China's rising military budget not a threat

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 5, 2012
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The Fifth Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) holds a press conference Sunday in the Great Hall of the People on the schedule of the session and issues related to the work of the NPC ahead of the session's opening on March 5. Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the Fifth Session of the 11th NPC, answers questions from journalists during the press conference. []

Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the Fifth Session of the 11th NPC, answers questions from journalists during the press conference. [Chen Boyuan /]

China's draft defence budget will be 670.2 billion yuan (US$106 billion) in 2012, up 67.6 billion yuan, representing an 11.2 percent year-on-year increase, said Li Zhaoxing, spokesperson for China's National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature. The draft will require the delegates' deliberation at the Congress before it becomes official.

Li said on Sunday at the NPC press conference that China will stick to peaceful development and its military presence "completely" does not pose a threat to any foreign countries. He also noted that China's military expenditures in 2011 only represented 1.28 percent of the country's GDP, whereas in both the United States and Britain, the figure was higher than 2 percent.

The "reasonable and appropriate" defence budget, as regarded by Li, China's ex-foreign minister, means to defend China's sovereign and territorial integrity.

He noted that Chinese military spending budget has been a very sensitive topic in every year's NPC sessions, and foreign journalists have been "particularly interested in it."

China's naval anti-piracy escort missions in the Gulf of Aden as well as China's plan to put the retired Russian aircraft carrier Varyag to service have both been widely regarded as demonstrations of China's military build-up, which may have stirred the nerves of other countries, especially those in China's neighboring area.

"Some people in Korea may think that Chinese military expansion could be a threat to us," said Daisy Hwang, a Hong Kong based Korean national. She said Korean citizens are still affected by the Korean War, in which China's People's Volunteer Army helped the North.

China probably would not pose any direct threat to South Korea, according to Hwang but "China's close ties with North Korea" is a fact that most South Koreans fear.

But, many Japanese are unconcerned about China's increasing military budget, according to Ninomiya Asami, a Japanese national in Shikoku. They care more about their own government's budget and how to make money from China.

Meanwhile, people who don't live in countries nearby are more indifferent about what's referred to as the Chinese military expansion.

"There are issues regarding China that we Britons and maybe other Europeans care more about, such as their human rights record and the death penalty" said John Sexton, an ex-Reuter reporter currently living in Yunnan Province in southwestern China.

He said the U.S. was excessively concerned about China's naval expansion only because the "U.S. now dominates the Pacific and does not want to be challenged." He said British citizens would only worry about a war in the Pacific for its potentially negative economic impact.

St. Lucia, in the West Indies, has shown understanding towards a rise in China's military spending. Earl Bousquet, president of St. Lucia-China Friendship Association (SLCFA), said a nation's defence can't "wait until something happens to get ready."

Actually with China's rising defence budget comes its involvement in such international affairs as fighting off the Somali pirates and sending more blue-helmet soldiers to the world's most turbulent areas, including earthquake-stricken Haiti in January, 2010.

In addition, according to NPC spokesman Li, China's military is basically "defensive." China never seeks to deploy standing forces to other countries, he added.

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