Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said Tuesday that the proposed increase in China's defense spendings this year has no link with the National Missile Defense program of the United States.
Tang made the remarks in response to a question by a reporter from the German news agency, DPA, at a news conference held by the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC).
Earlier, Chinese Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng proposed a 17.7 percent rise in the defense expenditures in his report on the Central and Local Budgets for 2000 and on the Draft Central and Local Budgets for 2001 at the Fourth Session of the National People's Congress (NPC).
China has for long adhered to the principle of limited defense spendings on the modernization of national defense, the foreign minister said.
He attributed this year's budgetary increase in this area to two factors. First, he said, China has achieved economic development and the improvement of the people's living standards, especially, the rise of the per-capita income level and that calls for a "rising income for our servicemen".
Secondly, "There is the need to modernize national defense and the reform of the military structure," he noted.
Superficially, the increase seems quite big, but "as I know, China's defense expenditure is the smallest among major powers in the world," the foreign minister pointed out.
He said China's defense budget is only five percent that of United States which is US$305.4 billion, and 30 percent that of Japan, the neighbor of China.