|Mar. 4, 2012: Li Zhaoxing, spokesperson of the National People's Congress attends a press conference held on the eve of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. AP Photo|
March 4, 2012
BEIJING – China's defense spending will see a double-digit increase again in 2012, as strong economic growth continues to fuel rapid military expansion, the country's legislature spokesman said Sunday.
Li Zhaoxing said defense spending would increase by 11.2 percent over actual spending last year to hit 670.2 billion yuan ($106.4 billion) in 2012, an increase of about 67 billion yuan.
China's official defense spending is the largest in the world after the United States, but actual spending, according to foreign defense experts, may be 50 percent higher, as China excludes outlays for its nuclear missile force and other programs.
Li, speaking at a news conference a day before the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress, said China's military spending was small as a percentage of gross domestic product compared to other countries, especially the United States.
"China is committed to the path of peaceful development and follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature," Li said. "You see, China has 1.3 billion people, a large territory and long coastline, but our defense spending is relatively low compared with other major countries."
Last year's military spending amounted to 1.28 percent of China's economy, Li said. By contrast, the ratio stood at 4.8 percent for the U.S. in 2010, according to the World Bank.