Saturday, July 31, 2010

China Defended its USD 77 billion Defence Expenditure

The world's second biggest military spender, China, today defended its USD 77 billion defence expenditure, insisting it was strictly aimed at protecting its sovereignty, and pegged at nearly 1.4 per cent of the GDP, it was far below than other countries.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said that the country's defence expenditure was maintained at a reasonable and appropriate level. Geng who took over the post today, was quoted as saying by Xinhua, that China's annual defence expenditure has been pegged around 1.4 per cent of its GDP in recent years while the share of some major world powers is between two and four per cent.

"We have always coordinated the national defence building with the country's economic development," Geng said, adding that China pursed a purely defensive national defence policy. China will not enter into an arms race or militarily threaten any other country nor will seek hegemony and engage in military expansion, he said. "The fundamental task of the Chinese military is to protect the nation's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity," he said.

He said China's current security environment is generally stable, but some threats do exist. China this year increased its defence budget by 7.5 per cent to 532.115 billion yuan (USD 77 billion). Last year China hiked the defence 14.9 per cent. Despite the modest increase this year, China would still continue to be second largest spender on defence, next only to United States. It spends twice as high as India on the defence head. India increased its defence spending by 3.98 per cent this year to USD 32 billion.

A number of foreign media reports in the recent months have said that the official announcement about reducing the increase of defence spending does not reflect the actual expenditure which could range from of USD 140 to 150 billion. Decades of rapid growth has made Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) the largest standing army in the world with more than 2.3 million men. Its Navy has about 255,000 men and its air force about four lakh men and officers.-PTI

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