BEIJING — China announced Wednesday that it was increasing its military budget for 2014 to almost $132 billion, a 12.2 percent rise over last year. The rapid growth in spending is another sign of the country’s goal of becoming a dominant military presence in the Pacific, with a navy able to project power across the region.
The rate of growth in spending is greater than that of recent years. In 2013, China’s defense budget increased by 10.7 percent over the previous year. The country’s military spending is the second largest in the world, behind that of the United States.
The buildup of the People’s Liberation Army, which also includes navy and air force branches, is considered by many analysts to be consistent with the size of China’s economy — the second largest in the world — and its global political influence. Nevertheless, the military expansion is being closely watched by other nations in the region and by the United States, the supreme military power in the Pacific.
Foreign military analysts say China’s actual annual military spending is higher than the official figure. IHS Jane’s, a defense-industry consulting and analysis company, estimated that China would spend $148 billion this year; such estimates can vary widely. But the unofficial estimate is still much less than the military budget of the United States, which is officially $526.8 billion for the 2014 fiscal year.
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Dennis J. Blasko, a former military attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and a retired Army officer, said the 2014 budget “won’t break the bank, but it says to the troops: ‘Thank you for your service. You are important to us. We support you.’”
A major portion of the increase will go to “better, more realistic training,” Blasko added.
China announced the 2014 military budget on the first day of the National People’s Congress, an annual meeting of a legislature whose purpose is the formal approval of policy already made by Communist Party leaders.