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US claims of PLA expansion rejected
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-06-11 21:39

China has denied claims by the United States that it is planning a large-scale military expansion.

"As China's economy has grown, so has its spending on national defence. The increase is mainly for improving the living conditions of 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 Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is reported to have said he could not understand why China increased its military expenditure with no threat from other countries.

Ding said China had neither the intention nor the capability to carry out large-scale expansion.

China set a 244.7 billion yuan (US$29.48 billion) budget for national defence in 2005, up 12.6 per cent over last year. The increase in recent years, made possible by rapid economic growth, has mainly been used in three areas, said Ding.

As civilians benefit from China's economic growth, the living conditions of military personnel should also be improved, he said.

"Much of the increase has gone on raising wages, improving clothing materials and raising subsidies in similar fields. It is necessary even if only inflation is taken into account," said Ding.

The money has also gone towards meeting the cost of reforming the organization, which has included cutting the number of military personnel and employing civil servants for certain posts. This year, China aims to cut personnel by 200,000 under the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05), in 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 new employees," Ding said.

He said moderate increases on weapons spending have gone towards keeping up with accelerated military reform around the world. China needs to increase its spending on military research, buying equipment and training high-calibre personnel if it is to modernize and create a better information infrastructure.

Ding said that despite the growth of spending in recent years, China's national defence spending was still far behind other major countries in many areas, including aggregate amount, ratio to GDP and amount per capita.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that last year, US military spending was US$455.9 billion, 17.8 times as much as China's. In terms of per capita spending, the US figure was 77 times that of China.

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