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    » 03/04/2010, 00.00

    CHINA

    China’s defence spending rising "only" 7.5 per cent

    Wang Zhicheng

    Chinese military expenditures are second only to those of the United States, twice higher than India’s. Many experts believe that the actual defence budget is much higher. National People’s Congress spokesman criticises Obama for meeting the Dalai Lama and world leaders for using Taiwan to interfere in China’s internal affairs. He claims ‘solidarity and harmony” reign in Xinjiang.
    Beijing (AsiaNews) – China announced that its military budget would increase by 7.5 per cent in 2010, the lowest jump in the past ten years. It will spend 532.1 billion yuan (US$ 78 billion) over the year. Last year’s growth was 14.9 per cent and ranged between 10 and 14 per cent in previous years.

    In today’s press conference, Li Zhaoxing (pictured), spokesman for the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), said that China has always pursued a path of peaceful development. He noted that its “defence expenditure in recent years accounted for about 1.4 per cent of its GDP,” compared to 4 per cent for the United States, and more than 2 per cent for the United Kingdom, France and Russia.

    China’s military spending is second only to the United States, which aims to spend US$ 636.3 billion this year, and is more than double India’s budget of US$ 32.1 billion.

    Wen Bing, a researcher with the Military Science Academy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, said the slowdown in defence budget increase is due to the lingering global financial crisis and the world's improving security environment. However, many experts note that other governments in the region have either cut or held expenditure steady, raising concerns that a power imbalance was building.

    As to allay such fears, Li said that the country's limited military force was only designed to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

    In reality, many observers believe that China underestimates its military expenditures. For example, China budgeted 480.7 billion yuan for defence last year but actually spent 495 billion. In addition, it does not include certain items in its defence budget. The Pentagon estimates that Beijing actually spends at least twice as much as it claims.

    Whatever the case may be, “China will adhere to a path of peaceful development and defensive military policies,” Li insisted.

    In an obvious reference to Barack Obama, he criticised some countries during the press conference for interfering in China's internal affairs. He also said that Chinese people were angry with the meeting between certain foreign leaders and the Dalai Lama, and that using the Taiwan issue to interfere in China's internal affairs was unacceptable”.

    By contrast, the situation in China's remote Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was “stable”, he said, and that “solidarity, mutual assistance and harmony are being consolidated and developed".

    In July of last year, a peaceful demonstration by indigenous Uyghurs turned into unrest against Han Chinese, who reacted by going on a violent rampage. During the civil strife that ensued, 197 were killed, thousands were arrested and tens of people were sentenced to death.

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    See also

    13/01/2005 CHINA
    United Kingdom and Portugal back lifting China arms embargo
    UK Foreign Minister says end to embargo is near. But both London and Lisbon demand progress in human rights. China sees embargo as litmus test on its Tibet and Taiwan policy.

    22/12/2010 INDIA – RUSSIA
    Russia and India agree to US$ 35 billion contract for 300 fighter jets
    Moscow and New Delhi plan to develop and build fifth generation fighter planes. Russian President Medvedev is in India to renew old ties. He backs India’s aspiration for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. The two partners plan to double trade over the next five years.

    22/04/2010 IRAN – UNITED STATES – CHINA
    Beijing trying to “water down” sanctions against Tehran
    China has proposed amendments to US-drafted sanctions. The mainland is Iran’s biggest trading partner, and depends on its energy supplies. The United States does not exclude the military option. Turkey offers to mediate.

    03/01/2007 CHINA
    China not competing with the United States in arms and energy
    Beijing says it seeks cooperation with Washington claiming shared interests and problems, but it expects a gradual end of US support to Taiwan.

    04/03/2009 CHINA
    China's military spending continues to rise
    An increase of 14.9%, to 48 billion euros, has been announced for 2009. Beijing says that its military power has exclusively defensive purposes. But experts say that actual spending is much higher, and that China is developing space weapons and computer espionage.



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