuters bureaux