Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara on Friday voiced concern over China’s rising defense budget, which marked double-digit spending growth in 2011.
“It is an extremely high ratio for defense spending,” Maehara told a press conference following China’s release of the defense budget plan.
“We are gravely concerned over how China will spend the budget to improve armament,” he said, adding, “China is reported to have plans to construct aircraft carriers and develop stealth combat aircraft.” Maehara also said Tokyo will continue encouraging China to show more transparency.
Earlier in the day, China announced it will increase its defense budget by 12.7 percent to CNY 601 billion (USD 91.5 billion) this year compared with a 7.5 percent increase in 2010, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The year’s draft defense budget accounted for about 6 percent of the country’s total budget, Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, told a press conference in Beijing.
The figures were contained in a budgetary report submitted for approval to the National People’s Congress, which opens its annual 10-day session on Saturday, said Li, a former foreign minister.
Until 2009, China posted the 21st straight year of double-digit spending growth for its military. China’s defense expenditure has caused unease among some countries, such as the US and Japan, prompting them to demand Beijing to boost transparency in its military spending, which is believed to be as high as several times the reported figure.
“There is no such thing as the so-called hidden military expenditure in China, and the budget is subject to auditing from the government and military, ” said Li, adding that the bulk of the spending would go towards moderately improving armament, military training, human resource development, infrastructure of grassroots units and the living standards of the servicemen.
“The ratio of China’s military spending in its total gross domestic product is about 1.4 percent, lower than many countries,” said Li.