BEIJING - China will boost military spending by 11.2 percent this year, the government said on Sunday, unveiling Beijing’s first defence budget since President Barack Obama launched a policy “pivot” to reinforce US influence across the Asia-Pacific.

The increase announced by parliament spokesman Li Zhaoxing will bring official outlays on the People’s Liberation Army to 670.3 billion yuan (($106.41 billion) for 2012, after a 12.7 percent increase last year and a near-unbroken string of double-digit rises across two decades. Beijing’s public budget is widely thought by foreign experts to undercount its real spending on military modernisation.

Li said the world has nothing to fear, and the money spent on the PLA paled in comparison with the Pentagon’s outlays.

“You can see that we have 1.3 billion people with a large land areas and a long coastline, but our outlays on defence are quite low compared to other major countries,” Li told a news conference before the annual full session of the National People’s Congress, the Communist Party-controlled legislature that will approve the budget.

“China’s limited military power is for the sake of preserving national sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity,” said Li, a former foreign minister. “Fundamentally, it constitutes no threat to other countries.”

Asian neighbours, however, have been nervous about Beijing’s expanding military, and this latest double-digit rise could reinforce disquiet in Japan, India, Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

Obama has sought to reassure Asian allies that the United States will stay a key player in the area, and the Pentagon has said it will “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region”.

Obama’s proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2013 calls for a Pentagon base budget of $525.4 billion, about $5.1 billion less than approved for 2012.

Beijing has sought to balance long-standing wariness about US intentions with steady relations with Washington, especially as both governments focus on domestic politics this year, when Obama faces a re-election fight and China’s ruling Communist Party undergoes a leadership handover.

But the US “pivot” has fanned unease in China, with some PLA officers calling it an effort to fence in their country and frustrate Beijing’s territorial claims.

China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011 and its launch of a fledgling aircraft carrier in August - both trials of technologies that remain years from deployment. Beijing is also building new submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles as part of its naval modernisation.