On Wednesday, China announced that it would increase its military spending to almost $132 billion for 2014; this is a 12.2% increase from the budget of last year. This acts as the biggest rise in military spending in three years; signalling that President Xi Jinping is not about to back away from its growing assertiveness in Asia. Speaking at the opening of China’s annual session of parliament, Premier Li Keqiang said the government would “strengthen research on national defence and the development of new- and high-technology weapons and equipment” and “enhance border, coastal and air defences”.
This rise in the defence capabilities of the country furthers the indication that they want to become a dominant military presence in the Pacific. China now has the second largest military spending budget in the world, second only to the United States, where it has stood for the past two decades. This increase comes as the global community is becoming increasingly conscious of China’s rising political influence and the power of China’s economy – now also second largest in the world. An associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College said “China’s military budget growth continues to steam ahead rapidly, driven by an economic engine that – at least until recently – seemed indefatigable”. He further went on to say “Today China is the envy of the world: no other major power can sustain the rate of military or economic growth. But what if China’s economic locomotive continues to slow down, even as competing societal claims cause increasing burdens and expectations to be hitched to it?”.
The increase in China’s military budget is arguably a cause for concern for other Asian nations; in particular Japan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said “The transparency of China’s defence policy and military capacity, or lack thereof, has become a matter of concern for the international community, including Japan,”.