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China's defense budget modest: US scholar
Updated: 2006-02-10 17:14

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. scholar said Thursday that China's military spending is rather modest and that a Pentagon report that faults Chinese defense spending is aimed at justifying its own inflating expenditures.

Ted Galen Carpenter. [www.cato.org]
"I do not see how China's military spending is terribly threatening the vast military capabilities of the United States," Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, said in an interview with Xinhua.

Carpenter, who is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, made the remarks when asked about the Quadrennial Defense Review Report (QDR) released by the Pentagon last Friday.

He said China's defense budget, with an official figure of some 30 billion dollars, is only a small amount in comparison to U.S. military spending which is going to be about 440 billion dollars next year, excluding the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"China's military spending is rather modest. It is not alarming," Carpenter said.

As for his view on the statement in the QDR's China section that "the pace and scope of China's military build-up already puts regional military balances at risk," Carpenter said: "I think that is where the Chinese government can take issue with the QDR... We do not see a massive military build-up that will raise questions about Beijing's motives."

Carpenter believed the main purpose of the QDR was to justify the Pentagon's inflating military spending and "the section on China is just a means to that end."

If the Pentagon said the global situation did not look very threatening, the United States had no obvious enemies other than terrorists or low-tech threats, Congress would significantly reduce the defense budget, Carpenter said.

"So the Pentagon currently has every incentive to portray the global threat environment in the most alarming terms," he said.

However, Carpenter said the Pentagon report would not dominate U.S. foreign policy toward China because the Bush administration regards the relationship with China as "a critically important one."

Neither the White House nor officials at the State Department talk much about the so-called "China threat" because "that creates animosity in the relationship between Beijing and Washington and that is not something the White House or the State Department wants," Carpenter said.

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