Wed, Mar 07, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Military budget hike low: China

‘PROPORTIONATE’:State media said the nation’s per capita military spending lags behind other nations’, and if it wanted to expand, it should rise 20 to 30 percent

Reuters, BEIJING

China’s increase in military spending for this year, the biggest rise in three years, was proportionate and low, and Beijing had not been goaded into an arms race with the US, state media said yesterday.

China on Monday unveiled an 8.1 percent rise in defense spending, fueling an ambitious military modernization program and making its neighbors, particularly Taiwan and Japan, nervous.

In an editorial, the official China Daily said the figure had prompted “finger-pointing from the usual suspects.”

“China’s defense budget is neither the largest in size — it accounts for just one-fourth of the military spending of the United States — nor does it have the fastest growth rate,” the English-language newspaper said. “And if calculated in per capita terms, China’s military lags well behind other major countries.”

The defense spending figure is closely watched worldwide for clues to China’s strategic intentions as it develops new military capabilities, including stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles.

China says its military spending is transparent and that it poses a threat to nobody, simply needing to update old equipment and defend its legitimate interests.

In the East and South China Seas, China is simply trying to stand up for itself, the China Daily said.

“The country has seen its maritime interests being increasingly infringed upon in recent years, and thus seeking a stronger military is natural for it to safeguard its interests and counter any threat that may materialize from the aggressive posturing of others upset by its rise,” it added.

China has seen the US as its biggest potential security threat, alarming Beijing with freedom-of-navigation patrols in the South China Sea.

Official Chinese defense spending is about one-quarter that of the US, although many foreign analysts and diplomats say China under-reports the figure.

The widely read Chinese tabloid the Global Times said if China really wanted to expand militarily, the defense budget should really be rising 20 to 30 percent.

“China has obviously not fallen into the mindset of engaging in an arms race with the US. Otherwise it could totally realize double-digit increases in its defense expenditure,” the paper said in its editorial.

US provocations in the South China Sea, tension in the Taiwan Strait and the US, Japan, Australia and India forming alliances demand a rise in spending, it said.

“But Beijing has stuck to its own template and was not disturbed by external factors,” it added.

Still, China has made no secret of its broader military ambitions, with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習進平) promising last year to make China’s armed forces world-class by the middle of the century.

Chinese Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Xu Qiliang (許其亮) told military delegates that China needed to “fully strengthen troop training and war preparedness and raise the ability to win,” Xinhua said late on Monday.

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