Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Despite the economic crisis, military spending by Asia's major powers increased dramatically over the past decade with China leading the way with US$ 89.9 billion last year, probably twice as much according to many experts as Beijing treats that information as a state secret.
According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, defence spending in China, India, South Korea and Taiwan reached a total of US$ 224 billion last year, which "equates to almost twice the amount spent by these five countries in 2000".
Alone, China's defence budget went up four folds since 2000, increasing at almost 14 per cent a year. Some estimate that last year defence budget reached US$ 142.2 billion.
Experts say China's emergence as a global economic giant has driven the spike in military spending, as Beijing seeks to assert its influence beyond its borders to safeguard its access to sea lanes and resources.
India is also in the same race. Its defence spending grew 47.6 per cent over the decade, reaching US$ 37 billion last year.
Likewise, South Korea's defence investments swelled from US billion to US billion, whilst Taiwan's defence budget expanded at a slower pace, from US$ 8 billion in 2000 to US$ 10 billion last year.