World Bulletin / News Desk
China is to increase defense spending by 10 percent this year, state media said Wednesday.
Reporting on the National People's Congress, the annual gathering of the country’s top legislative body, Xinhua news agency reported spokeswoman Fu Ying as saying the rise was a smaller increase than previous years.
Last year the defense budget rose by 12.2 percent and has stood at more than 10 percent for the past five years. The smaller increase comes after growth slowed to 7.4 percent last year, with a further slowdown expected this year.
"To tell the truth, there is still a gap between China's armed forces [and foreign counterparts] in terms of overall military equipment,” Fu said at a press conference ahead of the congress.
"Lagging behind leaves one vulnerable to attacks. That is a lesson we have learned from history.”
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that the People’s Liberation Army, which runs all China’s armed forces, has been criticized in the past for a lack of transparency over its budget.
The newspaper said it was not previously known that a third of military spending goes on the salaries of the armed forces’ 2.3 million personnel – the world’s largest armed force.
Some experts believe China’s spending on its armed forces is much higher than officially disclosed figures.
According the IHS Jane’s military publishers, China’s defense budget rose to the equivalent of $148 billion in 2014, second to the $574 billion U.S. defense budget.
China is currently embroiled in territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and is concerned about increased U.S. influence in the Pacific region.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Mart 2015, 11:00