Defense expenditure should be managed efficiently to ensure that every penny is used where it is needed most for the modernization of national defense, legislators from the army have said.
Defense expenditure has kept increasing in the past years, giving a strong support to the army's modernization drive, but the funds should be economized to in the building of troops, said Zheng Shouzeng, vice commander of the Lanzhou Military Area Command.
"Our army has been developed with arduous work and thrifty tradition which should never be discarded," said Zheng, also a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature.
"China is not yet affluent. Even if it grows to be rich someday, we shall still stick to the diligent and economical work style," he said, adding that military building should serve the country's overall economic and social development.
Wang Guosheng, another NPC deputy, pointed out that army building should follow a road seeking high returns with efficient input, as it will consume huge amounts of resources to transform a mechanized army into a modernized one based on information technology.
According to international estimates, such a transformation will cost US$20,000 per serviceman every year on the average, a level which China has not caught up with. In the United States, per capita military spending has exceeded US$200,000.
"It requires us to build frugal troops, which should be reflected in every detail about our food, housing, transport, daily expenses and even dress," said Li Guanglu, an NPC deputy from the border-guard forces in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Li's regiment started a campaign last year to economize on water, electricity, grain, oil, paper and money. The campaign also banned smoking, drinking, eating snacks, borrowing money and buying high-end daily commodities.
A report from the General Logistics Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) showed that the whole army saved 40 million tons of water, 170 million kwh of electricity, 7,500 tons of grain, 1.16 million tons of coal and 1.4 billion yuan of procurement expenses last year.
Tu Yaqing, an NPC deputy with the logistics engineering institute of the PLA, pointed out that the army used to be overburdened with all kinds of services for armymen's children and families, including their education, employment, housing and medical insurance.
Now, with the reform of logistics sector further deepened, the proportion of military spending used for subsidiary services has gradually been cut down and efficiency has improved steadily, Tu said.
(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2007)