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World

REUTERS
March 4, 2015
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China defence budget rise to defy slowing economy

China defence budget rise to defy slowing economy
BEIJING: China's defence budget this year will rise about 10 percent compared with 2014, a top government official said on Wednesday, outpacing the slowing economy as the country ramps up investment in high-tech equipment such as submarines and stealth jets.

Parliament spokeswoman Fu Ying told reporters the actual figure would be released on Thursday, when the annual session of the largely rubber-stamp National People's Congress opens.

Last year, defence spending was budgeted to rise 12.2 percent to $130 billion, second only to the United States.

The official Xinhua news agency said the 2015 target - which would put defence outlays at around $145 billion - would represent the slowest growth in military spending in five years.

China has logged a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit budget increases, though many experts think the country's real defence outlays are larger than stated.

The military build-up has jangled nerves around the region, particularly as China has taken an increasingly robust line on its territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.

Asked about China's defence spending, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan was concerned the figure "lacks transparency."

"It is true, regardless of China's defence spending, that the security situation in the region surrounding Japan is severe for various reasons," he added.

"On top of our own efforts in the field of diplomacy and defence, it is extremely important for our country to strengthen the US-Japan alliance."
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