Sun, Aug 06, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Defense budget aims for 2.85% next year: MND

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

The nation's defense budget will be increased to account for 2.85 percent of GDP next year, up from this year's 2.45 percent, a Ministry of National Defense (MND) official said yesterday.

According to the national security report issued in May, the government plans to boost military spending further to 3 percent of the nation's GDP in 2008 in the face of rising tensions with China.

"We shall show our determination to defend our country," Abe Lin (林勤經), director of the ministry's Department of Strategic Planning, said yesterday.

Lin said the ministry wanted to assure the public that the money would be used for weapons and equipment procurement and not for personnel affairs.

"The result of the latest questionnaire by the MND showed that 67 percent of the public would support our long-pending military weapons procurement proposal," Lin said. "Although the legislature has yet to help us on this issue, we will not sit still and do nothing. We will try other means."

Lin also stressed that the military had no plans for expanding, but would continue downsizing its personnel as it had done in the past few years.

Explaining why the military needed to increase its annual budget, Lin said that the Chinese army's stated annual budget was US$30 billion for this year. However, the ministry estimated that the real budget for the Chinese army this year would be US$90 billion.

"[The Chinese army] is still our enemy. It is impossible for us to defend ourselves while our enemy keeps growing," Lin said.

According to a statement posted on the Presidential Office's Web site, the budget proposed by the Cabinet for next year aims to accommodate a bigger budget for military spending.

The president "strongly supports the proposed [military] budget," the statement added.

The proposal still needs legislative approval.

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