EDIT CONTAINS 4:3 MATERIAL The Chinese government gave foreign journalists a rare tour of a military base in Beijing. Officers showed off the airforce's new elite multi-purpose Z-9 helicopter. International concerns have grown recently over China's increasing military muscle-- especially in the South China Sea -- where China has asserted its sovereignty claims over a group of islands that Vietnam, the Philippines and China all claim as their own. Chinese officials have raised the stakes by declaring of one islands a Chinese city. Over the weekend, officials announced they would begin stationing troops on the island, and formally christened it during a ceremony. But back in Beijing, when asked if those troops deployed to the island city would have Z-9 helicopters, officials remained vague. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) UNNAMED AIRFORCE CAPTAIN SAYING: "I think if we need to be deployed, we should be able to deploy ourselves at a moment's notice. As for other (concerns), it is not convenient for me to answer your questions for now." China is boosting military spending by 11.2 percent this year with a near-unbroken string of double-digit rises in military spending each year for the past two decades. Even still, foreign experts widely believe China's official military budget underestimates its actual spending. Julie Noce, Reuters
July 24 - Foreign media invited to review some of China's military. Julie Noce reports. ( Transcript )
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