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China's military spending 'reasonable and balanced'
Last Updated: 2014-03-06 10:10 | By CE.cn/Xinhua
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China plans to raise its defense budget by 12.2 percent to 808.2 billion yuan (about 132 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014, according to a draft budget report submitted to the national legislature for review on Wednesday.

In 2013, the country spent 720.197 billion yuan on national defense, a 10.7-percent increase from the previous year.

Double-digit growth in China's defense budget in recent years has caused concerns from some western countries. But experts said China's military expenditure is moderate and in line with the country's economic and security conditions.

Chen Zhou, a researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences and a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), said China's current military spending is at a "reasonable and balanced" level.

"Compared with major powers in the world, China's spending in national defense is considerably low either in terms of its share in the GDP or in per capita terms," he said.

"In order to protect the country and safeguard regional peace and stability, China has to enhance its national defense," he said.

Chen acknowledged that China is under increasing strategic pressure, as the Asia-Pacific region has become a global geo-political and economic center, with some major powers "speeding up strategic adjustments and strengthening military alliance."

Highlighting rising maritime security risks, territorial and maritime disputes, as well as terrorist threats, Chen said "the comparatively low level of input into national defense, coupled with a high-risk security environment, dictates that we must raise our defense budget on a moderate scale."

Chen's words were echoed by Yin Zhuo, director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, who said China's military spending is still far from the level it needs to be as the country faces increasingly severe security challenges.

Although the rise in the defense budget in the past three years has surpassed GDP growth, the share of military spending in China's GDP stood at less than 1.5 percent last year, well below the world average of 3 percent, Yin said, citing statistics.

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

Chen attributed the defense budget increase partly to the increasing international responsibilities China is facing.

China is the largest personnel contributor to UN peace-keeping missions among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It also regularly sends naval task forces to conduct escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

"Overseas missions cost several times more than those within the country," Chen said. "By moderately raising its defense budget and enhancing its military capabilities, China is also capable of making more contributions to world peace."

PLA not "Boy Scouts"

China on Wednesday blasted Japan's criticism of its increasing military spending, saying the moderate growth in China's defense budget is reasonable and in line with the country's economic conditions.

"The Chinese People's Liberation Army are not Boy Scouts with spears. Some foreigners always expect China to be a baby Scout. In that way, how can we safeguard national security and world peace? How can we ensure stability in the country, region and the world?" said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

"Even as a Scout grows up, his former dress and shoes will not fit anymore and thus he will have to change into bigger ones," the spokesman told a routine press briefing.

The Chinese government on Wednesday revealed plans to raise its defense budget by 12.2 percent to 808.2 billion yuan (about 132 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014.

Shortly after the announcement, Japan accused China of lacking transparency on defense expenditure.

Every year, during China's annual two sessions, the country's military expenditure has drawn special attention from overseas, Qin pointed out.

Reiterating China's adherence to a path of peaceful development, a military that is defensive in nature, and a transparent defense budget, he said it is reasonable for a country of China's size to moderately increase its military spending in the face of a complicated international situation.

It is nothing to be surprised about, the spokesman added.

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