China has no desire to overturn the existing international order and its increasingly powerful military does not constitute a threat to others, Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and National People’s Congress (NPC) spokesman Zhang Yesui (張業遂) said yesterday.
In a break with recent practice, Zhang refused to provide a figure for the rate of growth in the national defense budget.
However, he sought to strike a reassuring tone in remarks at a news conference on the eve of the congress’ annual session.
He said China defended and contributed to the UN-centered global order, but also said some reforms were necessary.
“China’s development is conducive to world peace, stability and prosperity,” he said, pointing to global economic growth, trade and poverty reduction.
“As to the international order, we have no intention of overthrowing everything for starting over again,” Zhang said.
Reforms should focus on “international rules that have fallen behind the times and no longer align with the shared aspirations of all nations,” he said.
China’s secretive military had begun to open up a crack in recent years, and the NPC spokesman has made a tradition of responding to a question on the defense budget by announcing the percentage increase over the past years, at least in rough terms.
Zhang did not address the question of numbers, saying instead that past increases by a “modest margin” had gone to equipment upgrades, training and improving welfare and living conditions for troops.
China’s defense spending as a share of GDP and the budget also remains lower than that of other major nations, he said.
“China proceeds from a defense policy that is defensive in nature. China’s development will not pose a threat to other countries,” Zhang said.
The Chinese Ministry of Finance last year said the defense budget would top 1 trillion yuan (US$145 billion) after the exact figure was initially kept out of documents released at the start of the annual legislative sessions.
However, China’s publicly announced defense spending has never been accurate since it omits a significant amount of “off-book” expenditures on defense equipment projects, said Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.
“What’s alarming is not the non-reporting of largely fictitious defense spending figures so much as the Chinese leadership is shedding even the pretense of being open about its military plans,’’ Jennings said in an e-mail.
Combined with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) plans to eliminate term limits on his rule and his consolidation of control over the military, the lack of public information about defense spending and military planning “pushes China toward a more authoritarian and militarized leadership,” Jennings said.
“These trends should be deeply concerning to the Asia-Pacific region and beyond,” he said.
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
TARGETED TEXTS: The center’s head said that visitor numbers at scenic spots were greater than expected and people did not do a very good job of social distancing The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday sent two warning text messages to urge people to practice social distancing, especially by avoiding crowded scenic areas. The two messages were sent at 11:55am on the third day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, reminding people about social distancing and hand hygiene to help prevent COVID-19 infection. “When visiting crowded scenic spots during the Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, please keep a social distance of at least 1.5m indoors and 1m outdoors, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Please wear a mask and seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling ill
The US National Security Council yesterday thanked Taiwan for its support amid the COVID-19 pandemic following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement that Taiwan would donate 10 million masks to hard-hit countries. The donation includes 2 million masks to the US on top of the weekly 100,000 announced previously; 7 million to Europe; and 1 million to diplomatic allies, on top of 1 million Taiwan procured for allies from their neighboring countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday. After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed appreciation for the donations, the US body yesterday wrote its thanks on Twitter. “We