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Experts: China's Military Spending Transparent
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The Chinese government has shown sincerity and transparency in responding to international concern with its detailed explanation of defense expenditure, a military expert said in Beijing Friday.

In a defense white paper released Friday, the government detailed the composition of defense expenditure, the increase of the expenditure, and the reasons for the increase.

"We believe that the white paper will give the international community a relatively objective and comprehensive picture of the increase of China's national defense expenditure," said Zhang Bangdong, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense.

"The increase in national defense expenditure is reasonable, necessary and open and there are no secrets or attempts at concealment," Zhang said.

"It has shown the government's utmost sincerity in detailing the expenditure of China's national defense, an issue of high concern among the international community, with high transparency, " Zhang Jing'en, a military expert said.

Defense expenditure in 2004 was 220 billion yuan, an annual growth of 15.31 percent, rising 12.5 percent to 247.49 billion yuan in 2005, and the budget for 2006 was 283.83 billion yuan (US$35.5 billion).

"China saw a rise in defense expenditure after it moved from low-input for self-preservation to serving the country's overall economic development," Zhang said.

"However, China's annual defense expenditure as a proportion of GDP and of the state financial expenditure has decreased and both the total amount and per-serviceman share of defense expenditure is low compared with developed countries," Zhang said.

According to the white paper on China's National Defense issued Friday, in 2005, defense expenditure equaled 6.19 percent of that of the United States, 52.95 percent of the United Kingdom's, 71.45 percent of France's and 67.52 percent of Japan's. China's spending per serviceman averaged 107,607 yuan, amounting to 3.74 percent of that of the United States and 7.07 percent of that of Japan.

Spending mainly comprises expenses for personnel, training and maintenance, and equipment, the paper says.

The increase in spending was primarily for purposes such as raising salaries and allowances of military personnel and improving living conditions, increasing investment in weapons and equipment and infrastructure, training, compensation for price rises, and increasing expenses for international cooperation in non-traditional security fields, it adds.

"It's meaningless to say just that defense expenditure has increased," Zhang said. "The important aspect is what the increase is used for, military expansion or national defense."

Improving the living conditions of military personnel was the major use of the increased expenditure, military expert Wang Erliang said.

"The facts prove that China's increased defense expenditure is mainly for defense and army development," military expert Yao Yunzhu said.

China strongly opposes hegemony and military expansion, and would pose no threat to other countries, Yao said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2006)

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