But as CRI’s Ding Heng reports, there is no reason for the international community to be concerned about a military threat from the world’s second largest economy.
China’s yearly defense budget hit the 100-billion-yuan mark in 1999.
An expected spending of more than 1 trillion yuan this year means the number have grown 10 fold in some 18 years.
This same period has also been a witness to a rapid development of the Chinese economy, with double-digit growth, or growth close to that level, taking place most of that time.
Chen Zhou is a researcher with the PLA-affiliated Academy of Military Sciences and a delegate to the National People’s Congress.
“China’s defense budget increase is reasonable, responsible, stable, and sustainable. It has been in coordination with the country’s need to build up defense. It is also consistent with the development of our economy.”
Military spending was kept below 1.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in each of the past 15 years, lower than the world average of 2.4 percent.
During the Munich Security Conference held in Germany last month, a senior official from China’s top legislature said China had no plan to increase the ratio.
At present, China is carrying out a massive military reform plan, initiated by President Xi Jinping, who announced a cut of 300-thousand military personnel in September, 2015.
Part of the plan was the establishment of a rocket force and a strategic support force in addition to the army, the navy, and the air force more than a year ago.
The move was aimed at strengthening China’s intelligence and defense against nuclear weapons.
Chen Zhou suggests part of defense budget will be used to push ahead with the reforms.
“There has definitely been a change in terms of the mission for the military. We need to streamline the army, get rid of the equipment, while at the same time, strengthen the air force, the navy, the rocket force, and the strategic support force. The reforms also cover the personnel matters, namely the 300-thousand cut. Many cadres will get out of the military system, which requires measures to reform the policies within the military.”
China’s defense budget is made public every year.
The official figures, however, are being doubted, with a recent article from the British military magazine, Jane’s Defence Weekly, claiming that China’s actual military spending last year was 45.7 billion US dollars higher than the official number.
Chen Zhou says these doubts are nonsense.
“The defense budget is part of China’s national budget. It needs to be reviewed and approved by the top legislature. This process is totally transparent and legal. Plus, since 2007, China has been involved in a United Nations program calling for greater transparency in military spending. Each year, China submits a report to the UN.”
China’s expected announcement of its 2017 defense budget will come less than a week after the White House under Donald Trump proposed a 54-billion-US-dolar, or 10-percent, increase in defense spending.
The spending of China is currently a quarter of that of the US.
For CRI, this is Ding Heng. – CRI
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily