China plans no big military expansion
A Chinese general said Thursday that China has no intention of large-scale military expansion, even though its military spending has grown moderately in recent years.
"Along with its economic growth, China has increased national defense spending in recent years. The increased part is mainly used to improve living conditions of military officers and soldiers," said Ding Jiye, a major general and head of the finance office of the General Logistics Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently said he could not understand why China increased its military expenditure with no threats from other countries.
Ding said that China had no intention nor capability to carry out large-scale military expansion.
China set a 244.7 billion yuan (approximately US$29.48 billion) budget for national defense in 2005, up 12.6 percent over last year. The increased spending in recent years, made possible by rapid economic growth, have mainly ended up in three areas, said Ding.
The bulk of the increased funding, said Ding, has gone to improve lives of officers and soldiers. As civilians benefit from China's economic growth, living conditions of military personnel should also be improved, he said.
"A large part of the increased spending have gone to raising board wages, improving clothing materials and raising subsidies in similar fields. It is necessary if only the price rise factor is taken into account," said Ding.
Second, fund has gone to meet the cost of organizational reform,which has included cutting the number of military personnel and employing civil servants for certain posts. This year, China is expected to complete the task of cutting military personnel by 200,000 during the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005), a decision made by the CPC Central Committee and the state Central Military Commission.
"Extra expenses are needed to cover the arrangements for retired personnel and newly employed personnel," Ding said.
He said that moderate increases on weapons spending have gone towards keeping up with accelerated military reform in the world. China needs to increase spending on military research, purchase of equipment and training high-caliber military personnel. All of this is to modernize the military, enhancing mechanization and creating a better information infrastructure.
Ding said despite the growth of military spending in recent years, China's national defense expenditure remained far behind other major countries in the world in many areas, including aggregate amount, ratio in GDP and per capita military spending.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao Tuesday said at a press conference that last year, the US military spending was 455.9 billion US dollars, 17.8 times that of China. In terms of per capita military spending, the US figure is 77 times that of China.
"Any words or deeds that create and exaggerate China's military threat will
do harm to regional peace and stability," Liu said.