London: China is now the second biggest defence spender after the United States boosting expenditure by 10 per cent, to an estimated $83.9 billion in 2008. The year also saw global defence expenditure soar to record levels with wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and counter- terror measures around the globe contributing significantly to the total.
China's increased defence expenditure is mainly on account of new programmes which include construction of a new range of nuclear submarines, stealth warships as well as a new generation of fighter planes and weaponry that will be part of network centric warfare, according to the prestigious Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) a leading Swedish peace research group.
The communist nation's defence spending amounted to almost six per cent of the world's arms trade, which placed it ahead of countries like France and Britain. According to SIPRI, world defence expenditure totalled $1,464 billion last year, which is a serious 45% escalation from a decade ago.
The research institute also said that defence spending across most of Asia including India, South Korea and Taiwan accounted for most of the increase.
It also pointed out that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had cost the American taxpayer an extra $930 billion.