China announces military spending budget amid ongoing territorial dispute
(6 March 2014)
The annual meeting of the People’s Republic of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) announced on Wednesday its biggest rise in military spending in three years. The Chinese government has stated it will increase the defence budget by 12.2% this year to 808.23 billion Yuan ($131.57 billion), seeking to develop high-tech weapons and strengthen coastal and air defences. China, which spent $114.5 billion on defence in 2013, thus seems set to maintain its role as the world’s second largest defence spender, behind the United States.
The budget comes amid China’s ongoing territorial dispute with Japan over the East China Sea archipelago of Diaoyu/Senkaku as well as its claims in the South China Sea which are challenged by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress commented that if any state “provokes or undermines security” in the region China would “respond effectively to safeguard its territorial integrity and regional security”.
China has further called on the United States to accept its growing security presence in the disputed region with Fu Ying stating, “If the US cares about peace and prosperity, it should support China’s aspirations for safeguarding territorial integrity and regional peace. The US has stated publicly that it has no plans to contain China and that its ‘pivot’ to Asia is not directed at China. We want to see if words are matched by actions”.
Premier Li Keqiang stated at the opening of the National People’s Congress that the Chinese 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. We will comprehensively enhance the revolutionary nature of the Chinese armed forces, further modernise them and upgrade their performance, and continue to raise their deterrence and combat capabilities in the information age”.
Tensions remain high following China’s unilateral decision to create an air defence identification zone over the East China Sea archipelago in November 2013. China sent warplanes into its newly declared zone in response to Japanese and South Korean surveillance aircraft monitoring the area.
China’s enhanced military budget continues a trend of increased militarisation in the region. In December 2013 Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a new national defence and security spending proposal to incorporate improved air and maritime surveillance and an enhanced ability to defend the disputed East China Sea archipelago. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Japan ranks fifth in the world for military expenditure.
“China sends military air patrols into their newly demarcated airspace over disputed East China Sea archipelago increasing regional tensions”, International Boundaries Research Unit, 2nd December 2013. https://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/news/boundary_news/?itemno=19493&rehref=%2Fibru%2Fnews%2F&resubj=Boundary+news Headlines.
“Japan boosts military spending amid tensions over East China Sea archipelago”, International Boundaries Research Unit, 19th December 2013. https://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/news/boundary_news/?itemno=19672&rehref=%2Fibru%2Fnews%2F&resubj=Boundary+news Headlines.
“China warns neighbours on territorial disputes”, Charles Clover and Demetri Sevastopulo, Financial Times, 4th March 2014. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/377e9440-a379-11e3-88b0-00144feab7de.html#axzz2v4iYVvrN.
“China media: Military spending”, BBC News, 5th March 2014. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-26445553.
“China’s Xi ramps up military spending in face of worried region”, Michael Martina and Greg Torode, Reuters, 5th March 2014. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/05/china-parliament-defence-idUSL3N0M10UT20140305.