World defense spending rises 4% in 2019: report

A Chinese soldier salutes in front of a drone during a parade to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on October 1, 2019. (Getty/Kyodo)

LONDON (Kyodo) — Global defense spending rose 4 percent in 2019 from a year earlier to $1.73 trillion, the biggest increase in a decade, a British think-tank said in an annual report released Friday.

A 6.6 percent expansion each by the United States and China made a significant contribution to the rise, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said in its report, The Military Balance 2020.

In Asia, defense spending has climbed 1.5 times in 10 years, buoyed by fast growth in the region’s economy. China’s neighbors have grown concerned about Beijing’s rapid military buildup amid its assertive claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

The United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and India retained their positions as the world’s top defense spenders, with the U.S. splurging $684.6 billion — nearly four times China’s total and 14 times more than Japan.

Foreign military experts suspect, however, that China’s military spending is much larger than its official defense figures.

The budget increase in the United States was the largest in 10 years, with spending rising since President Donald Trump took office in 2017.

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