China today increased its defence budget by 7.6 per cent to USD 146 billion for this year, citing militarisation of the Asia-Pacific, especially the disputed South China Sea, and deepening tensions with the US. The increase is the lowest in defence spending in six years in the wake of economic slowdown. China’s GDP growth last year declined to the lowest in 26 years to 6.9 per cent.
Defending the increase in defence budget, National People’s Congress (NPC) spokesperson Fu Ying blamed US for the militarisation of the Asia-Pacific, especially the South China Sea (SCS), which in recent months has become new theatre of conflict between the two countries.
Some people have connected China with SCS issue and militarisation of the region. The issue of militarisation has been hyped up and misleading, she said. China claims almost the whole of the resource-rich South China Sea (SCS). Its claim, however, is strongly contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.