During the annual National People's Congress parliamentary meeting, China's government officially announced a 12.2 percent increase in its 2014 military budget from the previous year, bringing it up to $131.6 billion.
China has been gradually increasing arms expenditures for several years, reflecting how serious it considers the various territorial disputes it is embroiled in with various Asian neighbors. Last year, China’s defense budget was more than double Japan’s. The two countries are engaged in an ongoing tug-of-war over a cluster of resource-rich tiny islands in the East China Sea.
During his opening speech of the parliamentary meetings, Premier Li Keqiang vowed that China would “carry out coordinated planning for military preparedness in all scenarios and areas.” Li also made it clear that the new budget means ramping up China's presence on land, in the air, and on the seas. “We will strengthen national defense mobilization and the reserve forces, place war preparations on a regular footing, and enhance border, coastal, and air defenses,” he also said.
Other countries in the region, like South Korea and the Philippines, also engaged in territorial disputes with China, have even smaller budget than Japan's, and, like Japan, rely on alliances with the U.S. Where do the defense budgets of China’s various neighbors stand in comparison with the region's biggest power?
Here's a map of several Asian countries color-coded by how large their 2013 defense budgets were. Click on any country for more information:
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