Tuesday, 28 March, 2017

China defence spending to rise 'around 7pc'

Here’s What to Expect at China's NPC Here’s What to Expect at China's NPC
Preston Stone | 05 March, 2017, 00:25

This means defense spending would account for some 1.3 percent of GDP, the same level as the past few years, Fu said.

By lowering the rate of growth, however, President Xi Jinping is keeping military spending roughly in step with the overall economy and avoiding a costly arms race with the USA following President Donald Trump's proposal last month to do away with previous spending limits and increase the Pentagon budget by about 2% from current levels.

Gen. Wang Hongguang, a retired deputy commander of the former Nanjing Military Command, called for a 12 percent increase of the Chinese defense budget in view of United States defense spending plans.

"Look at the past decade or so, there have been so many conflicts, even wars, around the world resulting in serious, large numbers of casualties and loss of property, so many refugees destitute and homeless", she said.

"As to the future development [of the settlement of these disputes], I think we also need to take into account the intentions on the USA side", she said, calling the United States' actions in the South China Sea a "weather vane" for the region.

Fu Ying, spokesperson for the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) annual session, rubbed it in at a press conference as she pointed out that China will spend just 1.3 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on defence compared to a decision by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries to invest 2 percent of GDP for the objective.

Though analysts argue that the real figure could be much higher, the actual number will be released when China's largely rubber stamp parliament begins its session on Sunday.

"It's not enough", a source with ties to senior Chinese officers told Reuters.

But Fu dismissed such concerns.

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The CPPCC official said China's Belt and Road Initiative is advancing steadily and bringing investments and jobs to participating countries.

A larger increase of China's defence budget was also expected as President Xi Jinping has announced plans to upgrade weapons and transform the People's Liberation Army into a smaller but more nimble fighting force. At the same time we need the ability to safeguard our sovereignty and interests and...

"The future trend will depend on USA intentions in the region".

Fu did not specify what "meddling" she was referring to, but Beijing's increasingly assertive stance towards its claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea have stirred alarm in the region and prompted criticism from Washington.

China is also dealing with increased tensions in the Korean Peninsula, where the US and South Korea are preparing to deploy a missile-defence system that China has long criticized.

"There was a view that China would increase its defence budget in line with the rise of the defence budget in the United States", he said.

China's Defense Ministry has said it is monitoring the ongoing Vinson-led operations - the first in the waterway under the Trump administration.

Trump has proposed increasing America's defense and security spending by $54 billion while putting the budgets of other lower-priority government agencies on the chopping block. "There is a huge gap between China and the United States in capability".

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