China allays fears over its bigger military budget

BEIJING (MindaNews/07 March) – Reacting to concerns over the increase in China’s military budget this year, Beijing on Tuesday said that there is nothing to fear, saying that the hike in its defense allocation simply reflects its economic development.

“Considering the coordinating relations between national defense and economic development, the moderate growth of 11.2 percent in defense budget this year is a clear declaration that China will not deviate from its top priority of economic development, or casually change its military policies because of disturbances out of China. Nor will it join in any form of arms race, the state-run People’s Daily said.

The Communist Party is currently holding its 11th National People’s Congress, where it announced the military budget has been increased by 11.2 percent or 670 billion yuan (US$106.4 billion).

The announcement triggered a ripple of commentaries and apprehensions in the West and Asian countries, particularly those that are locked in a territorial dispute with China, particularly in the Spratly Islands.

On Monday, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said that the move is within China’s “sovereign right,” but advised Beijing to be responsible enough to use its military might for peace and stability.

“With an expanded economy and military, we are relying on China, however, to fully utilize their vast global influence in the most responsible way in terms of promoting peace, prosperity and stability in our region,” he said.

Japan as well as Taiwan, which China recognized as a renegade province, voiced their concerns over the steady increases in China’s military budget, media reports showed.

But China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday doused the fears, saying Beijing will resolve regional and international issues peacefully.

“The priorities of China’s diplomacy this year are to uphold peace and tackle thorny regional and international issues through dialogues, consultation and negotiation responsibly,” he said.

Beijing reiterated that the military increase is a “reflection of the government’s adherence to its central task – economic development.

It blamed western analysts for overblowing its military budget, adding that “these are typical misunderstandings of China’s development mode and aims,” the People’s Daily’s military section said.

Many have earlier raised doubts over the true figures of China’s military budget, saying China may have been spending on defense more than it actually showed the public.

Beijing described the defense budget as “moderate,” noting that it was based on the “steady rise of its comprehensive national power, the stable modernization of its national defense and military build-up, as well as it accumulation of experiences in dealing with the ever-changing global environment.” (Darwin Wally T. Wee/MindaNews)