China's defence spending 'not a lot'
By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-20 05:30
Economic development and improvement of people's lives are the top priority
for China and the nation does not spend a lot on national defence, Minister of
Defence Cao Gangchuan said yesterday in Beijing.
The total defence expenditure for this year, calculated
under the new exchange rate, is US$30.2 billion, said Cao. "That is, indeed, the
true budget," Cao said at a joint press conference with visiting US Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Chinese President Hu Jintao told Rumsfeld that improving Sino-US military
ties would benefit the broader relationship between the two nations, and
intensive and candid talks would help the military forces of the two big
countries, and help the overall bilateral political relationship.
Rumsfeld became the first American defense secretary to visit the
headquarters of China's strategic missile fleet in northern Beijing. The visit
to the previously off-limits missile headquarters was viewed by Pentagon
officials as an important opening, and as an indication of a willingness by
Chinese military to engage with the Pentagon.
Hu Jintao (R) shakes hands with visiting US Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 19,
Cao was responding to a journalist who asked if China has under-reported its
The nation's primary task is economic development because nearly 30 million
Chinese still live in poverty, Cao said.
He said that some expenditure, such as that on the manned Shenzhou VI space
mission, had not been included in the defence budget this year.
The Pentagon, whose budget is several times bigger, has expressed concern
about China's military development. It last summer inflated the figure for
China's military spending this year to US$90 billion.
Rumsfeld, who arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a
three-day visit, yesterday met President Hu Jintao, also chairman of the Central
Military Commission (CMC); Cao and Guo Boxiong, both CMC vice-chairmen; and Jing Zhiyuan,
commander of the Second Artillery Force.