China Spending Billions More On Defence
China is to increase its defence budget spending by 10.7%, the country's government has announced.
The increase means a total of RMB720bn (£76.4bn) will be allocated to the Chinese military.
The announcement said: "Funds will be used to support efforts to improve the working and living conditions of officers and enlisted personnel, make the armed forces more mechanised and information-based, and safeguard national security."
The announcement comes on the first day of China's National People's Congress (NPC).
The annual event holds more significance this year because it coincides with the once-in-a-decade leadership transition in the ruling Communist Party.
Some 3,000 delegates from provinces around the country gather in Beijing's Great Hall of the People for the 12-day event.
Together they create the world's largest parliament, whose job, in theory, is to vote on and enact laws proposed by the ruling party.
In practice though, the NPC is widely seen as nothing more than a rubber-stamping body which gives a nod to decisions that have already been made by the Communist Party.
The defence budget increase comes at a time of significant regional tensions.
China is locked in an increasingly bitter territorial dispute with Japan over a set of tiny islands in the East China Sea.
The two countries both hold a territorial claim to the islands and have come close to clashing on several occasions in recent months.
The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) has warned that the dispute is a threat to regional peace.
China has made no secret of its desire to project its power beyond its borders, but it is not alone in increasing its defence budget.
Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did the same in January and America has pledged to realign its forces towards the Asia-Pacific region over the coming decade.
The US annual defence budget in 2012 was £418bn, significantly more than China's publicly-stated increase to £76bn.
Senior British diplomatic sources have told Sky News of their concern over the China-Japan dispute.
The fear is that an accidental clash between the two navies could escalate matters very quickly.
A Japanese diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, recently told Sky News that there was currently no "hotline" between the two militaries, increasing the chances of a "misunderstanding".
The opening day of the National Party Congress is traditionally the moment for the outgoing Premier to deliver a speech reflecting on the achievements of the past 5 years.
Premier Wen Jiabao outlined a "truly extraordinary period of time in the course of China's development."
He ran through the figures which characterise China's continued rise over the past five years:
:: GDP up from £2.8tn to £5.5tn.
:: 58.7 million jobs created.
:: 18 million government-subsidised houses built.
:: 19,700km (12,241 miles) of railway laid.
:: 609,000km (378,415 miles) of roads constructed.
:: 31 new airports opened.
Premier Wen, who steps down during this congress, predicted the economy would grow by "around 7.5%" in 2013 but warned of challenges.
"Our country still faces many difficulties and challenges in its economic development in 2013, an we need to work hard if we want to attain a growth target of around 7.5%," he said.
The economy remains the biggest challenge for China. It has largely avoided a direct hit by the global economic crisis but the knock-on effects have slowed manufacturing and exports.
what do you think?
It's crazy, how much money is spent by warmongers like the US, and yet they still have poverty. Makes me laugh when you watch some of their programs where everyone is fit and healthy, living in a nice big house with all the trimmings. Truth is, they are a bunch of fat lazy pigs, and a lot of them live in slum conditions. Not the military, of course.
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As they grow we decline towards a telephone answering machine saying 'we surrender' - the economics are not flawed as defence employs large numbers and has an effect throughout the economy. Also if our hands were not tied there are lucrative export defence contracts even though some customers might not comply with our codes of conduct - if we don't supply France, China or Russia will so who is the looser?
The way successive British governments have treated defence - the primary role of any government - we had better start buying white flags and fast.
Political power grows out the barrel of a gun. They are still way behind America though.
378,415 miles of roads constructed, and the main eastern route between England and Scotland isn't even a dual carriageway.
If Scotland goes solo, a dual carriageway would be extravagant.
18m government subsidised houses built. Everest windows missed out on a contract there!!
Good Government stays in office by the will of the people .A corrupt Government looks after it`s army. China now is a rampant Capitalist dictatorship the Government run by hugely rich members looking after them selves (much like ours.).When the Chinese people rise up (SOON) the well paid army will turn on them.(much like ours has.)
Was it not chairman Mao that said, Change will come through the barrel of a gun!
Beware, the dragon is awakening.
The dragon woke up some time ago & is now breathing fire. Be afraid, be very afraid!
Are you listening Mr. Hague?