"To fulfill the task of safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, it is normal and necessary for an appropriate amount of military expenditure to be increased following a growth of the national economy." These are the words of Cai Renshan, a PLA deputy after hearing the report on China 2002 budget plan at the Great Hall of the People on March 6.
In his report, Minister of Finance Xiang Huaicheng announced a 17.6 per cent increase or RMB25.2 billion yuan (US$3.04 billion) in the central defense budget for 2002 at the ongoing Fifth Session of the 9th NPC.
"As shown by a cartoon on your newspaper, with only the knickers on him, a soldier is waiting for the dripping uniform to become dry for he has only one suit," Lieutenant-General Cai Renshan told a foreign reporter. "Although it is exaggerated, our soldiers and officers in deed live a hard life. How can we raise the living standard and salaries of our soldiers and officers without a raise".
Cai also pointed out that as a developing country China is still at a fairly low level in GNP and the newly added expenditure on national defense is far less than is actually needed. Compared with the US, its military spending adds up to US$379.3 billion to show US$48 billion more than the previous year in the way China' national defense budget for 2002 is even less than US's newly added sum".
Furthermore, deputy Cai hit out at some foreign media and politicians exaggerating the significance of China's increased defense spending in backing up their "China threat'' fallacy. These people have ulterior motives in using such an excuse for blocking China's development. Cai noted that China, as a peace-loving country seeking no world hegemony, has neither the need nor the ambition to invade other countries.
(People's Daily March 8, 2002)