As if the world doesn’t have enough problems, China now wants to increase military spending by 15 percent this year.
From the Telegraph.co.uk:
China is to increase official military spending by almost 15 per cent this year as it seeks to upgrade its smart technology and improve the living standards of its soldiers.
The 14.9 per cent rise to 480.7 billion yuan (£50 billion), up 62.5 billion yuan from 2008, was announced in advance of the annual meeting of the rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress.
But after rises of 17.8 per cent in 2007 and 17.6 per cent in 2008, it still amounts to a rise of more than half since 2006.
In addition, the United States claims that real spending is significantly higher, as many costs, including major arms purchases, are kept off the officially announced budget.
This claim was rejected by Li Zhaoxing, a former foreign minister acting as spokesman for the Congress.
He said that China had signed up to the United Nations code for reporting military expenditure in 2007.
“There is no such thing as the so-called hidden military expenditure in China,” he said.
He said that this year military spending would be 6.3 per cent of the total budget, and 1.4 per cent of GDP, compared to four per cent in the United States and two per cent in Britain and France.
China is known to be upgrading its nuclear arsenal and has all but confirmed plans to build its first aircraft carrier, but it is unclear whether these heavy cost loads are included in the budget.
Mr Li said a major part of the expenditure was to improve the historically poor living standards of foot-soldiers in the People’s Liberation Army. But he said money would also be spent on “informatisation” – the country has become fiercely aware in the last two decades of how far behind the United States it has fallen in “smart” technology.
This, as the Obama administration requests a 10% decrease, or about $55 billion, in Defense spending for the fiscal year 2010, a senior U.S. defense official tells FOX News.
And Rep. Barney Fwank has boasted in the recent past he would like to see the Defense budget slashed by 25%, or by $160 billion.
As the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies?