03/04/2017, 13.00
CHINA
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Beijing increases military spending by 7%. But some want to overtake Trump

by Wang Zhicheng

Armed Forces budget below 10% for two consecutive years. China must defend itself from "external interference" in territorial disputes. Retired General: We should overtake the US and increase military spending by 12%. The escalation between all the countries of the region.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - This year, China will increase military spending by  "around 7%", to contain the "external interference" in its territorial disputes. This was stated by the spokesman Fu Ying, at a press conference ahead of the National People's Congress, which opens tomorrow.

 

The spokesman also pointed out that the future of China's military spending will depend on what the US will do in the region.

 

The reference is to the tensions in the South China Sea, and the islands that China claims as its own. This is why it is implementing the militarization of some of them, to the point of planning the installation of launch pads for surface to air missiles.

Beijing says it wants to defend its sovereignty and safeguard the freedom of navigation in the area. But the militarization raises concerns and criticism from other countries in the region, which also claim their sovereignty over some of the islands. Among them are Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan. These see US military strength as a guarantee against the abuses of China.

 

Days ago US President Donald Trump proposed an increase of 10% in military spending in his country and the tension is leading to a military escalation in all countries of the region.

 

Fu said that China calls for "a peaceful solution through dialogue and consultation [of the territorial disputes]. At the same time we need to safeguard our sovereignty, our interests and our rights. " In particular, he added, "we need to be vigilant against external powers meddling in disputes."

 

The increase in military spending this year is in line with the past. Until two years ago the increase was 10-12%. But there is pressure for China to increase the funds for the army.

On the sidelines of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which takes place almost simultaneously with the NPC, a retired general, Wang Hongguang, said that "since the military budget of the USA increased by 10%, we also need to increase in double figures. The ideal would be a 12% increase".

 

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