China’s Defense Budget Prepares for Double-Digit Growth
Reuters reports that China is likely to announce yet another year of double-digit growth in its defense budget in the next week, with expectations hovering in the 10-12% range. Officially, defense spending grew about 11 percent last year over 2003, hitting CNY 211.7 billion ($25.6 billion). Still, many experts believe that China’s real defense expenditures are two to four times higher than official figures, as items like arms procurement and military R&D are often placed in other budgets.
The only thing the experts seem to agree on is the inability to derive a solid spending figure, but growth rates are impressive. Signs of recent modernization include purchases from Russia of SU-30 fighter jets, Kilo-class submarines, and destroyers. China has also produced as many as 700 short-range missiles, most of which are believed to be aimed at Taiwan. In related developments, both Japan and Taiwan are undertaking reviews of their future defense plans. Japan and the United States are also opposing European Union plans to lift a 16-year-old arms embargo on China. Defense News: China To Boost Military spending as it Eyes Taiwan.