China started an official website to make some of its military procurement public, revamping a system that officials say encouraged opacity and corruption.
The website, which went online yesterday, contains a list of more than 350 items from satellite surveillance equipment to domestic-made information systems that will be procured by the military. The site is manged by the General Armament Department of the People’s Liberation Army.
“It’s a fresh start to make the military procurement transparent,” Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel, said in an interview. “The lack of efficiency in military spending worries the top leaders as a major source of corruption.”
Under President Xi Jinping, China has stepped up defense spending as it seeks to extend the reach of its military to more aggressively assert territorial claims in the East and South China seas. China’s defense budget rose 12.2 percent last year to $132 billion. Making military procurement more transparent also plays into Xi’s fight against corruption among public officials and military leaders that he has identified as a threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power.
The overhaul of military procurement procedures aims to get qualified, private businesses involved in weapons research and production in a bid to improve competitiveness and efficiency, the official People’s Daily reported, citing Feng Danyu, director of the planning department of the PLA’s General Armament Department.
Inquiries about major weapons systems that involve “confidential information,” won’t be permitted, an announcement on the website said. Private business owners, military industry groups and individuals can all register on the website. It didn’t specify if foreign firms were allowed to bid.
“It would be a legitimate, open and transparent competition for all the parties,” Xia Qingyue, deputy director of the planning department of the PLA’s General Armament Department, told the People’s Daily. “Either military industry groups or the private sector could participate in bidding on the deals as long as they meets certain eligibility requirements.”
The new system will ensure that military funds are being effectively applied to combat capability, said Zhao Keshi, head of the PLA general logistics department, according to official Xinhua News Agency.