IN BEIJING: China's defence spending this year will rise by 12.2 per cent, its highest since 2011, reflecting its growing security concerns amid territorial spats with neighbours like Japan.
Its new military expenditure of around 808 billion yuan (S$167 billion) was reported by the Xinhua news agency on Wednesday morning and is set to be officially released by the government after the National People's Congress (NPC) opens its national session at the Great Hall of the People.
China's defence spending rose 10.7 per cent in 2013, slower than the 11.2 per cent and 12.7 per cent spikes in 2012 and 2011.
Its defence expenditure increases exceeded that for domestic security for the first time in 2011 which rose 8.7 per cent in 2013. But total domestic security budget is expected still to outstrip that of defence, a trend that began since 2011.
Besides the territorial spat with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, China is also locked in maritime disputes with four Asean capitals and Taiwan in the South China Sea.
The need to protect China's expanding overseas interests amid the United States' rebalancing to Asia-Pacific are also reasons used by the Chinese military to justify its growing expenditure.