Japan yesterday expressed concern over what it called a lack of transparency in China’s massive defense spending, saying the secrecy posed a “threat” to Tokyo.
China’s military budget jumped 11.2 percent year on year to US$106 billion this year, a rise that has caused unease around the region and especially in Tokyo, Japanese Senior Vice Defense Minister Shu Watanabe said.
“There is expansion of the military budget and that is not transparent,” he told defense chiefs and senior officials attending the Shangri-la Dialogue, an Asia security summit, in Singapore.
Because of the lack of transparency, Japan is in the dark about China’s military spending, he said.
“Chinese military budget growth, what sort of capacities they are trying to expand and what sort of purposes they have are not transparent and in that sense, it is a threat,” Watanabe added.
He said the unease generated by the issue contrasted with the generally positive economic and cultural relations Tokyo has with Beijing.
“On the military front there are some concerns. I think all countries are the same on that front,” he said.
China’s growing military presence and assertive stance, especially in the South China Sea, where it has overlapping territorial claims with other Asian nations, including Taiwan, have rattled nerves in the region as well as in Washington.
US Senator John McCain said in a press conference that China should be more open about its defense spending.
“What I would like to see is much more transparency on the part of the Chinese government as to how much money is being spent, what it’s being spent on and what their overall strategy should be,” he said.
“I don’t view that China’s military buildup is necessarily directed at the US but I do worry when we don’t know exactly how much money is spent, what it’s on and we would also like to hear what their doctrine will be,” McCain added.
Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said New Delhi was also concerned about China’s spending.
“Even though we don’t believe in an arms race, since China has increased its military capabilities and spending more on defense, in our own way, to protect our national interest, we are also strengthening our capabilities in our borders,” he said.