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Defense Budget Increase Aims at Army Stability
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The increase in China's defense budget for 2006 is necessary for maintaining the stability of servicemen, said a senior PLA logistic officer with the army.

"Higher income and better welfare will help attract more talented people to the army, stabilize the flow of military personnel, and encourage them to work harder for army building," said Liao Xilong, director of the General Logistics Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Liao, also a member of the Central Military Commission, underscored the necessity of more military spending to raise the wages and welfare of soldiers.

The budgeted military spending this year accounts for 1.4 percent of China's gross domestic product, a low level compared with some other countries, such as the United States, Britain, Japan and France, he added.

China has been pursuing a balanced growth of military expenditures in recent years, keeping pace with its economic development. Investment in defense has been moderately increased based on a rapid and sound growth of national economy.

China plans to allocate over 280 billion yuan (about US$35 billion) for national defense this year, an increase of 14.7 percent over the amount for 2005, according to a budget presented by the Ministry of Finance for examination of the on-going annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.

The money will be used to raise soldiers' pay and strengthen the army's defensive and fighting capacity in an effort to safeguard the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, thereport claimed.

Jiang Enzhu, spokesman for the NPC session, noted earlier that the defense budget is raised this year also to cover the mounting costs of oil products for military use in line with the price hikeon international oil market.

He claimed that "China does not intend nor has the capacity to seek large-scale arms expansion."

(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2006)

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