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Defense budget hike driven by global tensions

2014-03-06 09:43 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan
Military spending compared

Military spending compared

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday announced a 12.2 percent increase to China's military budget for 2014 to 808.2 billion yuan ($132 billion).

Observers said that the growth is spurred by increasing global tensions and is consistent with China's growing economy.

At the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC), Li urged the military to increase its preparations for military action in all aspects.

The increased expenditure will be used to add more high-tech military equipment, improve soldiers' living conditions, adjust expenses for army maintenance and enhance its capability in anti-terrorism and disaster relief, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Defense expenditure will normally increase before it lessens. China's defense expenditure is now climbing partly due to current tensions in the international community and the development of high-tech weapons, which demand more investment," said Shan Xiufa, a research fellow at the Academy of Military Sciences of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

In 2013, defense expenditure accounted for 1.4 percent of China's GDP, less than many other countries such as Russia or France.

"Current defense expenditure can only support the basic running of the military and the purchase of weapons and there is still a lot of upside potential for the military to be stronger," Song Zhongping, a military affairs commentator in Beijing, told the Global Times.

China's foreign ministry said Wednesday that it is reasonable for a country of China's size to moderately increase military expenditure in the face of a complicated international situation. The growth is in line with the country's economic condition.

"The Chinese People's Liberation Army are not Boy Scouts with spears. Some foreigners always expect China to be a Cub Scout. In that way, how can we safeguard national security and world peace? How can we ensure stability in the country, region and the world?" said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga claimed on Wednesday that China's lack of clarity in defense spending is a source of concern for the international community and for Japan, shortly after the announcement of China's defense budget increase.

"At a time when China faces tensions such as in the East China Sea or the Diaoyu Islands, we need to have advanced combat capabilities. The possibility of military action can't be ruled out if some countries start provocations," Song said.

He noted that China having a strong defense capability is an important factor to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, as China can check other countries that have a history of aggression like Japan. The military is just protecting China's economic development and signaling neighboring countries not to challenge China's core interests and national security.

Disputes have been stirred between China and neighboring countries who have overlapping maritime claims in the East and South China seas over the past year, marked by controversies after China established its East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone in November, 2013.

2014 Two Sessions

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