US focus on Asia inflating China defence budget?

The US govt`s renewed Asia-Pacific focus is helping fuel China`s expansion of defence budget, says Sarah McDowall.

Updated: Feb 14, 2012, 18:25 PM IST

Singapore: China`s defence budget will double between 2011 and 2015 and outstrip the combined spending of all other key defence markets in the Asia-Pacific
region, global research group IHS said Tuesday.

The US government`s "renewed Asia-Pacific focus" is
helping fuel China`s expansion of its defence budget,
according to IHS Global Insight`s Asia-Pacific head Sarah

China`s defence budget stood at USD 119.8 billion last year and will rise to USD 238.2 billion in 2015, marking a combined annual growth rate of 18.75 per cent during the
period, the US-based IHS said in a forecast.

The 2015 figure exceeds the combined total of the next
12 biggest defence budgets in the region, forecast to hit USD
232.5 billion, and will be almost four times second-placer
Japan`s defence spending that year, it added.

"Beijing has been able to devote an increasingly large
portion of its overall budget towards defence and has been
steadily building up its military capabilities for more than
two decades," said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist
for IHS Global Insight.

"This will continue unless there is an economic

The growth in China`s defence budget -- which averaged
12 percent annually from 2000-2009 -- will benefit from the
projected surge in the gross domestic product of Asia`s
largest economy in the next three years.

China will use the additional cash to modernise its
equipment while reducing its manpower, resulting in a higher
amount of funding per member of its armed forces, IHS said in
its report.

Aside from China and Japan, the report also tracks the
military spending of India, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan,
Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam
and New Zealand.