China greatly expands the military budget

China announced Sunday, March 4 an increase of over 11% of its military budget in 2012 to 670.27 billion yuan. This double-digit increase, exceeding the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) of China (+9.2% in 2011), confirms that Beijing is doubling military power to catch up with the United States. “China’s military expenditure accounted for only 1.28% of GDP in 2011, whereas the figure for the U.S., the UK and other countries, exceeds 2%,” said a former minister of Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The rise of official defense budget in China has exceeded 10% per year on average over the last twenty years. But official figures are underestimated compared to actual military spending, according to experts. “The actual budget is about double,” ensures Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

China says that its military technology is twenty to thirty years behind the U.S.. The sole objective of army’s modernization is to defense the country. But Beijing acquires more and more weapons of power projection, which contradicts that position. China conducted several major military programs. It develops a stealth fighter and has started building its first aircraft carrier.

The European Union maintains an embargo on arms deliveries to China. For its part, The United States is increasingly concerned the military power of Beijing. In November, President Barack Obama announced that his country would strengthen its military presence in Asia-Pacific, particularly Australia. Washington also plans to station warships in Singapore and strengthen its workforce in the Philippines and Thailand.