PLA explains China's military budget increase

China Military
Zhang Tao

BEIJING, March 6 (ChinaMil) -- The 7% military budget increase in 2017 will be used to support the national defense and military reform, update equipment, improve the training and living environment of grassroot-level troops and so on, said Maj. Gen. Chen Zhou, military deputy to China's National People's Congress (NPC) and researcher with the Military Strategy Department of the PLA Academy of Military Science, at the press conference of China's State Council Information Office on March 4, 2017.

Every year, during the sessions of the NPC and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), also known as the "two sessions" , the annual military budget increase announced by the NPC spokesperson at the first press conference always draws a lot of attention, and it gives the international media an excuse to hype up the lack of transparency in China's military budget.

How the incremental military budget will be used?

According to Chen, the increase in the military budget this year will mainly be used to support the national defense and military reform. This is an important part.

It will also be used to update China's military equipment, improve the training, working and living conditions for grassroot-level troops, and cultivate high-caliber military talents.

Last but not least, it will be used to support the in-depth development of military-civilian integration.

China is faced with a severe environment, thus, military budget should increase more quickly?

Chen Zhou said that China increases its military budget based on objective and rational judgment. China won't change the scope of increase simply because of sudden changes in external factors unless there is a large-scale war.

For a very long time to come, China doesn't face the threat of a large-scale war. Instead, China will be faced with local warfare and armed conflicts caused by external factors, so China's military strategy will be focused on winning information-based warfare with a special emphasis on the readiness to engage in military combat in the sea.

According to Chen, military budget increase consists of two parts: the need of national defense and the suitability with national economic development level.

The need of national defense includes the evaluation of security environment. China's geostrategic environment faces complicated and variable risks and challenges, and China needs to take that into account when increasing the military budget.

On the other hand, the current increase in China's military budget is coordinated with the growth of GDP and fiscal deficit and revenue.

Whether the military budget will be inclined to naval development?

Chen Zhou expressed that the Chinese armed forces is an army-based, defensive and labor-intensive military, and China's geopolitical environment requires it to maintain a strong army. This will remain unchanged.

However, Chen continued, with the deepening of reform and the changes in China's security environment and the form of warfare, China needs to intensify the construction of other services too, including the Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force. China will also downsize the Army and phase out troops whose equipment is too outdated. Thus, military expenditure will be more inclined to those military services.

As to the rapid development of the PLA Navy in recent years, Chen said that China has set the strategic goal of building a maritime power, which is why the PLA Navy has developed so rapidly recently.

Aircraft carrier, symbol of naval development, caught special attention.

Chen Zhou said "aircraft carrier is a benchmark in China's naval development. As you see, the Liaoning ship has performed superbly both in testing and training. The second aircraft carrier is also in smooth progress and equipment is being installed on it."

As to how many carrier battle groups China will need, that will be decided according to national strategy and military strategy, but China won't stop at Liaoning or the second carrier. China will continue to build carrier groups, added Chen Zhou.

"One thing we can be sure of. China will never build 12 carrier battle groups like the U.S. does. That's unnecessary for China. China's defense policy is defensive in nature and its military strategy is proactively defensive, which will remain unchanged no matter how the international situation changes and to what extent China has developed. China will adhere to the peaceful development path and uphold the defensive national defense policy. China's naval development and military development will be limited and appropriate," Chen Zhou emphasized.

Chen also introduced the main contents of the national defense and military reform in 2017, including the reform of military scale, structure, composition of forces and policy, as well as reform in military-civilian integration.

Reform in military scale, structure and the composition of forces includes adjusting the proportion of different services and reducing the scale.

Reform in military policy includes establishing the system of civil personnel, the military-title-oriented hierarchy of officers, and professional development of military officers.

Moreover, military academies, research institutes and training organizations are all being adjusted.

According to Chen Zhou, any reform would encounter difficulties, but China has the confidence and capability to accomplish the reform and present its military to the world in a new outlook. 2017 marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA, and the Chinese military is determined to take on a new outlook in the world.

As to the international standard for the transparency of China's military budget, Chen Zhou said that China has joined the UN Military Budget Transparency Mechanism.

In accordance with UN's request, China will submit major military expenditures in the previous fiscal year, covering living allowance, training fee, and equipment fee, the last item including R&D and procurement, He added.


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