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China leads rise in Asia military spending: study

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WASHINGTON (AFP): Military spending by Asia's major powers, including India, increased dramatically over the past decade with China leading the way, as its defence budget quadrupled since 2000, according to a study released today.

Defence spending in China and four other Asian countries doubled over 10 years and will surpass Europe's military expenditures this year, said the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

Asia's arms race still leaves it trailing US defence spending, but it will ensure the United States likely will stick to its plan to shift the country's strategic focus towards the Asia-Pacific region, it said.

Defence spending in China, India, South Korea and Taiwan reached a total of USD 224 billion in 2011, which "equates to almost twice the amount spent by these five countries in 2000," said the CSIS study.

"With Asian defence spending projected to overtake that of Europe by the end of 2012, the United States' posture rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region is likely to continue," it said.

In 2005, China's military budget outstripped Japan's as the largest in Asia and recorded a 13.4 per cent annual rise that year.

Among all countries, China now ranks second behind the United States in total military spending, though the Pentagon budget still dwarfs Beijing's defence spending at more than USD 600 billion a year.

Experts say China's emergence as a global economic giant has driven the spike in military spending, as Beijing seeks to assert its influence beyond its borders to safeguard its access to sea lanes and resources.

In 2011, Beijing spent USD 25.8 billion on new weapons and related research and development, up from USD 7.3 billion in 2000, the report said.

China's total defence budget grew from USD 22.5 billion to USD 89.9 billion between 2000 and 2011, said the report, citing official figures from the Beijing government.

But the study acknowledged that independent estimates put Chinese spending at a much higher level, with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimating Beijing's 2011 defence budget at USD 142.2 billion.

India's defence spending grew 47.6 per cent over the decade, reaching USD 37 billion in 2011. Japan's military budget rose from USD 40 to USD 58.2 billion.

South Korea's defence investments swelled from USD 17 to USD 29 billion, while Taiwan's defence budget expanded at a slower pace, from USD 8 billion in 2000 to USD 10 billion in 2011.

Apart from Japan, which spent USD 2,38,000 per soldier in 2011, the four other countries devoted USD 28,000 to USD 44,000 to training, paying and equipping each of its soldiers, the study said.

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China  Arms  Asia  
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