The New York Times reports that China’s official military budget will rise by just 7.5 percent in 2010, a rate that is about half the official increase in recent years and the first to fall below 10 percent since 1989. The announcement, by a spokesman for the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, gave no explanation for the slowdown. Some analysts speculate that China’s huge economic stimulus program and other efforts to address unemployment and welfare had eaten into monies that in a normal year would go toward defense. It is also possible that China reduced the growth of its publicly acknowledged defense spending to help allay international concerns about its rising power. American military spending amounts to about 4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — compared with about 1.4 percent for China — and, accounted for 48 percent of the entire world’s military spending in 2008.

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