China Eases Foot Off Gas on Military Spending

Adjust Comment Print

Ahead of Sunday's annual National People's Congress, parliament announced China's smallest increase to its military spending in seven years and the second consecutive year below 10 percent.

Furthermore, in her opening remarks at the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress, which held yesterday, 4th of March 2017, the Vice Foreign Minister announced that the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) will officially commence tomorrow morning.

"Concerning the. territorial and maritime disputes in China's neighborhood, we have called for the peaceful settlement through dialogue and consultations", Fu Ying, a spokeswoman for the National People's Congress, said a day before the rubber-stamp parliament's annual session kicks off.

Ms Fu yesterday assuaged fears over China's military capability.

The increase announced on Saturday would push China's total defense budget past 1 trillion yuan ($145 billion, 136.5 billion euros) for the first time.

Although there are concerns about China's increasing military strength, especially in light of growing tension in the South China Sea region, Fu rightly said that the USA military was still vastly superior to that of China.

"But in the meantime, we must also have the capability to defend our sovereignty, our rights and interests", she said.

"Probably fundamentally the United States is concerned that China may catch up with the United States in terms of capability, but we are a developing country".

Seeking a more streamlined fighting force, China plans to complete the cutting of 300,000 military personnel by the end of the year, shifting the emphasis away from the land forces and toward the navy, air and rocket units.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump promised to increase United States military spending by 10 per cent, adding $54 billion to take the overall budget to $603 billion. She noted North Atlantic Treaty Organization members were being urged to spend 2% of GDP on defense-a higher level than China.

Addressing worldwide concerns over China's growing military strength, Fu said: "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".

"The more important factor for countries in South-east Asia would be the actual security policy and behaviour of China in regional security issues like the South China Sea", he said. The South China Sea, a waterway of strategic importance, has been at the center of tensions between multiple nations contesting waterway and offshore resources.

Future trends in the region "will depend on United States intentions vis-a-vis the region and United States activities [which] to a certain extent set the barometer for the situation here", Fu said.

With troop numbers declining, the 7% increase suggested "funding is still being channeled towards investment in new equipment and the wider process of modernizing" the Chinese military, said Craig Caffrey, an expert on defense budgets at IHS Jane's.

"I am optimistic about the trade future between China and the USA, though disputes and conflicts could hardly be avoided, so Beijing can take this chance to appease those who have such concerns".

"China's industry production is bigger compared to US, Germany and Japan combined and China is very efficient in eliminating poverty", Wang Yiwei said. "Which one has China caused?".