China conducted a comprehensive analysis of its security
environment for the first time in a key policy document on Friday,
saying the country still faces challenges, such as the struggle to
oppose and contain separatist forces for "Taiwan independence."
The White Paper on national defence, the fifth of its kind
issued by the Chinese Government since 1998, also illustrated
Beijing's nuclear strategy for the first time and offered a fresh
picture of the defence build-up of its coast and borders.
Zhang Bangdong, chief of the foreign affairs office with the
Ministry of Defence, said the most interesting part of the
10-chapter document is that China's national military policy is
purely defensive in nature.
Focusing on peace and development, the document offers a
comprehensive picture of China's national defence ranging from its
security environment, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the
people's armed police force, defence expenditure and
According to the paper, the PLA currently has 2.3 million troops
after three major cuts since the 1980s.
From 1990 to 2005, China's defence expenditure increased by
15.36 per cent every year on average, reaching US$30.65 billion
last year. However, considering the consumer price index increase,
actual defence spending grew only 9.64 per cent, the paper
The defence budgets of the world's three biggest military
spenders the United States, Great Britain and Japan were US$495.33
billion, US$57.88 billion and US$45.4 billion respectively in
"The total amount of defence spending and per person share is
relatively low compared to that of many other countries," Zhang
China's per person share of defence spending was US$13,320 last
year, much lower than that of the United States, Great Britain and
Japan, which were US$356,610, US$288,030, and US$188,470
"The growth of defence expenditure on the basis of China's
national condition conforms to the rules of military build-up and
all the released figures are true and reliable," he said.
"The white paper shows the basic ideas of the national security
strategy for the first time in a government document," Zhang said,
"and its highly transparent intention demonstrates that China does
not have any plans for military expansion."
China's security strategy is to pursue peaceful development and
work with other nations to secure peace, prosperity and harmony in
the world, Zhang added.
Analyzing the overall situation in the Asia-Pacific, the paper
said "new changes have occurred in hotspots in the region,"
referring to the strengthening military alliance between Washington
and Tokyo and Pyongyang's nuclear test.
Addressing its nuclear capability, the paper said China's
nuclear arms were based on "a self-defensive nuclear strategy,"
adding that the country remains firmly committed to the policy of
no first use of nuclear weapons.
Such an assurance is not often given by other military powers,
said Zhang, stressing that it is a key aspect of China's military
In order to make the White Paper more understandable to the
international community, the military foreign affairs chief held a
news briefing with about 70 military attaches from 45 countries on
Zhang said every release of the national defence White Paper
from 1998 has improved China's military transparency.
However, Zhang said, China has its own way of defining
transparency that may differ from Western countries.
Milan Vana, military attach with the Czech Republic and acting
dean of the Beijing Military Attach Corp, said the newly released
white paper is more detailed than previous White Papers.
He said he would seriously study the paper, and believes the
document will help foreign countries better understand China's
national defence policy and its military build-up.
(China Daily December 31, 2006)