China hikes military budget

March 4th, 2008 - 8:11 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, March 4 (DPA) China announced 17.6 percent increase in its annual military budget Tuesday, but denied the US charge that Chinese military build-up could fuel instability in Asia. The draft defence budget for 2008 is set at 417.769 billion yuan ($57.229 billion), up 62.379 billion yuan from 2007, a spokesman for China’s parliament told reporters.

The rise is in line with the government’s policy of “moderate increases” in defence spending over the years, said Jiang Enzhu, spokesman for the first annual session of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC).

The higher budget for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is needed for pay rises, extra costs of rations and fuel, training, and new arms to “enhance the military’s ability to conduct defence operations (in new conditions),” he said.

The 3,000-member NPC is scheduled to discuss and approve the national budget during its 13-day annual session, which begins Wednesday.

Many Western critics claim China’s real military spending is much higher than its budget figure, with some US analysts estimating actual military spending at up to three times the budget figure.

The budget announcement came one day after the Pentagon released an annual report saying that China’s military build-up could fuel instability in Asia and create confusion about Beijing’s intentions.

“The lack of transparency in China’s military and security affairs poses risks to stability by increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation,” the report said.

However, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China’s military modernization was “peaceful and defensive and the US report was a “serious distortion of facts.”

“It is a serious distortion of facts, an attempt to interfere in (China’s) internal affairs, and violates the norms of international relations,” he added.

The Pentagon report said China has been modernizing its nuclear force by fielding new DF-31 and DF-31A inter-continental ballistic missiles and is upgrading its capability to wage a war in the Taiwan Strait.

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