China will raise defense spending “about 7 percent” this year as it guards against “outside meddling” in its disputed regional territorial claims, a top official said yesterday, in an apparent reference to Washington.
Just days after US President Donald Trump outlined plans to raise US military spending by about 10 percent, Chinese National People’s Congress spokeswoman Fu Ying (傅瑩) told reporters that Chinese expenditures will depend on US actions in the region.
“We call for a peaceful settlement through dialogue and consultation [of the territorial disputes]. At the same time we need the ability to safeguard our sovereignty and interests and rights,” Fu told a news conference ahead of the rubber-stamp parliament session. “In particular, we need to guard against outside meddling in the disputes.”
The annual news briefing comes a day ahead of today’s opening of the congress.
Fu did not specify what “meddling” she was referring to, but Beijing’s increasingly assertive stance towards its claims in the South and East China seas have stirred alarm in the region and prompted criticism from Washington.
The planned spending increase is in line with last year, when the government said last year’s outlays would increase by 6.5 to 7 percent.
Last year’s figure marked the first time in six years that spending growth did not rise into double figures.
China is engaged in a decades-long build-up and modernization of its once-backward armed forces as it seeks military clout commensurate with its economic might.
However, its military capabilities remain modest compared with the US, Fu said, adding that concerns about the country’s military buildup are unwarranted.
“China has never caused harm to anyone, to any country,” she said.
However, recent reports that Beijing might be militarizing artificial islands in the South China Sea have raised concerns in Washington, which has long argued China’s activities in the region threaten freedom of navigation through the strategically vital waterways, sending ships and aircraft to pass close to the growing islands.
Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have contested Beijing’s claims.
Recent satellite imagery indicates China is completing structures intended to house surface-to-air missiles on a series of such artificial landmasses, the Washington think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said last week.
Future trends in the region “will depend on US intentions vis-a-vis the region and US activities [which] to a certain extent set the barometer for the situation here,” Fu said. “Probably fundamentally the US is concerned that China may catch up with it in terms of capability, but we are a developing country. There is a huge gap between China and the US in capability.”
Chinese state media recently said that China was testing the latest version of its fifth-generation stealth fighter, part of a campaign to end the West’s monopoly on the world’s most advanced warplanes.
China also for the first time sent its sole aircraft carrier into the Pacific Ocean for exercise in December last year, according to Chinese reports.
Barthelemy Courmont, a senior Research Fellow at the Paris-based French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs said it was understandable that a modernizing China would seek more advanced armed forces.
However, “this development also reflects Beijing’s ambition to impose its supremacy over Asia by giving itself the means of being a credible power,” he said.
He said that the territorial tensions were leading to a “senseless arms race” in the region. “It’s often in reaction to China’s spending increases that neighboring countries also decide to strengthen their military capacities,” he said.
SAFETY RISK: The government is working to categorize countries based on their COVID-19 cases and prevention efforts, which would determine quarantine periods The government plans to rank countries based on their COVID-19 risks to determine how to treat tourists and other travelers from those nations once Taiwan reopens its borders, but it is still working out the categories, a top health official told lawmakers yesterday. “We would divide countries around the world into several categories. One category would comprise those countries with very few confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as New Zealand and Palau. Travelers from the countries in this category would only need to practice self-health management,” Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told a Legislative Yuan seminar hosted by
China would attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, Chinese General Li Zuocheng (李作成) said yesterday. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, Li, who is chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law is China’s legislative basis for military action against Taiwan. “If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
RELATIONSHIP ‘TERMINATED’: US Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the president’s action was ‘an act of extraordinary senselessness,’ a tone Chinese media echoed US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that Washington would withdraw funding from the WHO, end Hong Kong’s special trade status and suspend visas of Chinese graduate students suspected of conducting research on behalf of their government. Trump said in a White House announcement that Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the organization to mislead the public about the outbreak. “We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be