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Military spending to swell reasonably
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-08 12:59

China plans to increase defence spending by 11.6 per cent this year, a move analysts say is in tune with changes in the international security situation, new trends in military modernization and the need to support the country's peaceful development.

The defence spending growth is beneath any fuss both in its absolute value or its proportion of the country's total gross domestic product (GDP) considering the security situation in the world and modern military development, said Luo Yuan, director of Second Office of the Department of Strategy Studies of Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Budgeted military spending of 21.83 billion yuan (US$2.6 billion), submitted to the national legislature on Saturday, accounts for about 1.7 per cent of China's GDP volume, lower than the world's average of 3 per cent.

China's military expenditure only makes up only 8 per cent of the country's total financial expenses, lower than the world's average of 15 per cent.

Per capita military expenditure of the United States is nearly US$300,000, and the figures in Britain and Japan are nearly US$200,000, compared with China's US$10,000.

Luo said regional conflicts and non-traditional security threats, including terrorism, have led to growing military spending in many countries as the threats they face and their understanding of those threats change.

At the same time, major countries in the world are changing their approach to the military by shifting from labour-intensive to capital-intensive military development, he added.

In his government work report to the national legislature on Friday, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to "energetically carry forward military reforms" and work hard to "modernize national defence and armed forces to a higher stage of development."

China will focus on developing new and high technology weaponry and equipment, foster a new type of highly competent military personnel and promote modernization of the armed forces using both information technology and mechanization, the premier said.

Finance Minister Jin Renqing said in a budget report on Saturday that the budget increase is aimed at improving the defensive combat readiness of the armed forces under high-tech conditions and to raise the salaries of army personnel and pensions for ex-servicemen.

However, Ding Jiye, head of finances for the PLA General Logistics Department, said the current defence expenditure hardly meets the needs to further military reform and build a technically advanced army.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, he said the army made progress in reforms of its budget, procurement and social security systems, and the principle of building an army through hard work and frugality should be further adhered to.

Defence analysts said that this year's double-digit increase of defence expenditures, along with an ongoing disarmament endeavour aimed at trimming the 2.5-million-man People's Liberation Army by 200,000 by the year 2005, is in line with the country's principle of keeping "fewer but better" troops.

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