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China Military Spending to Surge 11.2% in 2012

China now world's No. 2 military, but insists spending only moderate
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2012 6:24 AM CST
China Military Spending to Surge 11.2% in 2012
In this April 23, 2009 file photo, a Chinese Navy nuclear-powered submarine sails during an international fleet review in the waters off Qingdao, China.   (AP Photo/Guang Niu, Pool, File)

(Newser) – China will up its defense spending by 11.2% in 2012 to $106.4 billion, citing its unhappiness with the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, reports the AP. China has made double-digit increases to its military spending in all but two of the years since the early 1990s, although this year's increase is down slightly from the 12.7% rise in 2011. Despite the seemingly dramatic rise, China's economy has also grown quickly over the past two decades, and military spending as a percentage of GDP has stayed relatively low, officially 1.3% last year.

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“Our defense spending is relatively low compared with other major countries,” says one Chinese official. However, security experts think China's true spending is likely much higher (the CIA estimated 4.3% of its GDP in 2006). With maritime disputes with Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines and rough relations with India, China faces an array of security threats. “China lives in a neighborhood where it doesn’t have any natural allies or friends," a former Australian ambassador to China tells Bloomberg. “China’s got a lot of things that require a state to have military hardware for." (Read more China stories.)

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