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China's defense budget growth slows

By Wu Jiao in Beijing, Zhang Yuwei in New York and Zhang Chunyan  (China Daily)

08:17, March 06, 2013

Military spending to mainly cover better living and working conditions

Despite mounting pressure on its peripheral security situation, China's defense budget growth will slow in 2013 for the second consecutive year.

Experts said China is likely to continue moderately raising its defense spending in line with its economic growth, but it still lags behind major world powers in terms of per capita military spending and military equipment and technology.

According to a budget report submitted to the National People's Congress for review on Tuesday, China plans to raise its central government defense budget by 10.7 percent to 720.2 billion yuan ($114.3 billion) in 2013.

Military spending will mainly cover improving the living and working conditions of service personnel, making the armed forces more mechanized and high-tech, said the report on draft central and local budgets for 2013.

This represents a drop in the annual growth rate for two years in a row. The increase was 12.7 percent in 2011 and 11.2 percent in 2012.

Samuel Perlo-Freeman, director of the Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said the 10.7 percent increase announced on Tuesday "maintains what seems to be a long-standing policy of continuing to increase military spending on average at the same rate as economic growth".

According to Samuel, the IMF currently projects inflation in China in 2013 to be about 3 percent, so this will make the real increase close to the target economic growth rate of 7.5 percent. As a result, Chinese military spending in 2013 will likely remain stable as a share of GDP.

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