China will increase defense spending progressively and commensurate with the growing economy, President Hu Jintao said yesterday.
"We will gradually increase input in national defense as the economy grows, and continue to modernize national defense and the armed forces in a way that serves the interests of our national security and development," said Hu, also chairman of the Central Military Commission.
He was speaking at a grand rally marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In March, the Chinese legislature approved the national defense budget for the 2007 fiscal year, which reached US$44.94 billion, an annual increase of 17.8 percent.
The modernization of national defense and armed forces "is the historical mission of the PLA and the common cause of the Chinese people of all ethnic groups", said the president.
"Economic growth is the basis for enhancing defense capability, which is, in turn, an important indicator of overall national strength," Hu told an audience of hundreds of soldiers of all ranks, military retirees and civilian leaders.
The president also called for more efforts to accelerate the upgrading of defense-related science, technology and weaponry; and to boost the capacity for independent innovation.
He urged committees of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and governments at all levels to support the strengthening of military capability.
The president stressed that while adhering to the defensive nature of the country's military, China must build a "slim but strong" armed forces by striking a sound balance between speed, quality and efficiency in the modernization drive of the country's 2.3 million troops.
"The world is experiencing profound transformation, and China should be alert to potential risks," he said. "The international situation is generally stable, but the world is not all peaceful."
The president also spoke highly of the historic contributions the PLA has made to the country and the people since its founding.
In the past 80 years, the PLA has, under the CPC's leadership, fought courageously in fulfilling its mission and made indelible historic contributions to China's liberation cause, socialist construction and reform drives as well as in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, Hu said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 2, 2007)