Fearing containment, China raises defence spending
BEIJING, Jan 20: China fears containment abroad and separatist groups at home, a defence policy paper said, justifying a drive to increase military spending and push the People’s Liberation Army into the high-tech era.
China’s security has been improving as its economy grows and the PLA embraces modernisation, the defence “white paper” said, but pro-independence forces in Taiwan, Tibet and the energy-rich western region of Xinjiang still “pose threats to China’s unity and security”.
“On this issue, there can be no compromise and no concessions,” Defence Minstry chief spokesman Hu Changming said at a news conference to launch the document.
China has pointed to its recent deployment of navy ships to police pirate-troubled seas off Africa as a sign of benign military intentions. Analysts say the mission shows a rising but cautious power’s desire to project its growing global influence without alarming neighbours.
But China’s inceased spending o arms has been criticised as opaque by other countries, including the United States and Japan.
Beijing says its defence budget is purely for defensive purposes and is quite open, and it notes its budget is much smaller than Pentagon’s. Experts estimate China’s true defence spending could be as much as triple the stated figure.
“China is faced with superiority of developed countries economically, scientifically and technologically, as well as militarily,” the 95-page white paper said.
“It also faces strategic manoeuvres and containment from the outside wile having to face disruption and sabotage by separatist and hostile forces from the inside.”
China has long feared being surounded by hostile forces on its extensive borders, whether by Russia in the north and west, India to the southwest or allies of the USA in the east, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
The US Defence Department budget for fiscal 2009 is $515 billion, a 7.5 percent rise on the previous year. That number does not include separate multi-billion dollar outlays for Iraq and Afghanistan and some spending on nuclear weapons.
China’s defence budget for 2009 has not been released. In 2008, the government said it would spend 418 billion yuan ($61 billion) on defence, up 17.6 percent on 2007.
A PLA officer said more development was needed. – Reuters