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China naval expert defends military budget
Last Updated: 2014-03-01 18:20 | Xinhua
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Double-digit growth in China's defense budget in recent years is moderate and in line with the country's economic conditions, a military expert said ahead of the two sessions during which military spending would be a focus.

In an interview with Xinhua on Saturday, Yin Zhuo, director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the PLA Navy, said China's military spending is still far from the level it needs to be as the country faces increasingly severe security challenges.

The Chinese government is to unveil its defense budget for 2014 during the annual session of the National People's Congress, set to begin on March 5.

Last year, China raised its central government defense budget by 10.7 percent to 720.2 billion yuan (117.7 billion U.S. dollars). It spent 650.6 billion yuan on national defense in 2012, an increase of 11.5 percent than the previous year.

Although the rise in the defense budget in the past three years has surpassed GDP growth, the spending's share in GDP, which came in at 1.4 percent, is still far below the world average of 3 percent, Yin said citing statistics.

The expert added that China's peaceful development required the backing from both the economy and the military.

His comments came as China's growing military spending has come under various interpretations, with some countries exaggerating the expenditure and doubting China's peaceful intentions.

Yin saw the hype as an attempt to sensationalize "China threats" to garner public support for the high military spending in those countries.

In response to some reports claiming China's military spending would surpass that of the U.S. in the 2030s, Yin said China "has no intention to seek hegemony" and will stick on a peaceful development path.

He reiterated that China will continue to keep its military policies open and transparent.

A report released by London's International Institute for Strategic Studies showed the U.S. remained the world's biggest defense spender in 2013, with a budget of 600.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2013.

CYBER SECURITY

During the interview, Yin also responded to questions regarding U.S. accusations of China launching cyber attacks against the country.

Last February, U.S. cyber security firm Mandiant released a report that alleged a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai was behind years of cyber attacks against U.S. companies.

The report was followed by a wave of Western media criticism of hacking by China.

"That is not true. China has no cyber army, and most of its cyber space remains unguarded," Yin pointed out, saying a substantial number of cyber attacks targeting Chinese military originated from the U.S..

He also stressed the need for China to draw up a strategy on cyber space to guard national security.

China announced on Thursday the creation of a special group, headed by President Xi Jinping, to lead and coordinate Internet security and informatization work among different sectors, as well as draft national strategies, development plans and major policies in this field.

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