China's expenditures for national defense will rise by 21.83 billion yuan (about US$2.6 billion) this year, 11.6 percent more than last year, Finance Minister Jin Renqing said in a budget report Saturday.
The increase is aimed to improve the defensive combat readiness of the armed forces under hi-tech conditions and to raise the salaries of army personnel and the pensions for ex-servicemen, the minister said at the annual session of the national legislature.
China's budgetary military spending for 2003 was 185.3 billion yuan (about US$22.3 billion). The actual defense spending of the year was not available.
Defense analysts here say that this year's double-digit increase of defense expenditures, along with an on-going disarmament endeavor aimed at trimming the 2.5-million-man People's Liberation Army by 200,000 by the year 2005, is in line with the country’s army building principle of keeping "fewer but better" troops.
(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2004)