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Major General downplays China's defense budget growth

2015-03-16 13:33 China.org.cn Web Editor: Li Yan

The 10 percent increase in China's annual defense budget has caused much concern internationally, but a major general has clarified that the increase is to back up the "peaceful strength" in preserving regional stability and world peace.

Major General Chen Zhou, who heads the Research Center for Defense Policies at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said that China's defense budget is growing at a "prudent and reasonable" rate, as the budget has been maintained at 1.3-1.5 percent of China's annual GDP for the past 15 years.

By contrast, according to him, the proportions in other major countries are higher than 2 percent, 4 percent in the United States and 4-5 percent in Russia.

It is the fifth consecutive year that China's defense budget has grown at a double-digit rate, an increase which was announced at a time when China tuned down the expectation for its overall economic growth to 7 percent. The contrast has made some countries, especially those in China's peripheral regions, worry that China's rise may have security implications for them.

But Chen said that in 2014, China's defense budget growth rate was 12.2 percent, while the GDP growth rate was 7.4 percent, putting that year's defense budget at 808.2 billion yuan (US$113.2 billion), "only 1.3 percent of that year's GDP." Chen, also the chief of the drafting team for China's defense white paper, added that a country's military budget should naturally be on a par with its economic growth.

The military budget in China mainly goes to six "rigid demands" - preserving sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, adapting to the strategic development of national security and the military, adapting to international military development, safeguarding the country's economic and social development, complying with the reforms of national defense and the armed forces, and taking on more international commitments.

In light of this, China's rising defense budget has been consistent with the volatile security situation, such as surging terrorism and separatism, and China's rising responsibility in preserving world peace.

The PLA Navy's escort mission in the Gulf of Aden, the transportation of Iran's chemical weapons, international humanitarian aid as well as involvement in UN peacekeeping missions are among the non-combat missions that the Chinese military has undertaken in recent years. Such contributions to regional stability and world peace require a necessary budget to sustain them, said the major general.

Major General Chen disagreed with the allegation that China's rising military budget would trigger a regional arms race, because even if there is military competition, it is for military technology. He said all countries have the right to develop their military according to their own demands and the budget is for the maintenance of a peaceful force.

The military expert also called for enhancing mutual trust between China and other countries. He added that enhancing China's military transparency would also help in achieving this objective.

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